TOOL TRACKING AND DATA COLLECTION ASSEMBLY
1. A method of initially tracking use history of a tool assembly comprising the steps of:
- providing a tool assembly and an assembly for tracking a hit/stroke count for the tool assembly when installed in an industrial machine, the tool assembly comprising a tool, the tracking assembly operably coupled to the tool assembly and comprising a counter;
applying a force relative to the tool assembly, resulting in the tool being used for a machining operation, the force providing a corresponding force on the tracking assembly;
wherein said corresponding force on the tracking assembly results in the counter to increase by single iteration.
Tooling and corresponding tool assembly configurations equipped with exemplary designs of tracking assemblies configured to track information, such as use history, and perform a variety of processing and storage functions relative to the same for more efficient use and maintenance of the tooling over their lifetimes. The tracking assemblies can have retrofit-ready constructions.
- 1. A method of initially tracking use history of a tool assembly comprising the steps of:
providing a tool assembly and an assembly for tracking a hit/stroke count for the tool assembly when installed in an industrial machine, the tool assembly comprising a tool, the tracking assembly operably coupled to the tool assembly and comprising a counter; applying a force relative to the tool assembly, resulting in the tool being used for a machining operation, the force providing a corresponding force on the tracking assembly; wherein said corresponding force on the tracking assembly results in the counter to increase by single iteration.
- View Dependent Claims (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
- 14. A tracking assembly for use with a tool assembly comprising:
a body formed in a shape of a collar, the collar sized so as to wrap about a portion of the tool assembly; and one or more electronic devices operably coupled to the collar, the devices comprising a sensor and a counter that in electrical communication, the sensor triggered from a force applied to the body, with an output from the sensor serving as a trigger for the counter to increase by single iteration.
- View Dependent Claims (15, 16)
- 17. A tracking assembly for use in combination with a tool assembly comprising:
the tool assembly comprises a tool, either a punch or a die; a sleeve body that is wrapped about a portion of the tool assembly; and one or more electronic devices operably coupled to the body, the devices comprising a sensor and a counter that are in electrical communication, the sensor triggered from a force applied to the tool for performance of a machining operation therewith, with corresponding output from the sensor serving as a trigger for the counter to increase by an iteration.
- View Dependent Claims (18, 19, 20)
- 21. A tracking assembly for use in combination with a tool or a tool assembly, the combination comprising:
a body formed in a shape of an elongated tray, the tray sized so as to be embedded within the tool or the tool assembly; and one or more electronic devices operably coupled to the tray, the devices comprising a sensor and a counter that are in electrical communication, the sensor triggered from a force applied to the tool or tool assembly for performance of a machining operation, with corresponding output from the sensor serving as a trigger for the counter to increase by single iteration.
- View Dependent Claims (22, 23, 24, 25)
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62/664,936 filed Apr. 30, 2018. The entire content of this application is incorporated herein by reference.
The present invention generally relates to tools and tool assemblies which can be used in industrial machines. More particularly, the invention relates to assemblies for such tools and tool assemblies, which are configured to hold or track data pertinent to the tools and/or assemblies.
Punch presses are typically configured to hold a plurality of tools for forming a variety of shapes and sizes of indentations and/or holes in sheet workpieces, for example, sheet metal. Tools of this sort commonly include at least one punch assembly and corresponding die. For example, in a multiple station turret punch press, a rotatable turret includes a plurality of bores, which hold a corresponding plurality of punch assemblies above a workpiece support surface, and a corresponding plurality of die receiving frames are located below the workpiece support surface. Alternatively, in other presses (such as Trumpf style presses), a rail (instead of a turret) is used for holding the punch assemblies.
A conventional punch assembly typically includes a punch body or holder and a punch, and can further include a punch guide. The punch may be either fixedly or releasably attached to the holder, while the punch holder and punch are often slidably engaged within a punch guide for reciprocal, axial movement along a central longitudinal axis of the punch guide. When such a punch assembly, and a corresponding die, are mounted in a press and located in a working position of the press, beneath the ram (or integrally connected to the ram), the punch is driven out from the punch guide, through an opening in a stripper plate, in order to form an indentation or a hole through a sheet workpiece with the tip of the punch. The stripper plate, which is attached to an end of the punch guide, prevents the workpiece from following the punch, upon its retraction back into the punch guide.
Press brakes, on the other hand, are commonly equipped with a lower table and an upper table; one of which, often the upper table, is vertically movable toward the other table. Forming tools are mounted to the tables so that when the tables are brought together, a workpiece between the forming tables is bent into an appropriate shape. It is common for the upper table to include a male forming tool having a bottom workpiece-deforming surface (usually V shaped), and for the bottom table to have a correspondingly-shaped die. An upper surface of the die is vertically aligned with the workpiece-deforming surface of the tool so that, when the tool and die are brought together, a workpiece between the two is pressed by the forming tool into the die and thereby bent into a corresponding shape.
It often is necessary to exchange forming tools and dies when a different punching or bending operation is to be performed. For example, in the case of press brakes, the forming tools are designed to be readily removed and exchanged for others. Likewise, it is customary for tools to be moved from machine to machine as is warranted. Consequently, when the tools are used in manufacturing facilities or multi-building facilities, any particular tool, when used and rotated between different machines, can often be difficult to locate, and the search for such tool can be a time-consuming task. Thus, a means to easily locate/track and identify a tool that is used in multiple machines would be of value.
Similar to punch tools used in turret or single station punch machines, a variety of tools can be used with stamping presses, and involve punching holes in, or forming, a piece of sheet metal, often via progressive stamping operations. These stamping applications dictate at least one punch or punch assembly and corresponding die being used. For each operation, a stamping tool is used in acting on the workpiece to perform the desired processing, whereby the tool is releasably held by a retainer or secured to a die shoe (e.g., as part of a die set) of the stamping system.
In many cases, it is desirable to act on a workpiece at multiple locations, e.g., simultaneously, subsequently, or both. For example, it may be desirable to punch a number of different holes at different spots on the workpiece (e.g., a piece of sheet metal). To accomplish this, a number of punches can be secured to one of the upper or lower die shoes at different locations either via a retainer or direct attachment to the die shoe, with dies attached to the opposite die shoe. The die shoe carrying the stamping tools or dies is then moved toward the sheet metal to cause the individual tools carried by the retainers or attached directly to the die shoe to simultaneously act on the sheet metal. As is well known, in some cases, a single retainer (i.e., a multiple position retainer) can be used to hold multiple stamping tools.
Similar to punches and dies used with punch, press brake, and stamping machines in sheet metal processing, tooling is used with compression machines. For tablet fabrication, such tooling is used for compressing medicine, candy, or non-edible items (such as batteries and cleaning agents) into tablets. Particularly, a powder or granule mixture is prepared, a die mold is filled therewith, and then the mixture is compressed to desired shape of the tablet, where after the tablet is ejected. Unlike drug tablets, which are constrained to shapes that can be easily swallowed, candy tablets (being chewable) and non-edible tablets can take various shapes and sizes.
Continuing with the above, tablets are formed by compressing the granules in the die mold with a lower punch and an upper punch, with the tablet being formed via the combined pressing action of the two punches (lower and upper) relative to the die. In such tablet compression machine, the main principle involves compressing of the upper and lower punch in a die hole, whereby the underlying applied force/pressure plays a key role and is transmitted unreduced through static fluid motion. The pressure/force can be generated in a variety of ways, such as via mechanical or hydraulic means. To that end, by increasing the pressure, the compressing force is correspondingly increased, such that the formed tablet is correspondingly hardened. As such, tablet fabrication via compression process can be divided into four distinct stages, namely filling (of the powder or granule in the die mold), metering (of the amount of powder/granule used in the mold), compressing (via upper and lower punches relative to the powder/granule in the die mold to form the tablet), and ejection (of the formed tablet).
Those skilled in the art appreciate that tools used in punch presses, press brakes, stamping presses and compression presses require regular maintenance and modification. To that end, the tools are often configured to be readily removable from the presses so as to allow for such maintenance/modification. For example, with respect to punches, they may need to be sharpened, polished or replaced when becoming worn. Alternatively, the punches may need to be switched out from the press when, depending on the machining operation, a different punch shape (or footprint) is required. In each of these scenarios, if removed from the press, a punch can be difficult to track, not only with respect to its use history, e.g., hit/stroke count, but also its very location.
In particular, information concerning machining or compression tools (punches or dies), e.g., relating to use history, can be quite valuable to the machine operator, particularly in saving time and money (e.g., in being able to plan for maintenance and/or ordering of new punches for effective machining or tableting operations, or simply for locating the whereabouts of a tool needed for a job). Moreover, in the case of tablet manufacture, the traceability of tooling may be required by law or regulation. A variety of presses have been designed to track the individual hit/stroke count of each tool while in the presses; however, there remains a need for configurations in which information relating to the tools can continue to be tracked, particularly after their removal from presses, prior to and subsequent use in the same or other presses.
In certain embodiments of the invention, a method of monitoring use history of a tool assembly is provided. The method comprises the steps of providing a tool assembly and an assembly for tracking a hit or stroke count for the tool assembly when installed in a punching, bending, stamping, or compression press. The tool assembly comprises a tool, either a punch or a die. The tracking assembly is operably coupled to the tool assembly and comprises a counter. Further step of the method includes applying a force relative to the tool assembly, resulting in the tool being used for a machining operation, the force providing a corresponding force on the tracking assembly, wherein said corresponding force on the tracking assembly results in the counter to increase by single iteration.
In other embodiments of the invention, a tracking assembly for use with a tool assembly is provided. The tracking assembly includes a body formed in a shape of a collar. The collar is sized so as to be wrapped about a portion of the tool assembly. The tracking assembly also includes one or more electronic devices operably coupled to the collar. The devices include a sensor and a counter that are in electrical communication. The sensor is triggered from a force applied to the body, with an output from the sensor serving as a trigger for the counter to increase by single iteration.
In further embodiments of the invention, a tracking assembly for use in combination with a tool assembly is provided. The tool assembly comprises a tool, either a punch or a die. The tracking assembly comprises a body and includes one or more electronic devices operably coupled to the body. The devices include a sensor and a counter that are in electrical communication. The sensor is triggered from a force applied to the tool for performance of a machining operation therewith, with corresponding output from the sensor serving as a trigger for the counter to increase by single iteration.
In additional embodiments of the invention, a tracking assembly is provided, for use with one of a tool or a tool assembly. The tracking assembly includes a body formed in a shape of an elongated tray. The tray is sized so as to be embedded within the tool or tool assembly. The tracking assembly also includes one or more electronic devices operably coupled to the tray. The devices include a sensor and a counter that are in electrical communication. The sensor is triggered from a force applied to the tool or tool assembly for performance of a machining operation, with corresponding output from the sensor serving as a trigger for the counter to increase by single iteration.
The following drawings are illustrative of particular embodiments of the present invention and therefore do not limit the scope of the invention. The drawings should not be presumed as being to scale (unless so stated) and are intended for use in conjunction with the explanations in the following detailed description. Embodiments of the present invention will hereinafter be described in conjunction with the appended drawings, wherein like numerals denote like elements.
The following detailed description should be read with reference to the drawings, in which like elements in different drawings are numbered identically. The drawings depict selected embodiments and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention. It will be understood that embodiments shown in the drawings and described below are merely for illustrative purposes, and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention as defined in the claims.
As described above, a conventional punch assembly includes at least a punch body or holder and a punch, wherein the punch can be either fixedly or releasably attached to the punch holder, and wherein the assembly can further include a punch guide. As will be appreciated from the following description, certain embodiments are detailed relative to exemplary designs of tracking assemblies for use with punch assemblies. However, the invention should not be so limited. Particularly, it should be appreciated that the described embodiments are just as applicable to any tooling (e.g., punches, dies, etc.). Moreover, while the embodiments described herein reference/depict punch assemblies generally usable with turret press machines, aspects from such are also applicable to punch assemblies used with other industrial machines (for use in bending, stamping, or compression) as well as to die assemblies therefor. Furthermore, while initial focus is directed to their tracking functionality, in certain embodiments, the assemblies can have other functionality, including one or more of storage, dissemination, and transmission of information relative to their corresponding punch assemblies and/or use thereof.
Continuing with the above, a further object of the tracking assemblies embodied herein is to be applicable with new tooling as well as existing tooling, with the tracking assemblies having retrofit-ready constructions. An underlying object is for the tooling, so equipped with the embodied tracking assemblies, to not be adversely affected during their normal use within their intended presses, or put another way, for the tracking assemblies to not interfere with conventional use of the tooling. Likewise, a further underlying object is for the embodied tracking assemblies to properly function over the lifetimes of the tooling, or put another way, for the tracking assemblies to not be adversely affected by the conventional use of the tooling within their intended machines.
Regardless of the underlying type of industrial machines (such as presses for one or more of forming, punching, stamping, or compressing), the tracking assemblies embodied herein are configured to track a variety of data relative to historical use of the corresponding tooling used therewith, or the tooling'"'"'s “use history.” For example, relative to a punch press and punch assembly used therewith, such “use history” can include the “hit/stroke count,” or more specifically the quantity of times the punch assembly, and punch tip thereof, has been acted upon (e.g., by a ram during machining processes) during its life. Continuing with a punch assembly example, the “use history” can be used to forecast “sharpening life,” or more specifically the quantity of times the punch assembly, and punch therefor, can be acted upon before requiring maintenance (e.g., punch tip sharpening). It should be appreciated that a variety of information can be tracked and delineated to enhance use and lifetime of the tooling. For example, depending on the sophistication of the underlying tracking mechanism used with the assembly, other tracked variables can include particular dates/periods of use of the punch assembly, the differing machines within which the punch assembly is used, the machine applications conducted with the punch assembly, etc. Moreover, the tracking assemblies, in certain embodiments, can be configured to disseminate the data collected from the punch assemblies via processing means (e.g., microprocessor) included with the tracking assemblies.
Moreover, the tracking assemblies embodied herein, in certain embodiments, are equipped with means to transmit the information held by and relating to the corresponding tooling. Such information can be stored within the tracking assembly when manufactured (pre-use) for identification purposes, or can be tracked/collected by the assembly (during use). To that end, the information tracked/collected, in certain embodiments, can be disseminated via the tracking assembly prior to its storage within or transmission from the tooling. Such transmission of the tracking assemblies, in certain embodiments, can be made locally through mesh networks, intranets, direct visualization and local area networks or worldwide via cloud services whether the information is electronic or static, for use by the operator, or manufacturer to obtain valuable data on usage, condition, function, and location.
In the industry, with the growing reliance by manufacturing on technology such as Industry 4.0 and the Internet relative to real-time operations management, automated supply chain replenishment and immediate logistics data have necessitated the continued evolution of technologies such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), mesh networks, and cloud services connected to multiple device types and apps. Particularly, BLE technologies provide significant benefits over traditional tracking technologies such as RFID. To that end, in certain embodiments, devices (e.g., BLE or Blue Tooth) are mounted (permanently or semi-permanently) on or within the tracking assemblies, or the corresponding tooling, so as to continuously record and broadcast data back to a cloud service via Wi-Fi or cellular data. Moreover, in certain embodiments, such information can be compiled for or by regulatory agencies, to determine where a tool was in use, e.g., in event of a safety issue.
With the above objects serving as a backdrop, attention is shifted to exemplary tracking assemblies in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention. There are a variety of differing mechanisms that can be used to track “use history,” depending on the underlying information that is being tracked. At a base line, keeping track of “hit/stroke count” of the punch assembly over its life is but one piece of information that would be invaluable for the machine operator to reference over time. To that end (and as noted above), a difficulty has been keeping track of such “hit/stroke count” when the punch assembly is removed from the press machine, and then is subsequently used in the same machine or others. To that end, initial focus has been on providing a tracking assembly that can be moved with the punch assembly (when removed from the press machine) so as to continue tracking its “hit/stroke count” during future use.
In certain embodiments, as shown, the housing 16 includes (e.g., being affixed thereto at a surface opposite the display 20) coupling mechanisms, e.g., one or more magnets 22, to temporarily retain positioning of the tracking assembly 10 during its use with the punch assembly or for temporary coupling to the punch assembly when removed from the machine. For example, in certain embodiments involving punch assemblies used with a turret press (see
Regarding the tracking assembly 10, there are benefits to its design, in terms of its simplicity. For example, the housing 16 provides a rugged enclosure for the counter 12, protecting it from environmental elements/conditions (oil, dirt, humidity, high vibration, etc.) generally encountered in industrial machines, such as a turret press. Also, there are no electronics involved, keeping the overall cost relatively low, but also minimizing the potential of breakdown or need for maintenance. However, use of such a tracking assembly 10 would involve the machine operator being responsible for accurately positioning the tracking assembly 10 relative to the punch assembly 26. Further, while the tracking assembly 10 being freely positionable/movable with corresponding use/removal of the punch assembly 26 can be seen as advantageous, this also avails the possibility that the assembly 10 is removed (i.e., separated from the punch assembly 26) when the punch assembly 26 is outside of the machine, whereby the tracking assembly 10 could be potentially misplaced in the process. Thus, there is need for alternate designs of tracking assemblies configured to be more readily used with, and/or more permanently tied, to the punch assembly.
Continuing with the tracking assembly 30, the counter display 32 is made visible via an opening 38 defined in the assembly 30, and, via translucent depiction of the display 32, certain exemplary electronics are further illustrated, including a sensor 40 (for use as counter for each down stroke of the punch assembly 26′) and a power source 42 (e.g., lithium button cell battery) for powering the electrical circuit. The sensor 40, in certain embodiments, can involve a potentiometer, the output of which varies based on a connecting segment'"'"'s movement derived from the punch assembly'"'"'s down stroke, and which variance advances the counter display 32. It should be appreciated that the sensor 40 can be any of a variety of alternate designs for advancing the “hit/stroke count” shown on the display 32. Further, the counter display 32 can take the form of any of a variety of differing electronic types; although in certain embodiments, the display 32 is configured with storage memory, such as EEPROM, such that a last “hit/stroke count” can be stored and readily retrieved, even in the event of temporary loss of power.
Regarding the tracking assembly 30, there are benefits to its design. For example, the housing 34 provides a rugged enclosure for the display 32 and its electronics, protecting them from environmental elements/conditions (oil, dirt, humidity, high vibration, etc.) generally encountered in industrial machines, such as a turret press. Also, while there are electronics involved in the design, they are fairly minimal, such that overall cost can still be kept relatively low. In addition (and as already noted), the manner by which the assembly 30 can be secured positions it for ready use in tracking the “hit/stroke count” of the punch assembly 26′ when used in punch machines, even after being removed and reinstalled in same machine or others. To that end, even if the tracking assembly 30 were to be removed from the punch assembly 26′, repositioning it on the assembly 26′ for later use would be a fairly simple process using the strapping mechanism 36. However, the tracking assembly 30, via its housing 34, involves a somewhat large profile for the punch assembly 26′ and perhaps one that, while functional, may be too cumbersome to use. Thus, there would be need for alternate designs of tracking assemblies configured to be more streamlined with the overall punch assembly design, and also more permanently tied to such design. Particularly, considerations were given to shaping of the tracking assembly relative to shape of the tooling used therefor.
For example, in certain embodiments, the components include at least a sensor 60 that is triggered via force applied (e.g., downward punching stroke) on a punch assembly. In certain embodiments, the sensor 60, with each triggering, delivers an output signal. Exemplary sensors include a switch, a potentiometer, an accelerometer, etc. In the case of accelerometers, which are commercially available as single or multiple axis types, the sensor 60 in measuring punching stroke would only need to perform measuring in one axis (vertical). The sensor 60, in certain embodiments, can be in electrical communication (e.g., electrically coupled) with a microcontroller 62 (e.g., Arduino-based open source design) for counting and storing quantity of punching strokes of the punch assembly during its use life. To that end, the microcontroller 62 would be configured with memory for such storage. In certain embodiments, the microcontroller 62 can be configured with various memory forms, such as Flash memory (32 KB), SRAM (2 KB), and EEPROM (1 KB), although these memory types and sizes can be varied as desired.
Given inclusion of the sensor 60 (such as accelerometer) and the microcontroller 62, a power source 64 (e.g., one or more DC batteries) is correspondingly warranted. Such power source 64, in certain embodiments, is electrically coupled to the sensor 60 and microcontroller 62 via wiring within the body 52. When the punch assembly 50 is not in use, e.g., removed from the punch press machine, there would be no need for the tracking assembly 50 to function, much less power the underlying electronics via the power source 64. Accordingly, in certain embodiments, the tracking assembly 50 includes a power switch 66 tied to the power source 64 for interruption of power as warranted.
In using a microcontroller 62 in place of a mechanical counter such as with the tracking assembly 10 of
Continuing with the above, in certain embodiments, the microcontroller 62 can be interfaced with broadcasting mechanisms to further enhance functionality of the tracking assembly 50. For example, the microcontroller 62 may be integrated with a Radio-Frequency Identification Device (RFID) to provide tracking information for the punch assembly 50. Using a RFID reader, the assembly 50 can be easily tracked and located, e.g., on a manufacturing floor or in a warehouse. To that end, the display 62a can provide corresponding message to the machine operator that it is the assembly being interrogated or queried. The RFID tag provided on such tracking assembly 50 can store various other information concerning the punch assembly'"'"'s base parameters, such as punch tip size, shape, part number, clearance guidelines, etc., which can be further assessed upon location of the assembly 50.
Furthermore, in certain embodiments, the microcontroller 62 can be integrated with BlueTooth (BT) or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) interface for communicating with one or more of the machine operator (e.g., via Smart phone or other Bluetooth-configured device), a local network, and/or a cloud service relating to parameters and/or statuses of the punch assembly 26″ and/or the tracking assembly 50. In certain embodiments, the communication from the tracking assembly 50 via the BT or BLE interface to the machine operator can be in the form of text, email, instant message, etc. It should be appreciated that with such outlet for information from the microcontroller 62, the need for a display 62a thereon is reduced, but for a duplicative or fall back means of communication. To that end, the information can be transmitted to any mobile device relative to a corresponding application (programmed/downloaded on the device; hereinafter, “app”), e.g., via BLE interface, and once on the app, the information can be further uploaded to cloud storage, accessible via any web browser. As should be further appreciated, the BT or BLE interface can be used just as well for inquiries from the machine operator, e.g., to locate punch assemblies within a facility that are equipped with tracking assembly 50 and corresponding characteristics of the corresponding punch assemblies.
For example, in certain embodiments, the user can have the tracking assembly 50 be powered (or “woken up”) via the app or by the initial stroke of the corresponding machine that the tool (and corresponding tracking assembly) is used therewith. If user initiated, the app is configured to find the tracking assembly 50 automatically and subsequently connect to it. The user then places the tool in the machine (or the tool may already be in the machine) and begins operation. While the machine is operating, the app is open in the foreground and registering data (e.g., hit count data) once per second by the BLE interface connection (machines punches/strokes are typically faster than once per second, whereby accumulated totals are registered via the tracking assembly 50 and transmitted). The display on the device (and in conjunction with the app) reflects the data as warranted (e.g., hit count since reset and/or total hit count). To that end, these hit count quantities can be reset via the app. In certain embodiments, the tracking assembly 50 can be configured to simultaneously send the data to cloud storage, for the data to then be available (e.g., via custom website) for others to remotely view or recall, as is warranted.
Regarding the tracking assembly 50, there are benefits to its design. Not only is the configuration better aligned for integration with the standard punch assembly design, but with use of the microcontroller 62 used therewith, the functionality of the tracking assembly 50 and the plurality of information obtainable therefrom is enhanced. However, there perhaps would be need for alternate design of a tracking assembly even more streamlined to the profile of the punch assembly, while also providing better protection of its electronics from the environmental elements/conditions encountered in industrial machines. To that end, in certain embodiments as further described, a shielded configuration can be provided for the tracking assembly.
As should be appreciated, the assemblies 70′ and 70″ have functionality and capability similar to that already described above for the tracking assembly 70 of
Concerning the embodied tracking assemblies 50, 70, 70′, 70″, and 90 exemplified herein, the features thereof can take many forms, but are generally provided to enable the size of the assemblies to be minimized. In certain embodiments, the dimensions of the tracking assembly, in certain preferable embodiments, are no greater than 1″ in length, no greater than 1″ in width, and no greater than 0.25″ in thickness. To that end, the power source for the assembly, if a battery, can take the form of a coin cell battery, e.g., CR2025, having a life of at least 6 months. In certain embodiments, corresponding powering circuit of the tracking assembly can be configured to power down the power source automatically when not in use, and triggering power source when motion is sensed, e.g., via punch stroke, as already described herein. Relative to the sensor of the tracking assemblies, if an accelerator, it would be configured for measuring the punching stroke along at least a single axis.
Many of the tracking assemblies embodied to this point have been focused on designs with streamlined profiles. Starting with
As shown, the tracking assembly 110 is provided in a bore 126 that, in certain embodiments, is defined directly in line with the mounting stem of the tool 124. Such direct alignment is not warranted (as will be shown via the further mounting configuration of
Relative to connectivity of the tracking assemblies, it should be appreciated that there are various configurations that could be used, such as cellular, Wi-Fi, and/or Bluetooth (as already noted herein). As described herein, in certain embodiments, an app-based remote connection is used with the tracking assemblies. To that end, information is transmitted from the assemblies to exemplary mobile device, and app of the device can be used for display any of a variety of updates, statuses, and/or alerts relative to the tracked information and/or pertaining to the corresponding tooling (e.g., concerning tool identification info, hit counts, sharpening, reordering, etc.) or the tracking assembly (e.g., concerning the battery status, future warranted programming, etc.). Further, as already described in certain embodiments, the tracking assemblies can be BLE interface linked to a mobile device (near the machine) running an app to record the data from the tool. This app in turn can be used to transfer the data to cloud storage via Wi-Fi, with such storage accessible via any web browser.
Given the description provided to this point, it should be appreciated that the tracking assemblies can be quite diverse in their collection, dissemination, and transmission (for display and/or storage) capabilities, and thus have wide-ranging use, including applications described here and others. To that end, the possibilities for their use are virtually limitless relative to information pertaining to the tooling with which the assemblies are used. Relative to the tracking assemblies having communication capabilities with mobile devices, and app thereof, the app could further be configured with scanning functionality. For example, by simply scanning a bar code on outer surface of the tracking assembly (or corresponding paperwork provided therefor), an upload of all data relating to the corresponding tooling could be transmitted into the app (via the mobile device and corresponding wireless interface, e.g., BLE interface). Such data, in certain embodiments, can be used to identify the corresponding tool and aid in reordering. Another example relative to use of an app with tracking assembly can involve automatic order entry initialization for replacement tooling as the tool nears the end of its service life. To that end, in certain embodiments, the user can be prompted (via the app) to finalize the transaction, e.g., select “Buy Now” button, and all corresponding tooling data and purchase information is sent to user (or other agent) for the order.
Relative to applications for locating particular tooling with tracking assembly, the user (e.g., using mobile device and corresponding app) would be able to find the tool within a facility, or within a multi-building facility. For example, with the tracking assembly being “woken up” (as already described herein), the assembly can be further equipped with a light (e.g., LED) and/or speaker so that they are also triggered to help identify tool when user is close to its location. In using mobile device and corresponding app, the tracking assemblies can also be used with tooling for other machines, such as sharpening machines to track corresponding punches and the extents thereof utilized over time for sharpening processes. Such tracking data, and similar to the type of date tracked relative to punching, bending, stamping, and compression operations, can be analyzed (disseminated) for gauging tool efficiency, while also tracking timing and need for replacement tooling to be ordered (as already described).
With further reference to the flowchart of
Thus, embodiments of a TOOL TRACKING ASSEMBLY are disclosed. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the invention can be practiced with embodiments other than those disclosed. The disclosed embodiments are presented for purposes of illustration and not limitation, and the invention is limited only by the claims that follow.