Partnership is the way forward when it comes to modern digital tools for industrial production. Sandvik is working in close partnership with Google Cloud to create an artificial intelligence solution for faster and more secure programming of metalworking machines.
No man is an island, and this is particularly true when new digital solutions are to be developed and customized for the needs of a business. The Sandvik Applied Manufacturing Technologies division applies this philosophy in its work to produce applications that can be used in various stages of metalworking.
One example is a partnership with Google Cloud, which focuses on facilitating the programming of metalworking machines.
“This is a completely new way of working with programming,” says Hugo Nordell, Vice President of the Center of Digital Excellence (CODE) at Sandvik. CODE is an R&D organization that has been established with the aim of promoting software-based product development for Sandvik’s customers. “The actual processing is only one part of the customer operations,” says Nordell. “They have to put a lot of time into such things as design, planning, programming, preparation, verification and evaluation in order to ensure that the business keeps running. In all these stages, it is possible to identify time- and cost-savings using digital solutions.”
One newly developed solution is the programming tool PrismTM, where the programming does not take place in the interface of the processing machines, but rather in a user-friendly and easily comprehensible solution on an iPad.
“One of the starting points has been the ability to work in 3D the whole time, instead of being forced to take a detour via 2D drawings, which have to be manually translated into 3D prior to processing. This is a major difference for the user. It is considerably less complicated and provides obvious opportunities for saving a great deal of time.”
Users insert a 3D model of what they want to produce and state the material and machine they want to use. Prism analyzes the geometry and proposes the processing methods, tools and cutting data that are optimal, based on the specific conditions.
“The system calculates cutting data, and as a user you avoid significant manual steps that do not create value. We have come to the conclusion that you can reduce the programming time by up to 94 percent for simple components.”
In the digital “engine” that drives Prism™, there are a number of different functions with artificial intelligence and machine learning, including solutions for the automatic recognition of which geometry can be processed with which cutting method, and which tool path is the best for minimizing machining time.
“This is a cloud-based solution,” says Nordell, “that has made it possible for small companies to gain access to digital tools that have previously been the domain of the biggest market participants, which are those with major investment resources.”
This is where the partnership with Google Cloud comes into the picture. “We have our own team of 15 people who work with development in data analytics, but to develop scalable solutions, it’s necessary to work in partnership. For many companies, this may be a new way of working, one with which they are unaccustomed. It requires transparency and to add value yourself, but it is an absolute must in the current situation, to enable more rapid delivery of value to the customer.”