We believe that: Digitalization is changing the industry as a whole and this will also have a major impact on manufacturing industry returns. With C.O.R.E., UNITED GRINDING takes CNC technology to a whole new level and lays the foundation for a new generation of machine tools that pave the way into the digital age.
In the last blog post, we discussed why digitization is important for the machine tool industry. In short: The future of industrial production is connected. Machine connectivity is the key phrase. This means that machines communicate with each other, exchange data, control each other, and manage themselves. In this context, we also talk about IoT (Internet of Things) applications. However, networking also means the connection between humans and machines, for example using intelligent HMIs, i.e. human-machine interfaces. Thanks to connectivity, processes, among other things, run more efficiently and productivity increases.
C.O.R.E. does not mean – based on the English "core" – the heart of the machine. It is short for Customer Oriented REvolution. In short: C.O.R.E. is the future of the machine. Let’s quickly look back to understand what we mean. The C.O.R.E. project was launched at UNITED GRINDING in 2015 when Industry 4.0 became an increasingly important topic of public discussion. UNITED GRINDING wondered how it was going to deal with this as a group. The idea: a cross-group operating system. Consequently, the UNITED GRINDING Group's eight brands from three different technology groups developed a common machine operating system. At the EMO 2021 in Milan, UNITED GRINDING unveiled the revolutionary new development.
Thanks to the uniform C.O.R.E. architecture, UNITED GRINDING machines can seamlessly exchange data with each other. The integrated umati interface can also be used to communicate with third-party systems. Improved connectivity offers a wealth of optimization opportunities, leading to greater efficiency in processes and greater transparency in production. It, therefore, forms the technical basis for many IoT and data applications. C.O.R.E. offers even more: revolutionary and uniform operation.
What are the new machine generation's identifying features? On the outside, the C.O.R.E. sticker on the machine. However, the new control panel is much more striking – a real innovation. “This is not a traditional panel, but an intelligent and clear command centre for operators,” Christian Josi explains as the Head of Digital Engineering at UNITED GRINDING. Because user experience was the focus in the development of C.O.R.E. Thanks to the new panel, the machine can practically be operated like a smartphone. Completely intuitive and almost exclusively via touch. UNITED GRINDING is thus preparing itself for the digital natives and consequently our next generation of machine operators.
Let’s take a closer look at the new control panel:
- Intuitive: Thanks to intuitive design with self-explanatory icons, browsing through the machine's menu and process steps is quick and easy. Practical: clear-cut multi-touch display. Buttons have been largely dispensed with.
- User-friendly: Each user configures their user interface as required for their work. Their individual settings are called up automatically after logging in with the RFID chip. Even if the panel switches to “Dark Factory Mode” when it's not in use: Production progress and machine state are clearly visible from a distance.
- Efficient: Intuitive and uniform machine operation cuts the time new machine operators spend training. Training costs are reduced – anyone who can operate one UNITED GRINDING Group machine can also operate all the group's other machines. This even helps to counteract the shortage of specialists. Errors are avoided thanks to the configurable and role-specific interface. This increases the efficiency and quality of programming. In addition, the standardized hardware helps reduce the number of required spare parts. Real-time information can be exchanged via the integrated front camera and a Bluetooth headset. This means that UNITED GRINDING Digital Solutions™ products can be used directly on the panel.
In addition to the control element, a high-performance industrial PC is another hardware component. This local digital platform expands traditional IT (information technology) to OT (operational technology). It provides a secure connection from the customer’s network to the inner workings of the machine. The so-called middleware runs on the PC in the background of the fully-fledged operating software. It establishes the connection to the existing applications that run in the background. Marcus Köhnlein, Head of Digital Business at UNITED GRINDING, promises that “in the upcoming releases, we will standardize these across all brands.”
The individual machine controls run at the very bottom of the software architecture, depending on the brand, these are developed by Siemens, Fanuc or other manufacturers. This step-by-step structure enables flexible and sustainable expansions. “New features are being added on an ongoing basis,” Christian Josi explains.
C.O.R.E. has been available with basic functionality since October 2021. "This will create a basis on which we will build in the future. New releases are planned to be launched every year, which we also develop on the basis of customer feedback," explains Marcus Köhnlein. The possibilities range from "camera-supported facial recognition, which identifies people at the machine and automatically sets their role in the system, to further support in the cooperation between humans and machines, so-called human-machine teaming" CTO Christoph Plüss explains. Artificial intelligence in the machine could, however, also enable features such as a virtual assistant or a self-optimizing machine, in which the system itself takes over operation and maintenance support, as well as process control tasks. The central interface to the customer could even become a customer portal, which, for example, can be used to maintain the master data via the machine.
The journey has only just begun, but the possibilities seem endless. We look forward to welcoming you on our journey and answering any questions you may have about C.O.R.E.