Tool Identification

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As specialists for welding system accessories, AEG SVS Schweisstechnik from Mülheim primarily produces electrode caps, electrode cap tip dressers, and the associated cutting heads. In order to ensure that the correct cutting heads are used for the corresponding welding cap geometry, the company searched for a reliable identification solution. Andres Bäker, along with two students, developed and delivered this solution as part of the final project work of their engineering course, with excellent support from Turck.
  • The yellow read/write head reads the tag in the cutting head during rotation  

  • The integrated compact tag could be well protected in the cutting head

  • RFID-based cutting head monitoring system for electrode cap tip dressers

Challenging cutter identification

AEG SVS Schweisstechnik produces electrode cap tip dressers as well as electrode caps, and around 200 different cutting heads. A dresser fitted with the wrong cutting head can lead to critical faults in the production process.

In 2010, AEG Schweisstechnik in began looking for a method of automating the identification process, as the cutting heads are very difficult to visually identify. The aim was to simultaneously create a test application in order to determine the optimum settings for the cutting parameters for speed, pressure, and the number of cutting strokes required. The company approached the Mönchengladbach College for Technology and Media with these questions. Andres Bäker, who at that time was completing the last stages of his engineering studies, was keen to take on the challenge together with two fellow students as a final course project.

Support from Turck

Supported by Turck, the budding engineers used the BL ident RFID system to develop a solution that detects the cutting head during fitting. A read/write head with an 18 mm diameter is fitted diagonally above the cutting head. It does not prevent the cutting process, but is close enough to the tag to ensure identification in spite of the fast rotation. The engineers have integrated the tag directly into the cutting head.

The read/write head is connected to a BL ident I/O slice module on Turck's BL20 I/O system. The Codesys-programmable BL20 gateway implements the control of the entire application. In addition to identification tasks, the engineers also developed a solution for detecting the speed and rotation direction of the cutting head. For this, they fitted two inductive sensors in the swarf extraction system, which detects two recesses in the cutting head. An appropriate control logic is used to determine the rotation direction and the speed of the cutting head from the switch pulse of the rotating disc. If the incorrect cutting head is fitted, a yellow LED signal is output and the plant is prevented from starting up.

The test plant can display all cutting parameters via the Codesys user interface: speed, pressure, and the number of cutting strokes can be defined individually via the controller in order to test the optimum configuration for cutting on different caps. “The result of the engineering study project is more than satisfactory for us since we can include the RFID solution directly in our product portfolio without almost any additional requirements,” explained Jürgen Rosendahl, product manager at AEG SVS Schweisstechnik. “The engineering study was always of a high technical standard. I also found the collaboration with Turck to be very productive since they took the prospective engineers under their wing and left none of the students' questions unanswered.”

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