Vending machines have long been convenient and low-cost devices for offering a variety of food and drink choices for those on the go or in need of some quick fuel. As with most technologies, the vending machine industry has undergone significant changes over the past few years.
As with most industries, the Internet and digitization are transforming the vending machine market. Smart technology is used for innovations such as touch-enabled high-definition screens, various payment methods and remote device management – all going far beyond simply dispensing soft drinks and granola bars.
Smart technology is also changing how vending machines are manufactured on the shop floor. Evoca Group, the new name of N&W Global Vending, is implementing a corporate information system that is a perfect example of Industry 4.0. Management software, warehousing, logistics, machine tools and operators will all be part of a single large organism – a factory ecosystem that will collect a large amount of data to, in turn, increase production efficiency.
Evoca Group is a global manufacturer of vending machines for the food and beverage industry that focuses on the out-of-home coffee machine sector. The company was founded in 2000, drawing on the experience of Wittemborg, a Danish company founded in 1924, and Necta, an Italian company founded in 1968 and part of the Zanussi Group.
To ease the overall adoption of Industry 4.0, Evoca found an ideal partner in Gasparini Industries, a press brake manufacturer. Gasparini’s software and R&D department has developed the necessary utilities required for the integration of press brakes into the smart factory concept – a concept that Evoca is proud to be fostering.
Creating a smart factory doesn’t happen overnight. It requires time, research and complete buy-in from the front office all the way to the shop floor. To find success, several key people and elements must be in place.
Operators: Unsurprisingly, equipment operators are at the heart of Industry 4.0 adoption. They are responsible for starting and stopping the machining cycle, bending the required parts and communicating any incorrect parts that need to be discarded.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): At Evoca, the ERP system of choice is the JD Edwards management system, which serves as the hub of the overall operation. Its task is to link all of the functions of the company together, including accounting, logistics, personnel management, purchasing, sales and corporate infrastructure.
Material Requirements Planning (MRP): MRP, a function of the ERP system, focuses on the details of planning material requirements and generating internal work orders. In other words, it transforms the indications of the ERP into specific orders related to that particular job: who does what, where, how, when, and with what materials or tools. It also calculates the requirements of materials, planning purchases according to workloads, delivery times of suppliers and inventories.
Manufacturing Execution System (MES): The MES plans the work based on various optimization parameters, such as order of job importance and the availability of operators, materials and machines. The software of choice for the MES at Evoca is Nicim from Sedapta. Nicim is composed of two fundamental parts: a scheduler function and a shop floor control function.
The scheduler handles sequencing of finished products on assembly lines by planners and also handles the automatic programming of the common departments and metal fabrication department. Nicim’s shop floor control oversees digital order routing on all workstations as well as real-time production declarations to the ERP system.
Warehouse Management System (WMS): Evoca uses the Stocksystem from ReplicaSystems for its WMS. Stocksystems’ tasks include accepting raw materials from suppliers, managing the warehouse, and picking up and supplying work centers according to schedule (assembly lines, common departments, fabrication, etc.).
Computer Numerical Control (CNC): As most already know, the CNC is the device that manages the movements, bending forces and compensations of the press brakes. Evoca uses two X-Press Next 80-ton 2000-mm press brakes. The CNC is a Delem DA-66T, which generates the bending sequence according to the profile to be machined and maintains the tool database. The CNC can, with appropriate options, correct the springback and deformations of the structure. In this implementation, the CNC dialogues with the MES for the management of jobs and timing.
Personal computer: To tie everything together, each workstation is equipped with a PC where an MES client resides.
Data and material flow
At Evoca, the entire smart factory approach begins the moment an order is received. Each machining operation (bending, shearing, blanking, etc.) is associated with an order that originates in the ERP system. From there, the MES organizes the various priorities and assigns the job to the most suitable work center. This allows a pallet with the material to be processed to arrive at an operator’s workstation accompanied by the job order with a barcode.
At the same time, the PC receives the order for a certain bending job. The operator reads the barcode of the order through a scanner connected to the PC and through the MES signals the start of the work. The MES generates a file with which it communicates to the press brake CNC the parent product to which that part belongs, the part code and the specific processing step.
The CNC reads the file and automatically loads the corresponding bending program, including information on the material and tools to be used. Bending programs are already loaded on the CNC hard drive, but can also reside in shared network folders. These programs can also be created in the technical office using special offline software. In the meantime, the CNC creates a log file in the network server to signal that the upload has been completed.
The order and the processing step are displayed on the CNC monitor. The operator equips the machine with the required tools, which can be indicated in the note field. Once setup is complete, the operator starts the processing, specifying at the end the number of correct and wrong parts.
At the end of the cycle, the Delem CNC creates a file for the MES where the processed order, the number of total pieces and those parts that must be discarded are reported. The file also includes the time required for setup and processing.
The operator has the possibility to make three different declarations through Delem: printing labels for the management of the finished product and notifying the end of a phase or simply part of the phase, if applicable. The MES records the data and reports all information to the ERP system.
For analytical purposes, the CNC is capable of providing a wide range of data on the use of the machine. The press brakes are equipped with special sensors that allow process drifts to be compensated for in an adaptive manner, as required by the Industry 4.0 guidelines.
Thanks to this information, it is possible to keep the strains to which the machine is subjected under control in order to avoid stress, damage and other faults. Another potential application is to monitor the quality of the material being processed, so that the necessary actions can be taken with the supply chain.
In addition to its press brake operations, Evoca has also integrated its MES and ERP systems into its laser cutting operations with similar procedures depending on the processing differences. Undoubtedly, these two operations are helping Evoca realize its goal of creating a complete Industry 4.0 factory.