Presetting & Measuring

Field Report: Economical Re-Grinding

SPREYER Werkzeug-Technik and ZOLLER develop re-grinding modules for CNC precision tool grinding facilities.

Industry 4.0 is an important current topic for industry and the economy. Work processes are becoming more digitalized and more networked, not only in these areas, but also increasingly in classic craft trades. One current example of a successful cooperation between an international manufacturer of measuring technology and a precision CNC grinding tool company shows the innovative capabilities behind these changes.

The approach itself was innovative: almost exactly one year ago, manufacturer of presetting and measuring machines ZOLLER from Pleidelsheim turned to SPREYER Werkzeug-Technik GmbH in Limburg/Lahn with a new idea. The goal was to work together to develop a “re-grinding module” for the »pomBasic« universal tool inspection device. »pomBasic« is a compact solution for universal tool inspection, which can measure any geometric feature of drill bits, milling cutters, countersinks, and even saw blades, independent of measurement parameters, with the support of the »pomSoft« image processing software.

Right from the start, responsible employees at ZOLLER clearly understood why the company sought out SPREYER Werkzeug-Technik GmbH as a cooperative partner. From ZOLLER's perspective, SPREYER has the optimal basic features needed for this kind of collaboration. SPREYER Werkzeug-Technik GmbH offers tool reconditioning and production for customized and customer-specific tools utilizing highly modern 5 axis CNC tool grinding centers. The company has long used the ZOLLER »genius 3« universal measuring machine for inspecting and logging grinding qualities. SPREYER prepares VHM, HSS, and PKD milling tools and drill bits for over 1,500 regular customers from Germany and abroad. The tool specialists from Limburg also handle HW, PKD, and HSS saw blades as part of their daily business.

“We were immediately fired up when ZOLLER came to us; we’re always interested in further improving the economic efficiency and reliability of our re-grinding processes,” says Jürgen Baldus, Managing Director of SPREYER Werkzeug-Technik GmbH about his first reaction to ZOLLER's request. Of course, he was well aware that this isn’t always the case when a manufacturer turns to a mid-sized company with a request for cooperation.
But this is exactly ZOLLER's mission: no matter how global the company becomes, it always stays close to its customers. This is the only way to adapt highly modern presetting and measuring machines to actual market requirements. “Our new developments always come about with our customers’ participation, instead of bypassing their needs; this is the only way to become more successful together!” says Dieter Müller, applications engineer at ZOLLER. ZOLLER employees also understand: the re-grinding business is a difficult one; many smaller companies are working at the limits of their profitability.

This is precisely why these two highly-motivated partners focused on both theory and practice in developing the »reGrind« »pomBasic« regrinding module: they wanted to develop a new tool for more economic efficiency and process security, to find a way to “finally make regrinding work more profitable” says Dieter Müller from ZOLLER.

The results are clear. Thanks to the new »reGrind« software module, the »pomBasic« tool inspection device can now be used in the »pomSoft« measuring instrument software as a “digital caliper” for all wear measurements on machining tools.

The process is clear and manageable: before the grinding process, a so-called “digital twin” is created. Then the tools are measured and checked for wear using high-resolution image processing. This makes even the smallest hairline fractures on the tool visible, for example, allowing it to be removed from service on the machine even before the actual grinding process begins.

If the tool passes the quality test and is rated as eligible for regrinding, the employee can transfer the services — determined fully automatically — directly to the machine program. One advantage of the cooperation is that ZOLLER has expanded data output to control mechanisms by adding a palleting program module. This means that one employee at SPREYER can complete all programming related to production planning for the machine entirely using »pomBasic«. The palleting file created in »pomBasic« is transmitted directly to the machine through the shop floor network, meaning all the machine operator has to do is press the start button. After the precision tools are reprocessed,  both they and the regrinding process can be handed over with full and clean documentation. ZOLLER is also currently working on an additional solution to allow this data to also be transferred digitally, including the “digital twin.”

The advantages this “digital caliper” has for users are clear:

  • Time savings and process security: the tool is clamped, positioned, measured, and can be immediately reground through a condensed work process. Subsequent measurements in the CNC machine are eliminated. The digital process and precise processing it provides allows the customer to be certain it will fit with one hundred percent precision.
  • Imaging documentation: if problems become apparent with the tool during inspection measurements (e.g. overheating), screenshots can be taken at any time to document the issue. This imaging-based process allows for fast, transparent consultations with customers; images can be sent by mail during the grinding process, for instance, for approval.
  • Data archive: generated data can be saved at any time for each individual tool, further simplifying future processes.

Everyone involved in the development process is certain that the »reGrind« regrinding module in »pomBasic« is going to bring about a lot of new movement in the tool inspection device market.

Together, they have developed a device that represents another module and another step in preparing classic regrinding businesses for “Industry 4.0.” The module will allow even smaller companies to not only maintain their profitability and competitive standing, but will also meet the needs of machining tool mechanics to only remove as much material from a tool as is truly necessary.

“We are already looking forward to receiving future inquiries from ZOLLER to work together on development projects, so that we can pave the way for the digital future — not only for our company, but also for our entire trade,” says Jürgen Baldus.

Author: Mario Hannappel,
Source: FDPW Forum, April 2016


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