CEMAFON, together with VDMA Metallurgy and the OPC Foundation, has recently launched the “OPC UA High Pressure Die Casting Initiative”, involving the manufacturers of pressure die casting machines and associated equipment in the development of OPC UA functionalities.
Mechanical and plant engineering must consider the fact that many customer scenarios of guiding vision Industry 4.0 are only possible through a manufacturer-independent interoperable exchange of information. This also applies to the manufacture of die-cast parts using pressure die casting machines and associated equipment (so-called diecasting cells). Although the pressure die casting machine (PDCM) already has standardized interfaces to peripheral equipment such as PDCM – extracting devices (VDMA 24491), PDCM – die spraying devices (VDMA 24492) and PDCM – metal feeding devices (VDMA 24493), these do not meet the requirements of interoperable information exchange between manufacturers. This is where the open interface standard “Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture (OPC UA)” is established, which is intended to define the mechanisms of cooperation in the industrial environment of die casting production. This ensures a manufacturer-independent exchange of data by defining uniform interfaces, which offers machine and plant manufacturers as well as plant operators various added values. In addition, condition monitoring, predictive maintenance and optimization of production can be implemented in a manufacturer-independent and barrier-free way in the diecasting cell network. In OPC UA, companies can map both the device and capability descriptions of their products in OPC UA, which are described in defined specifications, the so-called OPC UA Companion Specifications (CS). An OPC UA CS is a manufacturer-independent information model that represents the actual interface between components, machines and plants. With an OPC UA CS, a machine can be more easily integrated into a plant network, since standardized device and capability information is described equally by all manufacturers. In addition, a simplified connection to software systems for planning and controlling production is possible. Standardized device and capability information includes a description of the manufacturer’s name, device type and process data such as temperatures, pressures, axis speeds or cycle times, as well as organizational information such as the current batch designation of the production lot and information on the productivity and quality achieved.
Initiative of CEMAFON/VDMA Metallurgy
In mechanical and plant engineering, in addition to the implementation and use of the OPC UA basic functionality, information models are currently being created. These provide plant information in a standardized form. Although these information models can be individually designed by suppliers, an industry-specific agreement is preferable. Based on these considerations, the European association CEMAFON, together with VDMA Metallurgy and the OPC Foundation, has launched the “OPC UA High Pressure Die Casting Initiative” and involved the manufacturers of pressure die casting machines and associated equipment in the development of OPC UA functionalities. At the centre of the activities is the diecasting cell, which, in addition to the name-giving PDCM, covers the peripheral machines and equipment/devices required for the manufacture of die cast parts. A diecasting cell is usually composed of, e.g.,
• Pressure die casting tool,
• Metal feeding device (e.g. holding / dosing furnace),
• Die spraying device,
• Extracting device (e.g., robot),
• Timming press,
• Marking devices.
Scope of supply
The OPC UA Die Casting Specification, which is currently being developed by the OPC UA High Pressure Die Casting Initiative, will be divided into several parts:
1.) The first part contains the definition of a diecasting cell and all devices that fall within the scope of the Companion Specification (Scope CS).
2.) The second part contains the common interfaces of pressure die casting devices (Devices CS), which are aimed at communication among each other but also with devices and software outside the pressure die casting cell. In addition, common data types, data structures and functions are defined for all die casting equipment.
3.) Specific standards for die casting equipment are covered by additional parts of the Devices CS specification, each describing a specific device, e.g. the die casting machine, die casting furnace system, die casting metering device or die casting spray system.
The following list shows all equipment/devices for which corresponding CS are to be developed in the first work phase:
• Pressure die casting machine
• Pressure die casting tool
• Plunger Lubrication System for pressure die casting machines
• Pressure die casting furnace
• Pressure die casting dosing system
• Metal distribution system for pressure die casting plants
• Pressure die casting spraying system (actuator)
• Pressure die casting spraying head (tool)
• Pressure die casting lubricant mixing system
• Lubricant delivery for pressure die casting plants
• Thermoregulation system for pressure die casting
• Water cooling system for pressure die casting
• Jet-cooling system for pressure die casting
• Vacuum tank, pumps and secondary valves for pressure die casting
• Pressure die casting vacuum die interface (valve or vent)
• Part separation systems for pressure die casting cells
• Pressure die casting trimming press
• Pressure die casting trimming press tool
• Part handling robot for pressure die casting cells
• Part completeness check in pressure die casting cells
• Conveyors in pressure die casting cells