Open Competition 3 - Information Technology
Intelligent Optimization and Control of Grinding Processes
Develop an intelligent system that uses techniques of soft computing and artificial intelligence to learn, control, monitor, and optimize a variety of complex precision-grinding processes without resorting to trial and error.
Sponsor: TechSolve, Inc.1111 Edison Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45216
Precision grinding is becoming increasingly important to the automotive, aerospace, medical device, and electronics industries. For many components that require smooth surfaces and extremely fine tolerances, grinding is considered the final machining process. To tackle the challenge of making costly precision-grinding processes more efficient, TechSolve (industrial researcher), Delphi Energy and Chassis Systems (end user of grinding technologies), Applied Grinding Technologies (systems consultant), Purdue University (academic researcher), and Landis Gardner (machine tool builder) plan to pool their resources and particular proficiencies. In this joint venture, the companies propose to develop an automated system that uses techniques of artificial intelligence to learn, control, monitor, and optimize a variety of complex precision-grinding processes without resorting to trial and error. Presently, precision grinding is an art and relies heavily on the experience and knowledge of individuals who have been in the business for years. The objective of this three-year project is to produce and validate a "smart" grinding machine that can serve as a highly cost-effective surrogate for scarce human capital. The machine, designed to be modular and portable, will work as a unified system of hardware, sensors, and software that incorporates fuzzy logic, genetic algorithms, and neural networks. Incorporating an assortment of analytical models of grinding processes into a single, well-integrated system has yet to be accomplished and poses a serious technical risk. No single company in this joint venture has the funds or expertise to develop this technology on their own, and the high technical risk is unattractive to private investors and venture capitalists. ATP funding will facilitate the collaborative effort across the value chain that is necessary to achieve the scope of R&D that the project requires. The economic benefits of optimized grinding processes include increased productivity, reduced expenditure on conventional and super-abrasive grinding wheels, lower rates of improperly machined components, scrap reduction, and improved quality. Cost savings to U.S. grinding operations are estimated to be 10 percent, or $1 billion annually. The initial application will be in the automotive industry. However, this intelligent grinding technology has the potential to fortify the competitiveness of U.S. industries specializing in machine tools and manufacturing technologies.