Behind the National First Prize - Stories of LVTC Millennial Winners of the First Prize in the National Finals of the 2019“Siemens Cup” China Intelligent Manufacturing Competition
News from News Center (Text by Shi Yudan from Publicity Department of Party Committee, Photos provided by the Interviewees) “Another national first prize!” – News came on August 27, 2019 and the teachers and students rejoiced: Liuzhou Vocational & Technical College team won the first prize on the “CNC Digital Twins - Virtual Debugging Project” in the national finals of the 2019 “Siemens Cup” China Intelligent Manufacturing Competition. The LVTC team comprises Wei Yingjun, male, a 2018 CNC technology major, and Qin Yunlong, male, a 2018 mold major, who are led by Guan Laide and Chen Shengyu, teachers of School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering.
Recently, the reporter interviewed the team and learned some behind-the-scenes stories to share with our readers.
The training was so tough that I had to refrain from sorry feelings
Chen Shengyu: When formulating the training plan, considering the large workload and thus the difficulty to repeat the training, we demand that the students master the training contents in the shortest possible time, such as the setting of CNC machine parameters.
There are thousands of parameters. We only gave three days for them to remember the scope of the parameters, the effects and the consequences of changes, no delay. Seemingly ruthless, in fact, it bought us more time afterwards for debugging and completing more strenuous tasks.
We were strict with our students to the degree that I felt sorry. For many times, after completing a hard day’s training they had to accept new tasks at night. For instance, they were required to understand the analog signal docking and the macro program of the tool change procedure, to be familiar with the programming principles and the programming instructions, which were not probable to be mastered in a short time. The students often studied until 12 o’clock in the night before returning to the dormitory. I had to refrain from sorry feelings many times. It is not so much that the teacher’s strictness made them as that their self-discipline, diligence and tenacity bring the competing to success!
The biggest challenge of the competition is rather the overall presentation of the players after the completion of debugging, that is, the final session of PPT report and defense. Players shall use PPT to retell how to organize, what is the thinking and rationale, and how to use the “twins” technology to solve specific problems. In order to get a high score in this session, players must learn to sort out the ideas, be good at generalizing and summarizing, which is a true test of players’ verbal expression and logical thinking abilities.
If you want to enter the competition next year, you must be ready to start now.
“Digital Twins Technology” applied in practice
Guan Laide: We choose the “CNC Digital Twins - Virtual Debugging Project” because we have a foundation in this area.
We have a team of 20-30 people, and the competition project is closely related to the research direction of the “Intelligent Manufacturing: Production Line Design and Virtual Debugging Studio” let by me. Second, we already have multiple cases of providing production line debugging services to enterprises to sustain our team, such as the debugging services for the auto parts spot welding production line, arc welding manufacturing unit and other projects of Liuzhou Fushun Auto Body Co., Ltd., Liuzhou Sansong Automation Technology Co., Ltd. and other companies. Another example is Guiyang Fangsheng Trims Co., Ltd.’s C-pillar robot automatic snap-on assembly workstation for the VF11 model: the original debugging operation takes 15 days, and using the digital twins technology it only takes 6 days, saving 40% of debugging time and 50% of labor costs.
“Digital Twins” is a digital way to combine the traditional CAD 2D 3D design of machine tools with the CNC system debugging programming so as to build a interconnect control system covering both the virtual machine model and the real machine tools. Virtual debugging means simulation, testing and optimization in a virtual environment to achieve efficient and rapid commissioning of real machine tools, which is based on the digital machine tool model and the equipment’s design Information, involving both the digital mechanical design and the electrical and automation control.
The first step of debugging is to design a machine tool model according to the user’s needs. This machine tool model is a virtual one, and the parts are not processed yet, but the structural parameters are the same as the real machine tool. The second step is to plan the entire virtual debugging process. It tests the players’ logic thinking on how to use the debugging technology to plan the whole debugging task. The players need to plan the software, hardware, technology, execution, verification, etc. in a full process in accordance with the machine tool’s design requirements. The third step is to build a debugging platform covering both the virtual and real environments, and meanwhile, to write in the machine tool parameters and the processing program, so that the machine tool control unit and the virtual model can realize signal interactions. The fourth step is the debugging phase, and the final step is product delivery. The advantage is that once you have finished the debugging of the virtual machine tool, you can copy the production line to the real machine tools in batches instead of debugging them one by one, and thus save labor and time costs for the enterprise.
The prize winners: It’s a lifelong-benefiting experience
Wei Yingjun: I’m so happy and honored to be picked up by our excellent teachers. This competition has fully sharpened and enhanced our abilities, and the experience gained will surely benefit the rest of our lives. I am fortunate to be a part of the Siemens Cup China Intelligent Manufacturing Competition, which is an unforgettable episode in my university life!
The biggest difficulty in competing is that there is no equipment. Not only no equipment, but also no competition manual. As a freshman that just entered the school, I haven’t touched or learned much. I had no foundation, no ideas, and no methods. I didn’t even know what software MCD is or what functions it has. The difficulty seemed bigger than a mountain. I once wanted to quit.
Without learning materials, I went to the library and I searched all over the internet for videos to grope a way. It took me a whole week to become a beginner ready for simulation learning. After that, I read intensively every piece of information, every diagram and text, and every demo process given by the teachers repeatedly, once, twice, thrice, and countless times, but I still had endless problems. When I asked my teachers, the response is: your solution shall be first going back to independent thinking and then finding out a solution to the problem yourself.
Without a training machine, I can only rely on my memory. And I learned to seek help from Baidu Scholar and experienced netizens in professional QQ groups. I repeated the boring practices over and over again, and finally solved all the problems with tenacity!
Qin Yunlong: Although we won a national first prize, I found that I still have inadequacies in many aspects, such as my poor English. When I came across an all-English software, I could only use my mobile phone to translate the words one by one, which was such a waste of time.
Because we had no competing experience, we only wrote a few pages of word-document materials without detailed compilation and exquisite binding. When we arrived at the competition venue, we found that other people’s proposal descriptions were exquisite and thorough, and the binding was as perfect as a book. So we and our teachers rewrote and printed out a new proposal description overnight to remedy it.
After the results of practical operation came out, we ranked 4th and the next session was PPT summarization and defense. Due to inadequate preparation, our performance in this session was not satisfactory. The most regretful was that we failed to allocate time reasonably in the defense session of the competition, and the PPT display was not synchronized with our oral defense.
The competition not only tests professional skills, but also tests the contestant’s psychological quality. The most important thing at the moment is to draw lessons from the competition and be ready for bigger challenges.
The award is an affirmation of our College’s talent cultivation
“This award not only reflects the strong hands-on ability of the players, but also reflects their strong learning ability. If they go out to work now, they are equivalent to two skilled workers, and they have very broad career development prospect. “, Guan Laide said.
Every project, every instructor, and every player in the National Skills Competition represents a school’s educational level on vocational skills. Excellent schools cultivate excellent teachers and excellent teachers cultivate outstanding students. In our College, a large number of outstanding teachers specialize in their respective posts, work hard and devote themselves to the school’s mission of “making the students the first choice of enterprises”. This award is an affirmation of our College’s talent cultivation. The fact that a young lad without much knowledge who just entered higher vocational school from high school finally harvested the national first prize through hard work and intensive training indicates that, through scientific training, our students CAN master hard power and core skills to grow into talents.
The competition reflects the real demand: High end CNC-related sectors have a talent gap of over four million
It is estimated that by 2021, half of the world’s largest industrial companies will adopt the digital twins technology. In the future intelligent field, the manufacturing workshop needs CNC to enable highly integrated automation with information technology to satisfy the customer’s need of improving market competitiveness and production efficiency and shortening the response time toward clients’ and market’s demands. The birth of digital twins technology is to satisfy this need.
The purpose of this competition is, based on the “digital twins”- a digital control technology applied in intelligent manufacturing, to develop the universal capabilities of digital numerical control engineers in the field of mechanical manufacturing, which will be the requirement of the future market. The College hopes that this awarding will encourage a wave of “everyone participating in the skill competition, and everyone competing to become masters of skills”, will promote an ethos of skill learning in the College, and create a good atmosphere for cultivating more new-type mechanical-electrical comprehensive engineers.
The teachers and students tell the pre- and post-competition stories: The first from right is Chen Shengyu, teacher; the second from right is Guan Laide, teacher; the first from left is Wei Yingjun, student; the second from left is Qin Yunlong, student.