Ensuring maximum productivity via online quality monitoring
Adaptive control concepts for production facilities can be implemented, given systematic networking of process simulation, in closed and open loop control and quality monitoring systems. Ideally, control systems of this nature harness existing process knowledge, thereby permitting highly flexible manufacture. Optimum machine parameters, on which the control systems can draw, can be determined via integrated process simulations. This eliminates the need for costly iterations on the physical part until the optimum process parameters are identified.
The open loop control unit receives direct feedback relating to the on-going process and the condition of the part and the tool via a supplementary online quality monitoring facility linked to the closed loop control unit. This permits processes to be run at full throttle without risking part quality. Networking of all system and software solutions via suitable interfaces and data processing is a fundamental requirement. It is vital that the data are structured in databases, imported continuously, and evaluated using suitable analysis methods.
In the EU “AmbliFibre” research project, the Fraunhofer IPT in collaboration with international partners is developing an adaptive control concept of this nature for winding systems used to produce parts made of thermoplastic-based composite materials. It is intended that the facility will be just as suitable for use in the highly flexible production of products such as pipes for the oil and gas industries as for the pressure vessels used in the automotive sector.
To this end, the thermal characteristics in the process zone are analyzed by the simulation software integrated within the machine and the level of thermal energy required for winding is determined. At this point, it is necessary to ensure on one hand that there is a sufficient level of matrix system fusing whilst on the other hand that neither the system nor the materials overheat during the manufacturing process. The machine control unit can regulate and adapt the output of the heat source on the basis of the data analysis.
Continuous monitoring of the winding quality ensures that the production system can approach the maximum process speed without any adverse effect on product quality – a major boost for productivity.