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Siemens slashes machine development time for PTG Holroyd

As a machine tool builder, Rochdale-based PTG Holroyd is regarded as a world leader in the creation of highly sophisticated rotor milling, rotor grinding and friction stir welding machines. With three divisions in the company, each with a highly sophisticated niche, the manufacturer has further evolved its longstanding partnership with Siemens following the arrival of a new CNC control system for its machine tools.

As a business, Holroyd has been producing machines in Greater Manchester since 1860 and is a world leader in the design, build and supply of high-precision gear, rotor, screw and thread milling and grinding machines for the manufacture of ultra-precise helical components – and it is here that the relationship with Siemens is reaping rewards.

Commenting upon the evolution of the relationship, PTG Holroyd Sales Director, Mr Mark Curran says: “We have worked together with Siemens for more than 25 years. When we discussed with Siemens that we were creating a new design of machine, they informed us that there was a new control system coming to market.”

The new machine development is the PTG Holroyd HG350-G helical grinding centre for the production of gears and threads up to 350mm in diameter. The first machine tool from PTG Holroyd to use Siemens’ new SINUMERIK ONE future-proof CNC, the HG350-G offers greater levels of flexibility for manufacturers of precision spur gears, helical gears, worms, screws and rotors. The HG350-G is a self-contained production cell that features an extended machine bed to accommodate screws and worm shafts of up to one metre in length with uncompromising levels of precision finish.

“When we discussed with Siemens that we were creating a new design of machine, they informed us of the new control and we decided it was a good time to partner with Siemens with the SINUMERIK ONE control,” says Mark Curran.

Looking at the reasons for working with Siemens, Wayne Hallam, a Project Engineer at PTG Holroyd says: “We chose to work with Siemens because of the support that they give us. Additionally, the system enables us to combine many different software suites into one package – as it is a modular system. With the power of the Siemens Digital Twin ‘Create MyVirtual Machine’, it is easy to commission all software packages off-line and then prove them on our machines once they are built.”

Create MyVirtual Machine is a virtual CNC with behaviour identical to that of an actual CNC within the machine. Not to be underestimated, a CNC is adapted to a particular machine tool based on several thousand items of machine data – and this is where many simulation suppliers fall down. As CNCs in their software solutions only simulate to a sufficiently accurate degree, the testing of CNC programs is only possible to a limited extent – and the measurement of runtimes is impossible. Create MyVirtual Machine from Siemens has a clear advantage, as CNC programs are tested with exactly the same CNC setup as in the machine. This enables the CNC program runtime to be measured with an accuracy above 90%.

As Mark Curran continues: “We wanted to future-proof the machine because of the software we are developing. Our platform enables multiple suites of software on the machine, so we needed a very powerful system. Currently, SINUMERIK ONE is the most powerful control on the market.”

Discussing this future-proofing, Siemens Application Engineer Garry Mepham says: “It’s future-proofed because we offer enhanced connectivity possibilities with additional PROFINET interfaces, OPC/UA interfaces and increased performance. We can do this as the CNC is now up to 50% more powerful than the previous control and the PLC is 10 times faster. This is thanks to the newly integrated state-of-the-art 1500 PLC. SINUMERIK ONE boasts compatibility with previous versions, so from an operator point of view it is very familiar – it’s just the interface that is slightly enhanced. It still boasts all of the open architecture and possibilities that people come to know with Siemens and this leads to the possibility to program modular design concepts that are important to modern machine tool builders and their concepts. SINUMERIK ONE also boasts increased security in terms of the connectivity between the networking components in the system and the HMI on a control panel as well as external devices such as servers, PCs and the internet with completely encrypted security that is certified for the modern environment.”

As Mark Curran continues: “With previous machine tool developments, we have had to have the machine on the shop floor to start the software development. With the ‘Create MyVirtual Machine’, we have been able to almost completely create all of the software and the PLC software before the physical machine becomes available. This has reduced the lead time significantly.”

Siemens Application Engineer Garry Mepham adds to this, saying: “The digital twin forms part of the many digitalisation offerings Siemens has. In the case of SINUMERIK ONE, we have two products. These are ‘Create MyVirtual Machine’ and ‘Run MyVirtual Machine’. Create MyVirtual Machine is aimed at the machine tool builder and Run MyVirtual Machine has been developed for the end-user of the machines. With the digital twin, the key features of Create MyVirtual Machine are the ability to test the concept remotely through to safely develop and test the reaction, should a fault occur on the machine. This enables users to speed up the commissioning process by up to 30% if not more.”

“For the end-users utilising Run MyVirtual Machine, they can verify their toolpaths and machining processes by running this software package. This system gives operators confidence that when they verify a toolpath, they have a very accurate representation of the cycle time. This enables the user to be confident that when it is issued to the physical machine, the part is right the first time with no collision risk. Using SINUMERIK ONE in conjunction with Create MyVirtual Machine or Run MyVirtual Machine, some of the key benefits include a significant saving on resources. For example, we can do our testing, verification and development in a virtual environment rather than in a real machine, so energy efficiencies and cost savings are there to be made. These help machine tool builders achieve their sustainability goals whilst compressing product development.”

Concluding on the SINUMERIK ONE and its relationship with Siemens, PTG Holroyd Sales Director, Mr Mark Curran concludes: “The HG350-G doesn’t only bring new levels of flexibility to our customers but with the Siemens Sinumerik ONE control system – it represents a new era for machine tool manufacturing.”

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