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The Next Generation

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Brankamp X7 in use at Peiner Umformtechnik.


Artificial intelligence is the key 

13 years ago, „Deep Blue“ became the first chess computer in the world to beat a grand master. This was possible only because the computer possessed comprehensive expert knowledge. Thousands of stored matches simulated the know-how of a genuine chess grand master. Because of this, the machine was capable of doing what a human could do: calculating moves in advance. And that with ingenious mathematical precision.

Since 1997, the world has undergone one revolution after the other in the area of artificial intelligence (AI): from search engines, language and handwriting recognition to navigation systems. The BRANKAMP group, technological pioneers in the segment of ProcessMonitoring, is now taking the next step. It is adapting the proven AI-concept for use in the production process. The innovative X7 model was developed at Prokos in Hannover, a company of the BRANKAMP group. „A whole range of possibilities now exist with increased computer capacity“, says Hans-Peter Schneider, BRANKAMP Managing Director. This includes, among other concepts, the use of stored expert knowledge in monitoring processes. Thanks to the new X7, over 30 years of production experience is available at the touch of a button. That's enough to checkmate any error.

The new generation of ProcessMonitoring was developed by BRANKAMP especially for the field of massive forming. Ferdinand Oppel, together with Dr. Thomas Terzyk, Managing Director of Prokos GmbH: „The new X7 system possesses highly complex electronics and a great deal of know-how.“ Its operation, by contrast, is revolutionarily simple.

Systems choose their machine monitoring strategy by themselves. Similar to the legendary chess computer, they access stored expert knowledge from thousands of application scenarios and can compare example cases in a fraction of a second. The key is found in the AI software. The operator merely selects the desired forming operation or specifies the parameter stages. The machine's „know-how“ provides the optimum solution profile by itself. How does it work? „Almost like a digital camera“, explains BRANKAMP's director, Schneider. „In order to set it up, you simply select a portrait or a macro image, while the camera selects the lighting and focus settings by itself.“

The X7 database contains the necessary expert knowledge to make finding the correct settings like child's play, even for less-qualified operators. Consequently, the new systems are also the answer to the advanced complexity of modern production systems, particularly in the multistage massive forming processes.

„A tremendous amount of setup time can be saved with the X7. In the long-run, this type of ProcessMonitoring will also prevent damage resulting from faulty data interpretation, despite an emergency stoppage“, stresses Franz Saliger, member of the BRANKAMP management board and director in the area of massive forming. He, too, is excited about the new X7.

Visual artificial intelligence processes today can identify and analyze pictures, forms or signal behavior. ProcessMonitoring systems that, until now, merely detected simple errors are now able to completely diagnose known process disturbances through the X7 technology. The system recognizes corresponding curve shapes thanks to the adaptive pattern recognition process and informs the operator of the specific type, cause and location of the fault. If necessary, the system also triggers Emergency-Stop switching.

If malfunctions occur that are already „known“ to the expert database, the AI automatically identifies the fault based on the measured curve shape. „This functions in a similar manner as with massive forming, even with very complex production processes“, explains the specialist, Saliger. Among other things, this will depend on the division into production stages (from calibration to deburring, in the case of massive forming), from which the system derives and responds to explicit requirements. „Operating effort for the machine operator with new tooling is limited to entry of the stage progression.“ The X7 database optimizes itself in stages, adapting to the company-specific product spectrum.

The pattern recognition software does exactly what its name promises. It recognizes patterns and thinks for itself. Hans-Peter Schneider: „The operator enters the fault parameters at first occurrence, with the description being stored in a user-programmed database.“ If the fault reoccurs, these data records will also be harmonized. If necessary, the software automatically sets up new fault categories. Faults ultimately provide a benefit: Each process disruption leads to an additional learning phase.

The system always saves the calculated settings under a unique tool number. „If the tool is used again, then the system has immediate access to that data,“ asserts Franz Saliger. The innovative BRANKAMP X7 system reduces direct costs in this manner - not only through preventable repairs, but also through shortened setup times.

The new BRANKAMP X7 design is persuasive, as well. The proven 15" touch-screen system is based on feedback obtained from practical experience, the cockpit screen provides direct access to equipment screens, while an integrated RFID receiver accelerates and simplifies operator identification. The system also provides a quicker graphic display and continuous curve storage thanks to new processor technology. The modular equipment configuration encompasses up to 24 channels. Device-internal LED warning lamps arranged as light strips in the system provide a continuous indication of the current operating status. This enables the machine operator to recognize the overall situation at one glance, even at a distance - and even with multiple machine operations.


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