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Tool identification with Tool-ID from Balluff at Volkswagen engine plant Salzgitter

Use Cases | By Balluff | 06 November 2017
The tool magazines in the machining centres are equipped with Balluff Tool-ID read/write heads. The tool magazines in the machining centres are equipped with Balluff Tool-ID read/write heads. Photo: Balluff

Secure tool identification for 3,000 tools in 1.6 and 2.0 liter motor production

In a pilot project at the Volkswagen engine plant in Salzgitter, one of the flexible production lines is equipped with digital tool coding using BALLUFF RFID to verify the possibility of reducing tool changing times and making tool handling faster, simpler and more reliable.

The decision makers knew that they have laid the foundation for a great deal more valuable information with Tool-ID from BALLUFF.

By John Großpietsch, Freelance Editor for Balluff

Automobile manufacturers such as Volkswagen secure their competitiveness especially with attractive and competitive products as well as through high quality, innovative production techniques and managed costs. At the same time, changing customer desires, especially in times of increasing market saturation, demand more product diversification, which for the customer takes the form of a wider selection of variations and greater product innovations.

This results in smaller production quantities per variation in spite of the same or even in-creased total quantities. For this reason it was decided at the Volkswagen engine plant in Salzgitter to change the machine concept from specialty and transfer systems to highly flexible machining centers. Considering, however, the high number of cutting tool changes needed on such machining centers, it becomes quickly clear why finding solutions for reducing the changing times to a minimum becomes paramount.

How tool handling can be made faster, simpler and more reliable is seen in the example of one of their production lines in which the 1.6 liter and 2.0 liter motors are machined. These production lines are broken down into various work sequences, of which one of the more complex processes was selected in order to begin a pilot project with tool identification using industrial RFID.

This stage consists of eight dual-spindle machining centers for various drilling, milling and high-speed cutting operations. In this area around 800 tools are kept at the ready in the tool magazines. The total production line however includes around 3,000 tools carrying a Balluff RFID data carrier on 16 machining centers. Since cast iron is machined here and there are great demands on surface finish quality, tool changes are relatively frequent. The tool planners are Volkswagen are talking about over 200 tool change cycles per month in this production stage alone.

The required time just for exchanging the tools on the machines and including entering the necessary parameters in the machine controller is estimated to be as much as 30 or more man hours per month. This includes removing the tools from the machines and manually entering the tool life for example on the respective tool identity cards.

The intention was to replace the usual cards with industrial RFID data carriers in the tool holders in order to eliminate manual entry of the tool data in the machine controller. This also has the advantage of preventing entry mistakes when replacing the exchanging the tools. All the tool-relevant data are stored on the RFID data carriers in full, without the possibility of any error or mistake.  

This article was published in the "Company & Application Guide 2017 RFID | NFC | Smart Cards". Download your copy for free today and continue reading on page 102.

Last modified on Monday, 06 November 2017 09:23
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