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Technology to Advance Industry 4.0

"From 3D simulation software to LaserPlus, to RoboTeach, ANCA has been building a tool box of technology for its customers to reap the benefits of automation and Industry 4.0," said a company spokesperson.

Smart Factories

Simulation and 3D modeling tools offer a way for businesses to measure and plan without requiring the use of materials outside the digital environment.

Simulation benefits include:

  • Reduces the learning curve for new operators
  • Provides precise design simulation with a full range of compensation and adjustment options
  • Designing the tool digitally achieves significant reductions in tool waste since there is no need to perfect the tool by grinding numerous versions.

For example, Scripting, a simple programming language created specifically to automate tasks within ANCA application software, can be used to automate most tool design tasks, such as entering parameter values or drawing line/arc elements in 2D editors. It can also be used to create fully-featured custom tool wizards with graphical user interfaces. This means less work for the operator, knowledge retention through capturing design and process intelligence and reduced programming and set-up time.

"In the past, the simulation was in my head-which is true of many manual cutter grinding scenarios," said Alfred Lyon, Cutting Tool Supervisor at AB Tools. "You have an idea of what you want, and after making the tool you hope it is produced to look like what you have pictured. ANCA's simulation software allows us to create the tool with all the given parameters and see what the finished tool will look like. That, combined with being able to program off machine, has revolutionized how we make cutting tools."

Increase Grinding Efficiencies

Tool manufacturers are applying cloud technology-ANCA's Management Suite/Redax-to monitor machines and production in real time, allowing better informed decisions to be made at the time when they will have the most impact ability to remotely schedule, control and monitor networked machines. Factories can access real-time information, providing enhanced visibility and greater control over manufacturing data.

"With the installation of the production and machine monitoring software REDAX, we have expanded the possibilities of data analysis more than ever. We can track the current status and activity of our machines and use the data to plan our production processes," said Tarik Öztürk, Production Manager at Turcar.

Data analytics are already a core component of many tool manufacturers operations. The use of advanced analytics is being applied end-to-end across the production and supply chain activity. This is providing valuable insights into areas including production levels, inventory, available capacity, quality levels and order status to optimize manufacturing processes, predict machine failures before they happen and maximize production uptime.

Easy to Use Robots

Seventy percent of ANCA customers buy machines with robotic functionality, according to ANCA. "Far from a nice-to-have add-on, CNC machines now come with operator panels that provide built-in control over both the grinding software and the robotics function, opening the door to greater automation efficiencies," said the spokesperson.

More recent trends are to include dual robots within a single machine-a market first from ANCA-allowing more complex grinding to be completed with ease and improving overall productivity. The primary robot performs principle automation tasks like changing wheel packs, part loading and pallet management, while the second robot can perform a range of functions such as part washing, metrology, part identification and laser etching to enhance flexibility and productivity.

RFID Technology

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology is used in grinding to increase the flexibility of tool programming, automate the tool loading process and remove the need for operators to program individual loader pallet pockets to a specific tool, enabling businesses to run overnight and weekends lights-out.

Öztürk continued, "There are a lot of advantages of the RoboMate, but the biggest is that instead of a machine standing idle, automation means production can be significantly increased. Process accuracy is another advantage, and the accurate surface finish is why our customers choose to work with us."

Automated in-Process Measurement

With increasingly demanding requirements for precision when it comes to tool manufacturing, the challenge has been to grind tools accurately while still maintaining a high level of productivity and reducing waste. Enter automated measuring solutions that can inspect and measure both in process and offline.

As an example, Zoller measurement technology has been integrated with ANCA software, allowing tools to be ground, measured and validated remotely to ensure they are of the right quality to create top-grade parts. "The results are automatically sent to the ANCA machine to correct any discovered errors, ensuring 100% tool accuracy," said the spokesperson.

"The ability of the Zoller Genius to network directly into the ANCA machine has helped us to be more competitive in the marketplace because we are able to give customers exactly what they are asking for, with diameters down to the millionths and cutting geometries that are plus or minus one degree," said Jordan Armitage, Manufacturing Manager at California Tool and Cutter.

In-process measurements, like ANCA's LaserPlus, allow the measurement of tool geometries to tolerances of two microns or less without removing the tool from the grinder, saving time in the manufacturing process and ensuring maximum accuracy in measurement.

"We have a very strong brand name and we have been making excellent tools since 1996," said Benchmark Carbide owner Paul St. Louis. "But our customers are expecting more from us in terms of tolerances than ever before. Automation plus ANCA's on-machine laser checking system LaserPlus has allowed us to make sure every tool is reproduced to exactly the same specs every time, while operating unattended seven days a week. The better job we do, the more business we can get."

Laser Marking

"For many years, surface marking required screen printing or engraving," said the spokesperson. "These processes were typically invasive, expensive and non-permanent. In its place, laser marking offers the factory of the future a way to mark the surface of goods without the drawbacks of traditional processes. Already it has been adopted in many businesses and recognized as an essential component in the factory of the future."

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