Innovation through Cooperation
SIEB & MEYER adapts drive system to enhanced EST controls
Making good even better – in line with this motto, EST GmbH has enhanced the control systems of the flexE12 series. The advanced systems still cover diverse application areas, among them nut running and press fitting as well as the measurement of the friction coefficient and the distance. The new controls include features that now provide technical data for predictive maintenance, which can be parameterized via a web application. In addition, a new series of hand-held tools is supported – For the implementation of the required Ethernet interface, EST closely cooperates with their long-term partner SIEB & MEYER, who provides the drive system for the flexE12.
"Predictive maintenance and networked technology in terms of Industry 4.0 are trends of increasing relevance to our customers", explained Stefan Nuding, Managing Director of EST GmbH. "We want to offer the best possible support in this new field." This is why the tightening and control technology experts have enhanced the functions of their flexE12 controls. The first step included the transition to Linux as operating system. The result was an increased memory, allowing the storage and evaluation of the technical data necessary for predictive maintenance. The fundamentally reworked control is offered under the name flexE12 4.0.
Predictive maintenance and online parameterization
In practice, it works as follows: During idle time – i.e. when no tightening nor press fitting takes place – the control automatically performs various self-tests. Thus, users get valuable hints on the current state of the overall system (tightening tool or assembly unit, including the control). Moreover, a data chip on which the maintenance history file is stored can be integrated into the tools. It allows for reading out the history of the device at any time – e.g., when and where it has been deployed or maintained. The advantage is that no database access is required, because the evaluation is performed directly on the tool. Appropriate user rights can individually assigned.
Another enhancement is the matching web application. "Up to now, the system has been equipped with a regular parameterization interface", stated Stefan Nuding. "We have now developed a user-friendly web interface that allows parameterizing and operating the controls. In addition, users can control external modules such as valves or cylinders via this interface."
Connecting tools – now also via Ethernet
Last but not least, EST now offers the connection of a new generation of hand-held tightening tools. Although EST does not have the appropriate tightening tools in its portfolio, customers can flexibly and modularly connect devices from other manufacturers, including most recently a cutting-edge hand-held tightening tool that is connected to the control via an Ethernet interface. "The benefit to the client, among other things, is that he only needs a very thin cable for the signal transmission between the tool and the control", said Stefan Nuding.
The implementation of the new Ethernet interface, however, has required considerable development effort. "EST has already been using our SD2 drive system in their previous generation of flexE12 controls for several years", explained Ralph Sawallisch, Key Account Manager Drive Technology at SIEB & MEYER. "We have been closely working together with EST in this new project over months. Within this scope, we have developed an individual front-end that now has been extended with the Ethernet interface."
A promising collaboration
SD2 by SIEB & MEYER is a universal drive solution, which meets the high demands concerning process accuracy of the EST controls. Even during the development of the first generation of flexE12 controls, an "off-the-shelf drive system" was not sufficient: "The standard version of SD2 does not know what nut running means", explained Ralph Sawallisch. "Important functions such as the process control, the visualization and the communication with the host computers are missing." Therefore, when starting the project in 2005, EST developed their own control board, which covers these functions. SIEB & MEYER has designed the circuit for the device control of SD2, while EST has integrated this circuit in its own layout. In this special case, SIEB & MEYER provides SD2 without control board that is manufactured and implemented by EST. The control board is an integral component of SD2 and is also powered by the device.
"You could say that EST buys a brainless device from us", said Ralph Sawallisch. "EST manufactures these brains themselves, while we contribute the know-how for the circuit. Now, we are continuously improving the brains together in order to make them fit for the latest requirements – in this specific case, to be able to communicate with the new generation of tools." The long-term cooperation with EST is a prime example of one of the core competencies of SIEB & MEYER: the design and realization of customized drive concepts. The company from Lueneburg offers full service to its customers – from the first consultation through development to series production. The offer ranges from simple hardware adaptations to completely new devices and functions.
EST Managing Director Stefan Nuding is absolutely satisfied with the cooperation. "We have already mastered several challenges together and will continue doing so. With SIEB & MEYER, we have a competent partner at our side who helps us to fulfil all customer requirements." The fact that EST will continue to break new ground in the future is shown by a recently realized research project: On behalf of a customer, the experts have enabled the storage and evaluation of data from the flexE12 4.0 control in a cloud.