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Monitor machine tool production with an Android tablet

Published: 30 May 2013 - Rachael Morling

The  SwissNano, which marks a break from the rest of Tornos' range of machine tools in terms of the design and concept,  will incorporate an application that allows machine production to be remotely monitored with a tablet.

Olivier Marchand, chief technology officer, commented:  "The SwissNano can communicate with an Android tablet via a standalone Wi-Fi network, which is created between the machine and the tablet. This application allows information on the machine state, the production status and the plan for the workpiece currently being created on the machine to be brought up and displayed. Furthermore, service and maintenance instructions, alarms and troubleshooting methods are all available in this modern, practical interface."

The application is not limited to one machine – it allows an entire workshop or a bank of particular machines to be monitored. The tablet cannot control the machine and only allows information to be brought up from the numerical control and displayed. Management of machining and the workpiece programs remains the preserve of the numerical control, with the latter staying completely independent. The tablet is not able to influence the activities of the numerical control in any way.

If an alarm occurs, the application does not simply give end users a remote warning that production on your machine has stopped, it searches the service instructions for possible solutions to this alarm, saving time. The machine is equipped with a USB port allowing the tablet to be recharged directly on the machine. It will also be possible to display the machining information on the tablet in slideshow mode, and to use the tablet as the machine's instrument panel.

Security and confidentiality is fully considered with the new tablet set-up. In the standard scenario, the machines and the application are not connected to the internet or to any network. The machine and the tablet create their own networks automatically. The application recognises the machines in the workshop and communicates with them via their own network. With concerns over confidentiality, no information is fed back, either to Tornos or to any server. Some customers who have a workshop network can take advantage of this network when using the application to go beyond the physical limits of the tablet's Wi-Fi, so customers can monitor their machine inventory via the network. The application can then use either its own network or the network already in place.

To take full benefit of this system, an end user requires an Android  4.0 tablet with a 10" screen, for easy reading.

Highlighting the potential for additional platforms, Mr Marchand, continues: "The introduction of additional platforms will depend on the success of this application, but we could expect to see an iPad or Windows version of this application. If a customer wants to utilise this functionality, they can choose the tablet that best meets their requirements. We are continually striving to be the benchmark in technology and this new innovation will undoubtedly be attractive to machine tool users."

Industry Connections: Tornos Technologies UK Ltd

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