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Future State of Control Systems in Precision Machining

Updated: Mar 3, 2022

The control system is the core of CNC machines. It is responsible for regulating the performance of CNC machines involved in the production processes such as milling, turning, polishing, grinding, and even monitoring physical parts. Since the first industrial revolution, the control system has undergone rapid transformation making it highly automated, autonomous, and intuitive to meet the rapidly changing requirements of modern factories and businesses.

However, machine autonomy is still in a very nascent stage today. We can still see the influence of the automation-driven third industrial revolution, or Industry 3.0, in the machining industry. Limitations still mar today's conventional control systems due to the lack of machine autonomy. These control systems are unable to execute control over changing production conditions as they are instructed to run on a set of predetermined rules under predictable conditions. They cannot make independent judgments and decisions to production processes when machines encounter issues. They offer limited ability to monitor and analyze information automatically related to processing procedures and conditions.

Additionally, these control systems cannot handle more than one process optimization objective at a time, thus making them incapable of functioning at a multi-objective optimization level where objectives like high production efficiency, energy-saving, and low carbon are taken into account. Any deviation in instructions would render them unresponsive. Moreover, they are still reliant on the expertise of human machinists to perform at the optimum level. That being said, any change in guard with a novice operator would result in poor output in terms of quality and quantity.

Enter Industry 4.0, has gradually initiated a paradigm shift in the ways things are or will be manufactured. The CNC machining industry has started witnessing the possible impacts and the associated disruptions of Industry 4.0, and it will possibly bring about radical transformations in the way machining is done. Industry 4.0 has increased machine autonomy, enabling machines to become more intelligent, connected, and agile.

Industry 4.0 has started greater integration and connectivity among CNC machines, production lines, and control systems with the help of information and communication technology, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), making the machines intelligent or autonomous, requiring less or no human input in their operations. The IoT enables these smart machines or devices to be connected to the Internet and other similar devices and communicate or share information among them through embedded software and sensors.

At the predictive level, the integration of machines and Industry 4.0-associated smart technologies like machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), industrial Internet of things (IIoT), and other analytical tools has provided diagnostic and predictive capabilities to CNC shops, OEMs and manufacturers through analysis of accurate and consistent real-time machine data. Thus, helping them operate the machines at optimal effectiveness and performance, leading to optimal productivity. It permits the prediction of machine downtime and availability, giving time for managers to plan and manage the event properly. This predictive capability also helps reduce tool failure and prolongs tool life.

At the prescriptive level, it assists manufacturers in charting patterns and prescribing appropriate actions to achieve a desired result in the CNC machining plants, thus giving them a competitive advantage. The use of adaptive and self-optimizing technology, such as intelligent control systems (ICS), allows machines to adapt in real-time to changing instructions and conditions through their ability to self-learn and improvise.

These intelligent control systems can use information from process sensors and neural networks to autonomously adjust process functions, including cutting speed and depth. These intelligent machines allow self-calibration, vibration and thermal compensation, voice indication, and remote maintenance activities. Machines with intelligent control systems behave and act like humans in real-life manufacturing sites and can easily communicate with operators through self-learning and evolutionary procedures to remind the need for maintenance and remote diagnosis. They can also conduct a quality assessment of the machining processes and evaluate the precision of the machined products. These intelligent machines also promote the integration of multiple CNC machines that currently function and operate independently, thus enhancing the efficiencies of plants that focus on the prototype to production manufacturing.

Lambda Function's ICS leverages machine-generated process parameter data, shop floor contextual data, and product lifecycle engineering data to generate performance evaluation reports, conduct process impact analysis, and most-importantly, assist machinists in effective real-time decision-making.

At Lambda Function, we are building solutions for you (machine shops) to machine your parts accurately and in real-time. Our portfolio of solutions assists you to achieve higher machine uptime, enhanced yield, increased throughput, optimized annual expenditure on tool maintenance, and improved staff productivity.

Learn more about our ICS platform by checking our product demo. Early Bird Access

Lead the industry towards autonomous precision machining. Join our beta waitlist and be the first to experience Lambda Function's ICS platform.

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