Worldwide Recognition of the CNC Machine Tool

It’s been a while since Siemens partnered with SolidVision to help create a machine tool designed for teaching in schools.
The SLV EDU CNC 5axis Siemens was thus able to shine at the global MC Awards and win the first prize.

How did it all start before the prestigious award was awarded? We will ask Ing. Tomáš Kopeček, technical and sales consultant at Siemens, and his colleague Adam Koner, head of technical support at Siemens.

What made you want to work with SolidVision?

Tomáš Kopeček: We first encountered the SLV EDU machine at an event at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, where SolidVision exhibited this machine. We liked the form of the mechanical state of the machine very much, but it was relatively simple to control. When we saw the machine, we said to ourselves that it was indeed a good idea for educational purposes, but from our point of view, it lacks the soul of the machine, which we need to replenish. From our options, Sinumerik is the right and best choice. Sinumerik is an open system that can solve the most complex tasks that are put on a machine tool. We came up with the idea of adding a Sinumerik control to the SolidVision product. Therefore, we contacted our colleagues from SolidVision and gradually began to develop the idea of what it would mean if we equipped the machine with Sinumerik and Siemens drives. It was a lot of work, as we often encountered small spaces for placing components, but in the end we successfully solved everything with the designers from SolidCon. If I take it in a timeline, our first meeting was in February 2019 and already in September 2019 we exhibited a machine equipped with Sinumerik ONE at the trade fair in Brno. At that time, it was a complete novelty on the market of machine tool control systems. I think it was a good job on the part of both Siemens and SolidVision.

What makes the Sinumerik ONE so special?

Can it be seen in person somewhere?
Tomáš Kopeček: The current control system that is most used by our customers is the 840D solution line. However, it should be remembered that this series was created sometime between 2005 and 2006, when customers also started using it. This means that the system is almost 17 years old. It is logical that as technology evolves, so do control systems, so did Siemens, so Siemens had to come up with something new. It builds on the experience of the older version of the 840D solution line, is better in terms of speed and allows for further development of new functions to control machine tools. The novelty was the Sinumerik ONE system, which was first introduced in 2019 and we exhibited it at MSV in Brno on the SLV EDU 5axis Siemens machine. Compared to previous systems, the Sinumerik ONE was first developed in digital form. It wasn’t like before, that a physical prototype was built and tested, supplemented with software, but this time the development took place entirely in the digital world. And it was only when the digital world showed that the form of Sinumerik was what was expected of it, that only then did the physical form of the system begin to be built. The Sinumerik ONE system is available in several versions, from the simplest version 1740 to the medium version 1750 to the most powerful version for high-speed machining 1760. On the SLV EDU machine, we use the Sinumerik ONE with the PPU 1740 version as standard, i.e. a compact design in which the Sinumerik ONE is located directly in the control panel.

The digital twin is a concept that is now being talked about a lot. How did the whole idea of modern teaching come about in connection with this concept?

Adam Koncer: A digital twin can help you on two levels. If you are a machine builder or a university, you can use the digital twin tool from mechanical design to electrical design to programming and commissioning. The idea is that you start preparing the entire machine virtually on the computer in advance, when at the same time the machine is manufactured, delivered, installed and everything that is tested on the computer in peace and safety can then be uploaded to the machine.

The second level is suitable for secondary schools, or for operators, where the student can try out in advance how to control the machine without the risk of damage. In addition, equipping a classroom with virtual machines is much cheaper and easier than physical machines. All you need is a computer to install the software, where you can run a visualization of a specific machine and you can test everything.

Tomáš Kopeček: For example, a school can purchase 16 digital twin licenses, enabling the preparation of technology on a computer. Students can prepare everything here and at the same time see a picture of the machine’s movement. Subsequently, one solution is chosen, which is placed physically on the machine, and students have the opportunity to see in reality what was required by the chosen machining technology on the machine.

And what about financing? Will schools get any help?

Adam Koncer: Yes, of course. I see the optimal approach to the school as the offer of two physical machines and 12 virtual workplaces. For this reason, Siemens and SolidVision are working together to financially support this initiative and deliver products in one package.
Can schools then expect an active approach not only from SolidVision, but also from Siemens?

Tomáš Kopeček: Of course, there is currently a technologist working in our technical department, whose task is to take care of both end customers and schools. Therefore, if a school needs help with the introduction of a digital twin, we are ready to visit the school, show them how to work with it, and be in close contact. In addition, we provide and use teaching materials from our technology and application center in Erlangen, where materials are created for programming and machine commissioning, which are gradually translated into the Czech language and can therefore be used as a means of teaching at secondary schools and universities.

Adam Koncer: Siemens‘ technical support staff is then fully available to schools with the commissioning of a real machine as well as a digital twin.

You have the SLV EDU CNC machine in the Siemens service center in Bradlec, another one is in Brno for technical support and for testing new functions. How much are these machines used?

Adam Koncer: We use machines extremely often and very gladly, because you stand next to a real machine on which you can test; it’s better than some DEMOstand. It goes every week and we are really worried about all taking turns on it. This situation is the same in both Brno and Bradlec, and our colleagues in Vienna have also purchased one machine, where they are testing digitization platforms such as SINUMERIK Edge on it. We try a lot of new applications on the machine. Currently, we have equipped the machine with a camera, which we will use with the help of virtual intelligence, and we will teach the machine to recognize, for example, a poorly placed workpiece and other things, that is, you can really try amazing things. It has therefore become an integral part of our daily work.

So what about the competition mentioned at the beginning? Was it your idea, Mr. Kopeček, to register the machine and how did the SLV EDU CNC machine perform?

Tomáš Kopeček: No, it really wasn’t my idea to enter the machine in this competition. I am a technician by nature, so I was excited to create such a machine, or rather, it excited not only me, but also my colleagues. We spent quite a lot of time to put the machine into the form that is needed for teaching in schools. This work was noticed by our supervisor Ing. Duba, who said: „When you put such work into it on your own initiative and created a relatively good work that is so useful in schools, it would also be good to popularize it in some way.“ So he entered us in the aforementioned global competition, in which an online worldwide vote took place at the end, and we took first place. This, of course, filled us with joy and a sense of fulfillment, it’s great that our work was really worth something.

Finally, what would you like to say or recommend to our readers?

Tomáš Kopeček: Use Siemens products in conjunction with the SLV EDU CNC machine.

Every year, Siemens announces the MC Awards, a global competition that runs in four categories – Growth Award, Innovation Award, People Award and Operational Excellence Award. The jury selects 12 finalists from the entries – three for each category. This is followed by a global online vote. The SLV EDU school training milling machine project with the Sinumerik One control system won first place in the People Award category for 2021.