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Even machine beds are now becoming ‘smart’

12 June, 2018

At the recent Hannover Fair, Bosch Rexroth demonstrated a machine bed fitted with sensors designed to help optimise the performance of the machinery built on top of the bed. The “smart” machine bed – developed in conjunction with the machine-bed manufacturer, Rampf Machine Systems, and the sensor-makers Balluff and Sick – sends temperature, pressure and vibration data to the machine controller which can compensate for changes in these variables in real time.

For example, cooling water flows can be optimised to prevent material changes caused by temperature variations. The optimised control also increases the cooling system’s energy efficiency.

“One of the main factors influencing component accuracy is the deformation of the machine geometry due to thermal factors,” explains Rampf’s managing director, Thomas Altmann. “By integrating sensors and actuators in machine beds, the supporting structure reacts to changing thermal operating states and environmental conditions. Deformations are therefore not subsequently compensated, but prevented from the outset.”

The sensors for the demo machine (a precision lathe) were incorporated into the epoxy resin-bonded mineral base when it was being cast. Later, when the machine was operating, they were used to monitor temperatures and pressures in its cooling system.

The Rampf machine bed used in the Hannover demonstration had sensors and actuators embedded in it during manufacturing

The guide carriages for the machine’s axes were also fitted with sensors. One axis was lubricated correctly, while another was unlubricated. Data analysis revealed clear differences in the temperature and vibration data of the axes, which were compared with the machine-bed data. In a real application, the rail sensors would detect any wear-and-tear on the guide carriages, allowing maintenance to be performed before a failure occurred.

The Hannover demonstration was part of Rexroth’s Factory of the Future project, in which sensors, machines, systems and processes are networked together to monitor entire production systems.

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