Taking PLM to production with Shop Floor Connect for Teamcenter

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1 Siemens PLM Software Taking PLM to production with Shop Floor Connect for Teamcenter White Paper Bridging the gap between engineering and production. Answers for industry. 1

2 Contents Executive summary... 3 Historical role of DNC... 4 Physical connectivity to machine tools... 4 Lack of computer memory in controllers... 4 The current role of DNC systems... 5 Modern communications and controllers... 5 Managing data... 5 Shop floor challenges in CNC data management and distribution... 6 Local databases on the shop floor... 6 A weak link in the process... 6 Traceability and regulatory compliance... 6 The solution to shop floor data management, access and distribution... 7 Data transfer rather than data storage... 7 Shop Floor Connect for Teamcenter... 7 Access to Teamcenter using web technology... 8 Shop Floor User Interface... 8 Access from shop floor PC stations... 8 Access via mobile devices... 8 Access from machine tool controllers... 8 High reliability data access... 9 Establishing machine tool connections... 9 Shop floor changes or other input back to engineering... 9 Solution positioning of Shop Floor Connect for Teamcenter Conclusion Appendix Teamcenter in manufacturing An out-of-the-box manufacturing data model

3 Executive summary Typically, the production of parts on the shop floor is the most tangible element of an overall process that spans initial product design to delivery. The production processes and activities are normally not planned on the shop floor, but are defined in an upstream engineering environment. Here manufacturing engineers create the manufacturing plans; for instance, they may use computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software to prepare numerical control (NC) programs to drive machine tools. To create an effective overall process it is necessary to transfer this manufacturing plan and all the production data to the shop floor in a timely and accurate manner. A key element of creating an effective connection between engineering and the shop floor is determined by how the data is transferred between these two environments. The question is how easy and convenient is it to access that data from the shop floor, and can the user be certain that the correct version of that data is being viewed? Finally, once the data has been received and used in production on the shop floor, is there any record of the data being accessed and used? These points and questions are the major focus of this paper. For several decades, part manufacturing companies have been feeding electronic program data to computer controller machine tools. In the early days, the big challenges revolved around the availability of physical and electronic connections and the very limited amount of data storage space available on machine tool controllers. Distributed Numerical Control (DNC) systems were offered to address these hardware issues. Today, these issues have been overcome with modern networking and almost limitless memory options on machine tools. However, DNC still has a role to play in the modern production environment, but now the focus is more on data management and the convenience and accuracy of data distribution. The implication of where the data is stored is a key point in this paper. Shop Floor Connect for Teamcenter software from Siemens PLM Software is a solution that addresses some key aspects of the issues outlined above. Its purpose, functions and benefits are described in this paper. 3

4 Historical role of DNC Physical connectivity to machine tools DNC systems were originally devised to connect to machine tool controllers so CNC code data could be passed to them. In the early days of CNC machines, computer communication technology was relatively immature, limited both in terms of physical connection options and performance. The Ethernet had not been invented, and most machine controllers needed add-in cards to provide even the most basic communication connections. Lack of computer memory in controllers Almost as big of a challenge in the early days of DNC systems was the fact that most electronic equipment had very little data memory by today s standards. Even the smallest CNC programs had to be fed almost line-by-line into the controller. Early DNC systems were actually a mix of hardware devices and software aimed at providing this initial form of connectivity. 4

5 The current role of DNC systems Modern communications and controllers We take high speed data communications for granted these days because almost every device has multiple connection options and all modern machine controllers have built-in networking capabilities. The physical connections are typically standard computer network style hook-ups based on Ethernet connections. The communication protocols are also standard computer networking protocols. This provides highspeed, virtually trouble-free data transfer. Wireless connections are standard options or can easily be added to save the need for wiring networks. Modern controllers are powerful computers that have ample data memory, a low cost feature on all of today s equipment. Storing and handling large NC programs within the machine controller is normally not an issue on modern equipment. So many of the challenges that drove the need for early DNC systems no longer exist. In fact, once these early issues were overcome in the late 1990 s with the more modern machine controllers and communication technology, many of the DNC systems and providers seemed to disappear from the market. Managing data However, one key requirement that became associated with DNC remains to this day: managing the data and its distribution to the machine tools. The term DNC is still in use in this solution area even though the system requirements and the problems being addressed have changed. Today, DNC solutions primarily address the need to be able to send the right data files to the right machines at the right time. So DNC systems are essentially databases that can manage CNC data packages with software that can manage the distribution of selected files to target machines, possibly with options for control and reporting. Some DNC systems may include machining simulation so that NC programs can be reviewed and checked in the same system. Typically, the modern DNC package runs on standard PC computer hardware. Usually there is no heavy computation required so the PCs can be standard machines, perhaps ruggedized to withstand the rigors of being located on the shop floor. The last point is worth noting. Typically, modern DNC software is seen as a shop floor system and used by shop floor staff. The DNC software will usually have a simple database that is local to the shop floor implementation and stores packages of current production data. We use the term packages since most scenarios would involve managing more than just the CNC part program that runs on the controller. Typically, there are associated setup sheets, tool lists, stock and part model representations; even movie files to show an operator how to arrange something or what the machining process looks like on a program simulator. 5

6 Shop floor challenges in CNC data management and distribution Today, DNC solutions are often standalone applications that have very specific data management functions and communication capabilities. They need to be connected not only to the target machine tools that they serve with NC programs, but also to the source of these NC files, which are typically CAM (NC programming) systems. In most cases, these DNC systems have their own local databases that can receive and store data from an engineering programming office and then direct that data to a target machine tool. These data management and distribution tasks are not particularly demanding for modern software. The amount of data is not usually too substantial for a database system to handle, and the user interface (UI) for shop floor use has to be reasonably straightforward. These basic use cases are not a challenge for the typical DNC software solution. Local databases on the shop floor However, there is one aspect of this that can be a problem. At its core, a typical DNC solution will have a local database. This is used as a local store for work package data, NC program files, etc., and is set up for the range of production jobs that could take place on the shop floor. The existence of a local database can be a key challenge that is associated with a typical DNC solution. At the simplest level, having this critical production data managed in a shop floor DNC system typically means that the data is now replicated from its original source. The DNC system will probably have its own security mechanism to protect the data from unauthorized access. It may be able to be used to assign different levels of authority to named users. However, in many cases these aspects of the system will not be synchronized with other major company systems. Users will need local user profiles that relate only to the DNC system and are not automatically driven by a master company information technology (IT) infrastructure. For companies in which data security and process integrity are important, this adds another possible disconnect in the overall design-to-production process. A weak link in the process This can potentially put the user of a traditional DNC system in a difficult position. Many companies have made significant investments in advanced data management with high levels of security in terms of system access, transaction management and reporting (who did what and when) in most parts of their business. Design offices may use advanced product lifecycle management (PLM) tools to achieve this. Manufacturing and production planners are increasingly turning to the use of data management technology, in some cases using software developed from, and fully compatible with, the systems used in product design. Finance and operations departments will have all-encompassing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that run large sections of the business minute-by-minute with high levels of system security and integrity. So to use critical manufacturing data on machine tools that are managed within standalone databases that are separate from the major company systems can be a weak link in the overall data flow. The idea of a separate database being used to store key work package data on the shop floor can be a critical source of potential errors and represents a weak link in the overall process chain. Using the wrong version of production-ready data means wasting production time, materials and other resources. This is unacceptable in an industry that places a premium on reducing costs and meeting deadlines. Traceability and regulatory compliance There are some industries in which it is critical to show that full control of data is maintained throughout the complete business process from concept to customer delivery. A fully traceable record with all names, times and content recorded is expected. The medical device or aerospace industries are obvious examples of domains in which this level of regulatory compliance can be mandated. Many companies will aspire to the highest level of process integrity and information management simply because it is required to achieve business accountability and high levels of efficiency. Failing in this area is not damaging in terms of direct costs. However, the implications of being found to be lacking in this area can have far reaching effects that go well beyond direct costs. Understandably, many companies may not want to have critical data being moved to and through what are effectively standalone databases that exist outside of their mainstream systems. However, they still need to manage this information, including being able to access it, review it on the shop floor and direct it to the right machine tools. So the challenge becomes how to provide the key DNC-type capabilities of NC data management and shop floor distribution to machine tools without the inherent liabilities, risks and issues that come with a separate database. 6

7 The solution to shop floor data management, access and distribution The key to providing essential DNC capabilities without introducing a separate database can be found by implementing a system that moves information but does not need to copy it to a new data store, except for at the point of use, such as the target machine tool. Data transfer rather than data storage The data that needs to be distributed to each machine tool typically originates in a controlled (managed) environment in manufacturing engineering. In most cases, companies will want to make sure that the latest (read: correct) version of a set of manufacturing data (NC program files, setup sheets, tool list, work instructions, etc.) that has been checked and released by manufacturing engineering is sent to the right machine tool. The possible solution to this separate database problem is to move the required data directly to the point of use from this source environment without needing to save it locally. This would mean that the production-critical data within the manufacturing plan could be maintained within a major company system and only dispatched to the production machine s controller when the job is queued for execution. However, the shop floor staff still needs to manage this process so the desired solution needs to provide user access with the appropriate UI, access control (read: security), etc. Obviously, this system needs to be able to be used to locate the available production-ready data packages (work packages) and transmit them to the range of target points of use (such as machine tools or tool pre-setter stations). Shop Floor Connect for Teamcenter The Siemens PLM Software solution to achieve the data transfer concept uses web server technology behind the scenes and web browser software for the user access and display. As the name suggests, Shop Floor Connect for Teamcenter is designed to work with Teamcenter to manage engineering data. Teamcenter is one of the most widely deployed PLM data management software systems. It is used in a wide range of discrete manufacturing companies to manage information as well as engineering processes in both design and manufacturing planning domains. In fact, Teamcenter has a specially extended data model that handles manufacturing planning data the how, with what resources and where information that can be linked to every revision of a part or product. Shop manager Operator Machine 1 CAD CAM Wireless Machine 2 Teamcenter Shop Floor Connect Machine 3 Machine 4 Process planning Tool libraries Machine 5 Operator Manufacturing Engineering Shop Floor Figure 1: Shop Floor Connect provides access to the manufacturing plan and connects directly to machine tools. 7

8 With Teamcenter as the secure repository of the released manufacturing plan (including NC program files, work instructions, etc.), Shop Floor Connect allows an authorized shop floor user to access the ready for production area of the Teamcenter database. Using a simplified UI within a web browser display, data packages can be identified by specifying the target machines, project numbers or by any means that a company identifies shop floor projects. Once identified, the user can open the package, review and check the contents and then send them to a point of use, typically a target machine tool. By doing this, the data is moved directly from the secure, released work package area within Teamcenter to the required point of use. The data is not replicated locally and is not held in a separate database outside of the core company systems. Access to Teamcenter using web technology You can access data that is managed in Teamcenter from the shop floor by using one of the standard Teamcenter user clients and interfaces. Shop Floor Connect provides a mechanism to access Teamcenter by using web technology while at the same time establishing and maintaining connectivity to machine tools and other shop floor equipment. Most importantly, it can do so without needing to replicate any part of the Teamcenter database. In a later section, the topic of guaranteed data accessibility and system resilience will be discussed. Shop Floor User Interface The Shop Floor Connect web interface is especially designed for shop floor usage. The system uses a standard web browser. Plug-ins such as 3D model viewers may be needed to allow specialized file types to be opened as a part of a review or checking process. The shop floor display is intended to provide only those functions needed and provides access only to relevant data (for example, NC files, shop documentation, tool and fixture lists). Teamcenter is used to manage access control for security. Access from shop floor PC stations As indicated above, Shop Floor Connect is accessed using a standard web browser-based interface and network connection method. This means that the system can be used on virtually any standard computer. In the typical environment, an operator working at a machine could use Shop Floor Connect to find, select and transfer NC program files to that machine, or the same function could be carried out by a shop manager from a central location. In the latter case, the available program files in Teamcenter targeted for a particular machine could be found using Shop Floor Connect. The user could identify the right job, perhaps by project number, open the files to review and check as needed, and then request a transfer of the NC program file to that machine. The program file can then be moved directly from the secure, released data area of Teamcenter directly to the machine controller, and the action, requester and date and time can be recorded in Teamcenter. Access via mobile devices Since Shop Floor Connects uses a standard web browser UI the system can be accessed directly via any mobile device that supports a web browser and has a large enough screen display. Most tablet devices and even large smart phones can easily be used subject to the IT network connections that are allowed from such devices within the organization. Access from machine tool controllers Some machine tool controllers are equipped with web browsers as a part of their UI options. With the right level of network connection, a machine operator could use this web browser interface on the controller to access Teamcenter via the Shop Floor Connect system. This would allow the operator to find, select and download NC program files directly to the machine controller from the released work area of Teamcenter. This assumes that the operator has authorized access to the system so Teamcenter can be used to record the action and download details. Figure 2: Shop Floor Connect web browser display and access via mobile devices. 8

9 High reliability data access Engineering systems based on Teamcenter might not provide the 24/7 level of data availability needed by production if the data is maintained by or for engineering. This can be addressed by having a released data area of the Teamcenter system on a high-reliability, high-availability server. Typically, its physical location is not an issue. Teamcenter can be used to manage areas of the data on separate servers. In fact, the latter is simply an IT organizational and management consideration and the data would always remain within the single logical data environment that Teamcenter provides until it is moved by a Shop Floor Connect user directly to the point of use, such as a machine tool controller or a tool pre-setter station. This means that even if the engineering implementation of Teamcenter was offline, or became unavailable to the users on the shop floor, the system can be configured so the ready for production work package data is always online for shop floor access, even though it remains secure in the Teamcenter system. As a further backup mechanism, some companies will automatically maintain a parallel store of the production-ready data in a separate database that Shop Floor Connect can be used to connect to in an emergency. Establishing machine tool connections Creating new connections to the machine tool requires explicit knowledge of the NC controller and its connections to the Local Area Network (LAN) used on the shop floor. For It makes little difference what type of connection is used for Shop Floor Connect: it can be cable or wireless, Ethernetbased or an older serial connection depending on the controller. A key element of a solution proposal is a detailed assessment of the machine tools to be connected to Shop Floor Connect. There are standard software connection configurations available for many modern machine tools and controllers. Others may require some special configuration to set up the communication with Shop Floor Connect for Teamcenter. This configuration should be built into a system implementation plan. Shop floor changes or other input back to engineering One advantage of having the Shop Floor Connect acting as a direct link to the source of the work packages in engineering is that it is possible to send information back to engineering using the same system. If permissible (and NC program files are actually edited on the shop floor), the new version of the program file (or any other edited data) can be loaded back to Teamcenter via Shop Floor Connect. The system will automatically create a new version of the data in Teamcenter so that there is no risk of over-writing the original work package data. The shop floor user can also add comments or other information regarding the work package, such as notes on tool selection or on feed and speed data, and have these sent back to engineering and linked to a target work package. Web clients for user access Teamcenter Shop Floor Connect web server Engineering data store Released data store Web connection for machine tools Figure 3: Shop Floor Connect accesses a released data area, which can be on a high-reliability server system. 9

10 Solution positioning of Shop Floor Connect for Teamcenter Shop Floor Connect for Teamcenter is often described as a DNC system. It provides many of the functions that are associated with DNC software, including the management and distribution of manufacturing data on the shop floor, such as NC programs for machine tools. However, the primary differentiator between Shop Floor Connect for Teamcenter versus conventional DNC systems is that it is designed to provide direct shop floor access to the information that makes up a manufacturing plan without having an independent copy of that data on a separate shop floor system. Thus the system is intended for companies that have established manufacturing engineering facilities with offline programming and planning functions in which it is desirable to maintain close control of the manufacturing data right to the point of execution. 10

11 Conclusion Shop Floor Connect for Teamcenter provides a means to bridge the gap in communications that can exist between engineering and production. The concept is two-fold: establish one master source for critical information, and execute a controlled transfer of that information. That is certainly preferable to copying data to separate floor systems. Unlike many engineering systems that focus only on product definitions or just use generic data management, Teamcenter offers an internal data structure designed specifically for manufacturing plan information. Teamcenter extends the reach of company systems into the shop floor environment by allowing controlled and recorded access to productionready work packages. This reduces the risk of time and material waste that can be caused by data errors, maintains a traceable information flow from engineering to production and supports the flow of updates back to engineering from the shop floor. 11

12 Appendix Teamcenter in manufacturing The most common role of Teamcenter in a discrete manufacturing company is as a platform to support PLM. The most common use has grown out of the design engineering department s need to address accurate data management in support of iterative design processes. Over the last decade there has been an increase in the use of the same core technology within other domains, including manufacturing engineering. In fact, it has been argued that the need for data management increases exponentially as one moves downstream in the overall lifecycle. Typically, for every product item there are associated manufacturing process definitions, often with multiple steps, sometimes with multiple alterative processes, depending on the target manufacturing location or resource. Then for every manufacturing process step or operation, there are links to the necessary manufacturing resource definitions required for that task. This closely interconnected data forms the basis of a manufacturing plan and requires specialized data management with access control, revision and configuration control (similar to the product design data process). An out-of-the-box manufacturing data model Teamcenter offers an extended data model that is specifically designed to manage manufacturing plans and the resulting work packages. Applications such as NX CAM software from Siemens PLM Software have direct interfaces to Teamcenter, allowing the CAM (NC data) to be automatically saved and managed as manufacturing process information inside Teamcenter. This arrangement is depicted in Figure 1. Other applications in engineering can also be set to access and save data to and from Teamcenter, such as tool and fixture design or inspection programing (all possible in NX). Third party applications may also be connected, and some companies will use multiple software systems to author or validate (simulate) a manufacturing process or resource definition. 12

13 Siemens Industry Software Headquarters Granite Park One 5800 Granite Parkway Suite 600 Plano, TX USA Americas Granite Park One 5800 Granite Parkway Suite 600 Plano, TX USA About Siemens PLM Software Siemens PLM Software, a business unit of the Siemens Industry Automation Division, is a leading global provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) software and services with seven million licensed seats and more than 71,000 customers worldwide. Headquartered in Plano, Texas, Siemens PLM Software works collaboratively with companies to deliver open solutions that help them turn more ideas into successful products. For more information on Siemens PLM Software products and services, visit Europe Stephenson House Sir William Siemens Square Frimley, Camberley Surrey, GU16 8QD +44 (0) Asia-Pacific Suites , 43/F AIA Kowloon Tower, Landmark East 100 How Ming Street Kwun Tong, Kowloon Hong Kong Siemens and the Siemens logo are registered trademarks of Siemens AG. D-Cubed, Femap, Geolus, GO PLM, I-deas, Insight, JT, NX, Parasolid, Solid Edge, Teamcenter, Tecnomatix and Velocity Series are trademarks or registered trademarks of Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and in other countries. All other logos, trademarks, registered trademarks or service marks used herein are the property of their respective holders Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. Y /13 C 13

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