Press Brake Tooling

Wila introduces Smart Tooling Concept

By Lynn Stanley

Above: Wila’s new Smart Tooling Concept uses a smartphone app to help manufacturers manage tooling and access tool data anytime, anywhere.

Smart Tooling Concept provides error-free tool data entry and simplified stock management 

October 2018 - Autonomy surrounds consumers these days from intelligent cars and smart appliances to virtual assistants. The word “smart” has become synonymous with any gadget or inanimate object that can connect, share and interact with its human counterpart and other devices. Statistica reports the “smart house market alone will approach $40 billion in the United States alone by 2020.” Fifty-seven percent of Americans say that equipping their homes with smart products saves them 30 minutes a day or 182.5 hours a year.

Manufacturers are also looking to cash in on smart technology so that they can regain lost production time and approach quality or yield problems proactively. Inroads have been made with smart machines that can communicate with operators and other equipment via software, tablets and phones. But there is one segment that has remained singularly conservative when it comes to adopting smart technology.

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A TIPS electronic communication board can be integrated into any New Standard Premium automatic clamping system for two-way communication with the press brake.

At Fabtech 2018, clamping system and press brake tooling manufacturer Wila USA will unveil its Smart Tooling Concept. The technology, which works through a smartphone app for Android and iOS, will allow manufacturers to manage tooling and access tool data anytime, anywhere.

Building blocks

“Industries continue to migrate toward smart factories,” says Wila Global Sales and Marketing Director Michiel Wensing. “Production units have to be able to cooperate and communicate. Automation and data exchange are critical components of that transition. Data extraction allows manufacturers to analyze their production processes and quickly identify problem areas. We’ve followed these trends along with that of automation, which continues to be the go-to for boosting throughput and helping fill the skills gap.”

Mechanization has infiltrated the press brake market in the form of automated tool change systems and press brakes that are operated by robots. Yet when it comes to developing tooling that is intuitive, Wensing says gains typically centered on creating different types of tooling instead.

“That’s not really a technology breakthrough. We believe it is possible for a manufacturer to collect data from tooling and to enable a press brake to recognize its own tooling and collect data from it. We’ve been the only tooling OEM to follow this path,” he claims.

Prior to developing the Smart Tooling Concept, Wila launched a Tooling Identification and Positioning System (TIPS) in 2016, integrating it with the press brake control system to identify tools and continuously read their position. Tools are localized and identified whether or not they are located in the press brake’s upper clamping, lower clamping or storage system. TIPS confirms the correct tool and tool length for the application and identifies exact positioning in the clamping system, ensuring what the company terms “first-time-right production runs.”

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Tool Advisor, a web platform, allows an operator to access recommendations to match the right tool to the application.

Wila New Standard Premium tooling can be equipped with a TIPS ID tag. Each ID tag has a unique serial number that is connected to a database, which represents tool-specific information such as length, type, maximum load and other criteria that identify the tool.

In addition to eliminating errors and the need for test bends, TIPS improves productivity by making set up faster and more efficient.

TIPS electronic communication boards can be fitted along the complete length of any New Standard Premium automatic clamping system. A continuously changing electric field allows TIPS to power the ID tag and receive messages. The TIPS DIN controller connects to and receives commands from the press brake IPC and manages the identification and positioning process.

Wila also launched a Webshop platform called the Tool Advisor. The online platform allows an operator to quickly access recommendations about the right tool for the application at hand. By entering parameters such as material type, thickness, angle, length and inside radius, the Tool Advisor also relays information about tonnage requirements to help optimize bending performance.

Entry point

“The U.S. market has been slow to adopt advances in press brake tooling,” notes

Jordan Edwards, marketing and communications officer for Wila USA. “The new Smart Tooling Concept is a great entry point for companies that are not yet ready to make a more substantial investment in the Industry 4.0 process.”

“That is the beauty of the Smart Tooling Concept,” Wensing says. “It will be available for use with any press brake. We will equip each Wila tool with a laser-engraved DM code to facilitate communication.”

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TIPS confirms the correct tool, tool length and positioning for first-time-right production runs.

The Smart Tooling Concept has an app, too, allowing operators and managers to scan tools and synchronize them with their smartphone. By using the app, “customers can experience the advantages of digitalization and data connectivity,” Wensing says. “That means major time savings, error-free tool data entry and simplified stock management.” This makes Wila tooling compliant with Industry 4.0 standards.

Meaningful data collection and analysis is giving smart manufacturers substantial gains in overall yield, product quality and process optimization across the board. While the Smart Tooling Concept may be the first step toward Industry 4.0 for press brake tooling, Wila plans to expand the functionality.

“We’re working on creating two-way communication between the tool, the press brake, the operator and the program planner for more detailed analysis,” notes Wensing. “We’re adopting a step-by-step approach to make tool management truly smart.

“But the nice thing for manufacturers is that it also builds on our product portfolio which supports the Smart Tooling concept from the Tool Advisor to Bluetooth features in the press brake.” FFJ 



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