Traditionally grinding process is treated as something very complex and known only to a few with many years of experience and with specialised skills in the shop floor. A portable diagnostic tool and interpreting the process signal is changing the situation and helping to reduce such challenges faced in grinding.
“It is like using a torch light in a dark ally. Once the light of the signal shines, we can see the path more clearly and easily,” states Dr Subramanian.
“Further analysis of the signals and explaining the variations in terms of the microscopic interactions that occur in the grinding zone, brings the science of grinding to the shop floor,” according to Dr K (Subbu) Subramanian, President, STIMS Institute Inc, USA. He has been mentoring this work at IIT Madras and its subsequent transfer for industrial use. This work at IIT Madras has been carried out as part of a larger project, “Development of Next Generation High Precision Grinding Machine Tool,” funded by the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India. Prof Ramesh Babu is the principal investigator of this project along with his students at IIT Madras. MGTL, an industrial partner in this project is commercializing this mobile diagnostic tool as Grind TrakTM.
In a recent example, a grinding process was the bottleneck operation, limiting the production of the entire line. By looking at the signals obtained and analyzing them, it was determined that the cycle time for this operation can be reduced resulting in a net increase in line throughput of 40%, without the need for any additional investments.
“Next generation of manufacturing will require smart and well qualified people using portable diagnostic tools and techniques very much like the medical field. In this regard, the Grind TrakTM will serve as the stethoscope and thermometer for this new generation of grinding professionals”, asserts Dr Subramanian.