Modern Machine Shop

NOV 2017

Modern Machine Shop is focused on all aspects of metalworking technology - Providing the new product technologies; process solutions; supplier listings; business management; networking; and event information that companies need to be competitive.

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18 MMS November 2017 mmsonline.com THE Z AXIS Commentary Invisible Innovation EMO 2017 showcased a type of technology that is becoming increasingly difficult to display at trade shows. At the fairgrounds in Hannover, Germany, where EMO is held, the doors to all the exhibit halls have "no photography" symbols: camera icons with a slash through them. These symbols are relics. Because essentially everyone at the show now has a camera in the form of a cellphone, the 130,000 attendees probably brought more than that many cameras. Controlling photography would have been impossible, and as far as I could see, no one tried. Photos were being taken by impressed attendees everywhere, and the symbol on the doors went unacknowledged or unseen. And yet, that very symbol might offer a fitting description of the show this year. Unlike a manu- facturing expo of years past in which visible and photogenic new machine and hardware designs could be expected to headline the show, some of the most significant advances this year related to invisible capabilities—digital capabilities—that would be impossible to capture in a photograph. EMO Hannover, which was held in September, is the largest metalworking trade fair in the world. It is also the most international. Metalworking technology companies from around the world (frequently companies I have never heard of, because they are stronger in their home markets than in the United States) go there to exhibit within the various halls on the expansive Hannover PETER ZELINSKI EDITOR–IN-CHIEF PZELINSKI@MMSONLINE.COM "Physical and digital tools both serve productivity, and frequently the latter offers greater promise." exhibition grounds. Indeed, companies frequently go there to invest in large booths where they can show the range of their offerings or some of the largest of their machines. The result is a sprawling show. With good reason, a shuttle the size of a city bus runs a regular route among this show's 16 exhibit-filled buildings. Still, an example of a company that took a very different approach to exhibiting at the show this year was Fastems. This Finnish company is almost certainly best known for pallet systems. A Fastems pallet system mates with horizontal machining centers, independent of their brand, to turn stand- alone HMCs into stations in a flexible cell. But this year, Fastems had no pallet system on display. The company of fered demonstrations of its Manufacturing Management Sof tware (MMS) instead. This software, which perhaps was devel- oped at first to oversee a pallet system and the machines it serves, now has advanced into version 6 to become potentially the most powerful and valuable of the products the company offers. By managing capacity on various machines in the shop, by tracking machines' resources such as their available tooling, and by optimizing the scheduling of jobs through machines whether they are connected by a pallet system or not, the MMS is a digital asset for unlocking the productiv- ity of physical hardware. It even assists in quoting, because it allows the shop to run potential sched- uling scenarios to see how and in what way exist- ing jobs would be affected if the shop accepted a given job it is considering. Fastems was exhibiting at EMO in a special Industry 4.0 area of the show. I told the company's Rolf Hammerstein I was surprised by this—I know Fastems for pallet changing. He said the aim was to address that very association. The company is

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