SmartTool – Intelligent tools for the connected manufacturing of tomorrow


Tool management deals with all corporate functions and activities that are involved with tools in the context of production. This includes all sub-areas of the tool cycle from tool storage to tool provision to tool disposal. The provision of the right tools at the right time in the right place is crucial for production. For example, late tools at machines can significantly increase the workpiece throughput time. As a result, tooling process costs account for up to one third of manufacturing costs.

An increasing number of variants and shorter product life cycles in machining increase the requirements for tool management, as a high tool variety and frequent tool changes are necessary.

Intelligent tool holder

Objectives and approach

One way to meet the increasing requirements is through Industry 4.0 measures. For this reason, numerous project consortia from industry and science have been researching this topic since September 2013 as part of the BMBF-funded announcement “Intelligent Networking in Production – A Contribution to the Future Project 'Industry 4.0'”. This also includes the project “Intelligent tools for the connected production of tomorrow – Smart Tool”. The aim of this project is to develop a cyber-physical tool that can be perceived by its environment and can record and transmit data. For the realisation of the Track & Trace, the tool individuals are marked uniquely and in a standardised way and identified via integrated readers in the entire tool cycle. In order to obtain information about the current state of the tool, a sensor system was installed in the tool holder. The recorded and evaluated data allow conclusions about the remaining tool life. Through these measures, numerous optimisation potentials can be explored.

Project completion

The project was successfully completed in March 2017. The comprehensive final report is available free of charge at the following link (opens in new tab). If you have any questions, please contact Thomas Grosch (contact on the right).