Creston Industrial partners with German tech company on informational website

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Creston Industrial Sales is partnering with CimSource Gmbh to help manufacturers transition to digital tooling solutions via an informational website that explains the problems and solutions associated with the transition to Industry 4.0.

The Grand Rapids-based tooling services provider Creston Industrial Sales said Friday that it is partnering with Aachen, Germany-based CimSource Gmbh to offer a “seamless cloud-based interface for acquiring and managing digital tooling data,” including, most recently, launching an informational website at toolingdata.com that explains the complexities of the journey toward digitization.

The partnership allowed Creston to provide the offerings Tools United and ToolLink, resources that help manufacturers digitize.

The new interactive website has two four-minute videos — the first aims to make a few technically complex problems understandable and approachable for the layperson. The second aims to demonstrate the capability of the two new systems, Tools United and ToolLink, to solve those problems.

Problems and solutions

As manufacturers around the world race to realize the benefits of Industry 4.0, those in the CNC machining field face a barrier: a lack of available, accurate and universally compatible three-dimensional models of the more than 1 million unique cutting tools and components currently in the market, according to Creston Industrial Sales. Without this data, Creston said attempts to digitize machining operations, use the CNC simulation tools and optimize material removal rates become harder to achieve.

The Tools United technology suite addresses many hurdles faced by manufacturers as they begin this technically complex journey, Creston said, with one of the most complicated pieces being the lack of compatibility between the different design standards around the world that preclude commonly used items from being combined into functional digital assemblies for use in manufacturing technology systems.

David Darling Courtesy Creston Industrial Sales

“Every item in a company’s tooling arsenal was designed and manufactured somewhere in the world, by some company,” Creston Industrial Sales President David Darling said. “Depending on where in the world it originated and who the manufacturer of origin was, odds are very good that it was designed and manufactured to a different set of standards, a different set of callouts and a different set of dimensions. Connecting all the dots and getting everything to seamlessly integrate requires a Herculean effort. ToolsUnited and ToolLink solve that.”

Darling said it is common for company leaders to hit a roadblock in completing their digitization journey.

“For most company leaders and owners, the choice to digitize their operation is obvious. The benefits are overwhelming and seemingly straightforward to implement. So, they jump in and start spending massive resources to make it happen. It is typically only once the process has begun that the people involved realize that the foundational element of the whole system, the 3D data of their tools, is not readily available in the marketplace,” he said. “And the data that does exist in the market is not often compatible with other data from other vendors or compatible with the systems downstream that will rely on it.”

One example

A company might have a tool that was manufactured by Sandvik, which uses ISO and ANSI designations, or by GARR, which conforms to industry standards that align with DIN and ISO but have a “secret sauce” that sets them apart. The measurements and standards do not align with one another and are often insufficient for the systems that rely on them, like the CNC programming software, Creston said.

“If you want these downstream systems to recognize all these individual pieces of data — and believe me, you do — every downstream system would need to be able to recognize multiple standards and convert them into a format the system can use,” Darling said. “Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.”

Darling said without Creston’s solution in partnership with CimSource, “a company would need to identify all the redundancies, the overlap and the poor performers in their tooling library so they can create a master tool list.”

“Once that tool list is compiled, there would be the daunting task of understanding the nuanced technical requirements of the systems in which the digital models are to operate,” he said. “It would only be at that point the company would dedicate engineers to spend countless hours emailing, phone calling and pleading with their tooling vendors to compile the information necessary so an upload to a digital environment can begin. It is not uncommon for an organization to be stuck in this phase of implementation for years.”

Tools United and ToolLink are new to North America, but they have been in use by manufacturers in Europe and the Pacific Rim, including Volkswagen and Rolls Royce. In the few months since Creston entered a formal partnership with CimSource, the company said it has already seen success using the platforms in the Midwest.

“For our clients, the digitization nightmares have ended and been replaced with realized dreams of higher productivity, elimination of hard collisions and optimized material removal rates,” Darling said.

ToolsUnited is powered by Standard Open Base, otherwise known as StOB, the technological foundation of CimSource and a data exchange standard for cutting tools.

ToolsUnited and ToolLink are websites from which companies can download digital renderings, but they also encompass a “bulletproof technical standard” that will allow companies to enter Industry 4.0 faster and more cost-efficiently, according to Creston.

More details and the informational videos are at toolingdata.com.

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