The needle winding technique, which is flexible in itself, is usually severely limited by complicated programming. A needle winding system with intelligent control is intended to implement the basic ideas of Industry 4.0 in the field of electric motor production. Specifically, these are efforts to achieve high flexibility and automated path and trajectory planning in the winding process. The goal is thus to achieve an end-to-end, digitized product creation process. This will enable close integration of design, production technology and the real product, with the potential to reduce costs and improve product properties.
As part of the funded project "System for highly flexible stator production of traction drives in environment of industry 4.0 (HochflexibleEMProd)", it was possible to realize a corresponding machine at THI, with which the described goal can be pursued. The procurement of the system included a highly flexible needle winding system, an associated wire tension identification unit, as well as other individual components required for operation. The needle winding system and the wire tension identification unit account for the major part of the investment. Due to the volume of the investment, these two contracts were awarded on the basis of two public bidding procedures. The delivery and commissioning of the plant was possible according to the original schedule.
Since commissioning in December 2018, the winding plant has formed the basis for research activities in the field of highly flexible e-machine production at the Institute for Innovative Mobility at the Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt. Project manager Professor Christian Endisch is responsible for the plant.
In the meantime, the plant is being used in several projects as planned. In the project "Optimal trajectory planning and automation of downstream processes for needle winding technology with distributed windings", findings on trajectory planning for needle winding systems had already been generated before the start of the project (based on simulative process models). Programming using the new approach of intelligent trajectory planning was already possible when the plant was commissioned. The newly acquired plant now enables validation and optimization of the elaborated results in practice. Since 12/2018, extensive and very valuable research and development tests are running. The benefit in terms of knowledge gained from the real plant is substantial.
Extensive preliminary tests were also carried out in the project "Optimization of winding head geometry and wire analysis for needle winding technology with distributed windings". These were first carried out virtually with the aid of CAD models. Based on these, 3D-printed prototypes were then produced for winding tools and winding head geometries. Prototypes were already wound on the line during the reporting period. In addition, a fundamental investigation of the wire tension behavior was carried out with manual jigs before the start of the project. The exact determination of the wire tension model, which is essential for controlling the wire tension, is carried out with the wire tension identification unit set up in the FHInvest project.
Initial analyses were also carried out in the reporting period for the application "Learning systems for analyzing production data in e-motor production". The prototypes produced on the unit can now be scientifically analyzed using learning systems. The analysis in turn enables the optimization of product and manufacturing processes.
The objectives in terms of flexibility and usecases have been achieved. The reporting period covers a relatively short period of time. Nevertheless, at this point in time, many results for research have already been achieved, which will be included in future publications. The large-scale equipment purchased through FHInvest will be used intensively over the next few years and will continue to shape research at THI and provide many valuable insights.