The advantage of Industry 4.0 for modern CNC machining supplies

Our Factory ICT – Industry 4.0 System provides continuous monitoring of all CNC machining processes, an essential condition for meeting production plans and delivery deadlines

How Industry 4.0 was implemented for CNC machining supplies within the DICO GROUP

In Italy’s Packaging Valley near Bologna, DICO GROUP is amongst the first to implement an Industry 4.0 ICT system. In fact, precision machining, assembly of complex mechanical systems, and plant engineering are our bread and butter. Thus, the Factory ICT – Industry 4.0 System represents the physical evolution of this.

The heart of our Industry 4.0 system is a software package which connects all levels of the company. Starting out with the factory areas with all CNC machining centres connected to a state-of-the-art MES, right down to the ERP which manages relationships with our customers.

The software provides integrated communication between all machines: 20 machining centres of different types (horizontal, vertical, 5-axis and multitasking lathes), and allows us to constantly monitor which machining centres are active, which are not being used, and which have been temporarily paused by the operator for clamping or checking the workpieces being machined.

Why Industry 4.0 is becoming indispensable

These are just some of the advantages which we obtain through the integration of an Industry 4.0 system, and are becoming an integral part of our contract manufacturing services:

  • Making information available in real-time in the simplest, fastest, and most precise manner possible
  • Ensuring full traceability of each individual operator action, and as a consequence of the machining processes and phases of the components
  • Gathering a huge quantity of data and relevant information, statistical and, above all, technological
  • Laying the foundation for successful technology transfer (to customers) and for change management (internal), supporting a continuous improvement process

Industry 4.0 – The state of the art

At DICO GROUP, we manage hundreds of customer order lines every day: some order lines may concern the supply of simple, low-cost parts, while other order lines which are completely equivalent on the commercial level relate to the supply of entire machines or even complete systems. Generally, the turnaround times range from a few days to many months. Each order line involves the creation of at least one or numerous internal orders and requires several activities: procurement, machining, assembly, wiring, research, and development, testing, fine-tuning, and installation processes. In order to keep track of the progress of all activities and ensure traceability of each and every part throughout the production process, DICO GROUP has equipped itself with a cutting-edge Industry 4.0 ICT system.

In the machine shop, this ICT system allows us to track which machining phase each individual part is undergoing in real time, as reported by the machine tools themselves; during assembly it continuously records each activity performed by the operatives, guaranteeing physical traceability of each component throughout all processes. At the end of the production process, the ICT system allows us to precisely report the actual set-up and tool contact times of the machining processes, as well as those for preparation, assembly, testing, and fine-tuning of the assemblies. DICO GROUP can therefore provide customers with a full and transparent cost breakdown.

The advantages of Industry 4.0 for mechatronics and automation

When talking about automatic machinery, extremely complex machining processes intertwine in all phases of production. Consequently, the ability to monitor and better understand the operation of the supply chain represents a significant and valuable benefit for our customers.

In particular, the production costs control provided by Industry 4.0 offers significant advantages. It is possible to know precisely:

  • The human/machine cost
  • Which production phases are most wasteful in terms of time and require optimisation – experience which is also of great use in the Design to Cost process
  • What makes up the final cost of an individual part
  • The cost of each stage of production

These are all key aspects which provide great support in Lean Manufacturing and Cost Controlling activities.

Being more competitive in the market

The Factory ICT – Industry 4.0 System has been optimised to also manage fragmented and heterogeneous production. This happens with prototypes, single-batch production for special automatic machines, or lots with a low level of repeatability.

In such production, it is clear that gathering statistical data would not help in optimising industrial systems designed for large-scale production, but is nevertheless able to provide a significant amount of essential information. The data gathered allow detailed documentation of all processes and become useful when repeating production with similar characteristics.

Thus, when you entrust your precision machining, assembly, and plant engineering to DICO GROUP, you can count on an Industry 4.0 system that provides significant quantities of data. Overall, a genuinely unique advantage for those who have to compete in today’s market.