Industrial robots have established themselves in the competition for efficient automation solutions for a wide variety of handling and machining tasks. This development has been accelerated by increasing quantities and the associated fall in purchasing costs and by technical progress regarding rigidities and possible loads. Articulated arm bearing supports play a decisive role in the load carrying capacity, dynamics, and precision of robots. Schaeffler offers solutions for each of the six axes with their specific requirements.
INA XSU-series crossed roller bearings: Ideal for narrow design envelopes thanks to their high load carrying capacity and rigidity with a small bearing cross-section
Swivel joint bearing supports for articulated robots
The lower swivel bearing support for axes 1 and 2 of a robot supports the entire weight and the largest tilting moments. What makes things even more difficult is the fact that tilting in the bearing support is multiplied as far as the tool center point (TCP). This is where Schaeffler offers INA ZKLDF double-row axial angular contact ball bearings with very high tilting rigidity, which are well known from the machine tool sector. Their solid bearing rings are screw mounted to the adjacent construction.
Axes 3 and 4 still support a significant proportion of the robot arm’s weight, however, the installation space in the joint is already significantly restricted. This calls for a high load carrying capacity and rigidity with a small bearing cross-section. Schaeffler’s engineers have optimised INA XSU-series crossed roller bearings especially for the increasing requirements in this application. A particularly high filling level with cylindrical rollers ensures increased rigidity.
Double-row bearing supports, particularly those in an O arrangement, offer major potential for bearing supports with very high tilting rigidity due to their very large support distance and small axial design envelope. INA SGL-series angular contact roller bearings also have a very rigid roller contact. Schaeffler recommends a combination of both types, particularly for axes 5 and 6 with small articulated arm diameters. SGL bearings can be very flexibly integrated into the available installation space between the robot’s gearbox and the housing due to their small cross-section and diameter graduations.
The 7th axis – the extended arm
A so-called 7th axis is frequently used to extend the working area of industrial robots or enable them to move greater distances. The robot is moved between individual machine tools or stations and the magazines and palette systems on a table of the linear axis. The INA KUSE six-row monorail guidance system in X-life quality is particularly suitable as a guidance system here. It offers a very high nominal rating life, reduced lubricant requirement, and extremely small stroke pulsation. In a compressive direction, this six-row monorail guidance system has a particularly high load carrying capacity and is therefore ideally suited for combination with direct drives. In order to maximise the availability of the entire production cell with X machine tools, Schaeffler offers DuraSense as an option for its monorail guidance systems. DuraSense’s integrated sensor system enables automated lubrication or monitoring of the lubrication condition of carriages. The risk of unplanned downtimes due to wear and lubrication failure is significantly reduced.
INA linear actuators and driven linear units can be combined from an extensive range to form cartesian systems. INA MTKUSE telescopic actuators are suitable for transport and handling tasks in workpiece and tool magazines, for example.
Cartesian systems: Cost-effective, dynamic, and precise
It is not always necessary to use an expensive robot for handling workpieces and tools. These tasks can be frequently still performed by cartesian axis systems, which are constructed from linear actuators that can be combined. Schaeffler offers an extensive range of INA linear actuators and driven linear units in this field. Linear actuators with special functions expand the range of applications. MTKUSE telescopic actuators, for example, allow a handover in areas behind protective barriers or in separate workspaces.
Interroll (Thailand) Company Limited has moved to a new, state-of-the-art plant in Phantong (Chonburi) in order to seize growth opportunities in Southeast Asia.
Interroll Thailand has completed its relocation to a new location in Phantong (Chonburi) which provides a shop floor of more than 4,800 square meters as well as a 700-square-meter office space in attractive Interroll design.
The construction of the new plant in Thailand is an important part of Interroll’s consistent globalisation strategy. Growth markets in Southeast Asia—especially Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar—show a good demand for Interroll products, with significant potential for the long-term future. Moreover, an increase in the base of installed material handling systems in the region provides additional opportunities for services in the region.
“We are running a state-of-the-art location with improved capacities here,” says Grisorn Nakapong, Managing Director of Interroll Thailand. “The locally manufactured products are Rollers, RollerDrive, Pallet Flow, and Drum Motors service. Our customers can also count on upgraded Drum Motor services, which we provide at this location.”
Increased productivity and shorter delivery times
By the end of 2019, a production line for the Modular Conveyor Platform (MCP) will be added. Moreover, the container loading area has been laid out to support big orders of Pallet Flow for markets in Southeast Asia. The facility also provides an in-house canteen for the employees as well as multipurpose areas for sports and team building activities. Modern office concepts facilitate communication among employees and within project teams.
“By introducing product lines with One Piece Flow and a high degree of automation, we have further raised our productivity significantly,” says Jens Strüwing, Executive Vice President Products & Technology at Interroll. “The new plant enables us to shorten delivery times for our customers in the region by 30 to 50 percent and to produce a much larger range of our solutions in proximity to our Southeast Asian target markets.”
With products becoming increasingly customised and batch sizes growing ever smaller, manufacturers need flexible and automated solutions that are capable of processing small batch sizes. Here’s how Bystronic is helping them. Article by Stephen Las Marias.
Bystronic Group is a leading global provider of high-quality solutions for the sheet metal processing business. The focus lies on the automation of the complete material and data flow of the cutting and bending process chain. Bystronic’s portfolio includes laser cutting systems, press brakes, and associated automation and software solutions. Comprehensive services round off the portfolio.
The company headquarters are located in Niederönz, Switzerland. Additional development and production locations are located in Germany, in Italy, and in China. Bystronic is actively represented by its sales and service subsidiaries in more than 30 countries and has agents in numerous other countries.
In March 2018, Bystronic expanded its existing portfolio of technologies with the acquisition of TTM Laser S.p.A, an Italian company headquartered in Cazzago San Martino, which specialises in the development of 2D and 3D laser systems for the cutting of tubes and profiles and for the welding of large-format metal sheets. TTM Laser’s tube processing technology can be applied to a host of industries, ranging from the need for precision components in steel for makers of furniture and exercise machines, to tubes to help construct the chassis of automobiles and agricultural machinery.
Bystronic completed the integration of TTM Laser into the Group last May 2019. This was marked with the opening of a new Experience Centre and the launch of a new laser cutting system ByTube 130. The 3,200-square-metre Experience Centre includes a modern showroom, in which the newest technologies for tube and profile processing will be presented. TTM Laser’s facility in Cazzago San Martino will now be Competence Centre Tube Processing of the Bystronic Group.
The new ByTube 130 is the optimal solution for sheet metal processing companies that want to expand their portfolio to include tube processing, to capture a wider market including automotive and construction industries right through to furniture, machine, and equipment manufacturers. ByTube 130’s automated system reduces the need for manual interventions to a minimum, making the entry into the field of tube processing particularly easy. At the same time, the machine covers a very wide range of requirements: Since 85 percent of the market potential lies in the small tube segment, the ByTube 130 is geared toward the processing of tubes with diameters between 10mm and 130mm. The machine has a loading capacity of 17 kilograms per meter. The 2D cutting head allows a large proportion of customer requests to be processed, since vertical cuts account for 90 percent of the market.
In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN), Norbert Seo, senior vice president, Market Division Asia & Australia, Member of Group Management, talks about the trends he is seeing in the market, drivers for growth, and how Bystronic is helping customers address their manufacturing challenges. He also provides his insights on the Southeast Asian market, and his outlook for the metalworking industry in the coming year.
What would you say are the key competitive advantages of your company?
Norbert Seo (NS): Bystronic believes on building long-term partnerships with its customers. We believe in commitment and trust, in highest quality, in lifetime support and in local expertise. It’s crucial for our customers that their production never stops. Beside latest technologies and high-end solutions also service is a very important aspect. It is this full package that gives customers peace of mind. And this is what we have in mind when we are offering “Bystronic. Best choice”.
We are supporting our customers where they are today. We are showing them a clear vision, e.g. regarding Smart Factory, and define together with them the next steps for growth, for getting ahead in the competition, for manufacturing metal products smarter and faster than ever before. That’s Bystronic! That’s our commitment to all our customers worldwide.
What are the major drivers of growth for your company?
NS: Bystronic is always innovating, coming up with higher powered laser cutting machines in increasingly larger formats, and coming up with automation systems that helps increase productivity for our customers. As the need for quality cutting and faster turnaround increases, so do the demand for bigger, powerful, more efficient systems.
Please enumerate the top three trends in markets that you are serving, and how do these trends affect your business in terms of product development and/or manufacturing?
NS: For many customers, looking ahead to the future of their own sheet metal processing operations means: being able to adapt to fluctuating order situations; mastering cost and time pressure by applying the most efficient processes and systems available; and, positioning themselves on the competitive global or local markets with leading technologies and manufacturing solutions.
A clear trend in the markets of our customers is that big batches and mass production is getting less and less. Products are getting more customised, and batches are getting smaller and smaller. So, our customers do need solutions to produce small batches in a flexible and automated way. That is a big need, because today they have to do that manually. Therefore, flexible automation will be one of the trends in the future.
Another trend is shorter delivery times. People want their products straightway. Nobody wants to produce for stocks anymore or according to forecast, and this is even more challenging. You have to be fast and you have to be automated. Having said all these points, Bystronic is in the direction where the industry is going. We offer concepts and solutions that are very closely designed to the needs of our customers. We enable customers to fully optimize and automate their operations in multiple shifts, as well as end-to-end solutions that cover cutting, bending, material handling, plus process and data management.
When you talk to your customers, what are the biggest challenges that they usually encounter?
NS: About 80 percent of Bystronic customers in Southeast Asia are job shops, whose focus are on individual machines or automated solutions. What these job shops need is a business reliable technology and service provider that they can easily contact, and who can visit their shops at once. That is why we are focusing on strengthening our local expertise. We are talking with our customers about what is bothering them, what solutions Bystronic can develop for them, and what the next step for their production processes could be.
For job shops, the next step could be a powerful fibre laser with an automated loading and unloading solution to increase productivity. Or a fully automated material and data flow to enable virtually autonomous operation in multiple shifts. Advanced users and large metal processing companies also think in other dimensions. Here, we are talking about end-to-end solutions that cover cutting, bending, material handling, as well as process and data management—so called Smart Factory concepts.
How is your company helping your customers address these challenges issues?
NS: There is a lot of talk about Industry 4.0. However, customers do not fully understand this concept and do not yet have a precise idea of what they can achieve with this. Our answer to their demands is our vision of the smart factory.
The Smart Factory is a journey. Step by step the customer achieves the highest level of productivity; where all processes from the initial order inquiry to the delivery of the metal sheets, and right through to the shipping of the finished parts are automated and digital connected.
Most of our customers in Southeast Asia have small job shops with one laser and press break. We will guide them in this journey. It is a growth path to achieve more profit and competitiveness. We will provide suitable solutions for cutting, bending, automation and software. And we will definitely help them step-by-step on the path towards it.
What opportunities and trends are you seeing for the metalworking industry in ASEAN in the upcoming years?
NS: There is a very good reason why everyone is talking about Industry 4.0. Bigger companies and job shops are taking small but forward steps towards incorporating diverse and flexible automation systems such as loading, unloading, storage, sorting, tool changing, etc., into their manufacturing processes. It is only a matter of time before late adopters follow suit.
What is your outlook for the metalworking industry in the coming year?
NS: In general, we can see that the market is getting tougher and the reason is price issue. Normally our customers and their end-users are asking for very competitive prices. Aside from a viable machine price, the equipment must also be effective. For example, you have one hour to produce 50 parts, therefore our machine must be able to manufacture 60 or 70 parts compared to our rivals. Producing excellent products is always a challenge. For this, Bystronic provides productive machines that offer stability, speed and highest quality on the market.
The global servo motors and drives market was valued at ~ US$ 9 Bn in 2014,and is expected to surpassUS$ 12 Bn by the end of 2019. The servo motors and drives market is expected to grow at a CAGR of ~eight percent between 2019 and 2029, and is estimated to reach a global value of~ US$ 28 Bn by the end of 2029.
A new market study on the servo motors and drives market, which includes the global industry analysis2014–2018and forecast 2019–2029. The report studies the global servo motors and drives market and offers an in-depth analysis for the next ten years. The report on the global servo motors and drives market contains vital macroeconomic and forecast factors that are estimated to drive the growth of the global servo motors and drives market. The report on the servo motors and drives market also discusses restraints that are expected to hamper the global market, along with potential opportunities and latest trends in the market across the value chain.
Servo Motors And Drives Witnessing Lucrative Opportunities In Non-Traditional Application Areas
By application, the robotics segment is likely to hold a significant share across the globe due to the unprecedented developments in the robotics industry and heavy adoption of robotic techniques in various end-use industries. The printing and packaging equipment segment will also show a decent share hold over the market and is set to register a healthy growth over the forecast period. Moreover, in food & beverages industry, servo motors and drives are playing a vital role to make accurate packages of foods or cold drinks. Thus, servo motors and drives application is not limited to the above mentioned industry but also these motors are gaining healthy traction in other industries such as pulp & paper, and textile, among others.
By technology, the servo motors and drives market is segmented into single axis servo systems and multi axis servo systems, among which, the single axis servo systems segment is expected to attract end users and is likely to witness more traction in the servo motors and drives market. The reasonable cost and efficient performance of single axis servo systems is likely to play a pivotal role for the substantial growth in the market of single axis servo systems.
By product type, the global servo motors and drives market is segmented into linear servo motors and rotary servo motors, and both the segments are projected to have near about equal sales with linear servo motors gaining a slight edge in terms of market share. Linear servo motors are manufactured by several manufacturers, which provides customer liberty to choose a product best fit for their purpose. Due to this scenario in the market, linear servo motors have a slightly more sales across the global market. Moreover, linear servo motors and drives are used for repetitive operations such as assembly and arrangement on XY table, CNC machine, etc.
AC Servo Motors & Drives Account for 75 percent of Total Sales
By motor configuration, the global servo motors and drives market is segmented into AC servo motors and DC servo motors and to provide a more specific outlook AC servo motors and drives are further categorised into industrial type and asynchronous type. On the other hand, DC servo motors are categorised into brushless DC motors, separately excited DC motors and permanent magnet DC motor. On the global perspective, AC servo motors are more likely to be preferred in the market due to its ability to operate with the AC current as well as it also pick up frequently light load and heavy load. Almost 3/4th of the market is estimated to be held by the AC servo motors and drives across the globe. Meanwhile, synchronous type AC motors are going to be the top choice of customers among other offerings of servomotors. In the DC servo motors and drives market, all the three sub-segments are expected to attract the target customers in the market.
By rated power capacity, the global servo motors and drives market is segmented into 400 – 750 W, 750 W – 1 kW, 1 – 5 kW, 5 – 15 kW, 15 – 50 kW, and 50 – 100 kW. The demand for these products depend on the requirement of end users. Although, the servo motors and drives 750- 1Kw segment is expected to remain paramount share holder in the market over the forecast period. However, the demand for servo motors and drives entirely depends upon its requirement and applications.
By region, the servo motors and drives market has been segmented into six regions, namely North America, Latin America, Europe, East Asia, South Asia, and Middle East & Africa. In these regions, The Europe market is estimated to grow with a noteworthy share in the global servo motors and drives market over the stipulated time period. However, East Asia & South Asia regions are estimated to grow with significant collective share throughout the forecast period. Moreover, the North America region is expected to account nearly 10 percent share in the global servo motors and drives market owing to the rising awareness of end user towards accuracy and precision, coupled with the factory automation.
The global servo motors and drives market is characterised as a fragmented market, owing to the significant presence of well-established and small-scale manufacturers of servo motors and drives across the globe. For profound analysis, Study has analysed the global market in three categories: Tier-1, Tier-2, and Tier-3. Here, Tier 1 players are estimated to account for large share in the global market. Furthermore, increasing number of full-fledged companies mainly from emerging regions such as in China, are making competitive structure in the global servo motors & drives market.
Moreover, renowned players in the global market are adopting business expansions, acquisitions, collaborations, and product launch strategies, in a bid to promote substantial growth to the servomotors and drives market.
In April 2019, Siemens AG launched an enclosed IEC motor for industrial and construction application, which highlighted the product innovation performance of the company.
In June 2019, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation inaugurated its new office in Boston, U.S. to improve its presence in the market of North America.
Some of the key players identified across the value chain of the global servo motors and drives market includes Siemens AG, Panasonic Corporation, Parker Hannifin Corporation, Nidec Motor Corporation, Delta Electronics, Inc., Fuji Electric Co., Ltd., Hitachi Industrial Equipment Systems Co. Ltd, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Schneider Electric, Rockwell Automation, Inc., ABB, Applied Motion Products, Inc. Altra Industrial Motion Corp., etc.
LVD Company nv has acquired COMPAC S.r.l. of Urbino, Italy, an industrial automation solutions provider. LVD has partnered with COMPAC since 2016 to produce automatic warehouse systems for numerous LVD laser cutting equipment installations in Italy. The acquisition expands LVD’s portfolio of automation systems for flat sheet and tube laser cutting machinery at a time when sheet metal fabricators are increasingly automating their production processes to improve overall efficiency.
A 30-year-old, family-owned business, COMPAC S.r.l. specialises in the design, manufacture and integration of high-tech automatic warehouse systems, input and output handling systems, load and unload devices, and custom automation systems for industry. COMPAC has steadily grown its business and automation products. Its automation solutions are diverse, including handling systems for magazine and cardboard industries and conveyor lines for metal cleaning machines.
With the acquisition, COMPAC becomes part of the LVD Group. LVD will add COMPAC systems for metal fabrication to its automation offerings, broadening the choice of solutions for its punch press, fiber laser and tube laser cutting machines for customers worldwide. The metal fabrication systems will be branded as LVD. COMPAC will retain its brand for automation solutions supplied to other markets. All COMPAC products will continue to be manufactured at its leading-edge 7000m2 production site in Italy.
“COMPAC is an innovative manufacturer with a strong engineering mindset and a proven history of advanced automation solutions,” explained LVD President and Managing Director, Carl Dewulf. “Our acquisition of COMPAC was driven by our interest in securing a strong future for our automation product line, to offer our customers the most advanced and reliable automation technology to keep pace with the advances of fiber laser cutting. With COMPAC as part of the LVD Group, we gain additional automation know-how and systems experience.”
A fiber laser cutting system, a matching automation solution, and innovative software enable companies to increase their productivity while simultaneously saving energy. The Haslach Group, based in the Allgäu region in Germany, shows how this can be done.
Twice the output for the cutting process with the same electricity consumption – fiber lasers are considerably more efficient than CO2 lasers. This saves resources while simultaneously increasing output. And this is why the transition was an obvious step for the Haslach Group: “We want to be able to fulfil our customers’ increasing demand and we have found a reliable partner with Bystronic,” says Managing Director Marita Haslach-Dann.
In order to meet the growing demand while simultaneously saving resources, two ByStar Fiber 4020 fiber laser cutting systems have been in operation in the Haslach Group’s production halls since December 2018. Each equipped with a laser output of six kilowatts, they can cut metal sheets up to a size of four by two meters – ideal for Haslach, a medium-sized company well-known for its ability to process large-format metal sheets.
Wide Range Of Applications
On the outside, the ByStar Fiber 4020 stands out thanks to its attractive design. On the inside, there is patented laser technology: a cutting head developed by Bystronic that precisely adapts the focal point of the laser beam to match the sheet thickness and material. This enables the fiber laser cutting system to consistently achieve the optimal processing quality in spite of varying sheet metal thicknesses and materials.
The ByStar Fiber 4020 cuts up to 30 millimeter thick steel and guarantees clean cutting edges in a wide range of sheet metal qualities. This makes it possible to cut intricate contours in the best possible quality. Complex geometries can also be implemented with ease. Moreover, the range of applications is broader in comparison to CO2 laser cutting machines: The new systems can handle a wide variety of sheet thicknesses and an extensive range of materials, including non-ferrous metals, such as brass and copper. The Haslach Group benefits from this added flexibility, because many of its customers have very specific requirements.
Customised Automation Solution
In order to ensure the rapid loading and unloading of the fast machines, the Haslach Group uses a matching automation solution on both of its fiber laser cutting systems: the ByTrans Cross 4020. “An ideal match,” Marita Haslach-Dann explains. “The automation helps us to work more ergonomically and to increase our throughput. This enables us to produce efficiently.” In spite of the fully automated material supply, operators can manually feed in sheets whenever required.
The inflow and outflow of materials is connected to a high-bay warehouse. The Haslach Group had specified an automated warehouse system, but only one supplier was able to meet their specific demands: “Bystronic rapidly implemented a customised solution for us,” Marita Haslach-Dann says. It was the overall package of cutting systems, automation, software, and service that convinced her.
Software Brings Transparency To Manufacturing
Cutting plans are created using the Bystronic BySoft 7 software, where programmers work in a 3D CAD environment. The 3D models provide a tangible idea of the parts that are to be produced. The BySoft 7 software automatically selects the best possible cutting technology and helps optimise cutting processes. It also ensures optimal use of the raw sheets based on the highly sophisticated nesting of parts.
Thanks to the touch screen, operators always maintain an overview: Production and machine data are retrieved in real time. Operation is so user-friendly that one employee can supervise several machines at the same time. “With the previous systems, we had one operator for every machine,” says Marita Haslach-Dann. The staff have been assigned to new tasks because the high cutting speed of the ByStar Fiber 4020 results in the output of more cut parts that require sorting.
In order to ensure all employees have an overview of the production process, the Haslach Group also relies on planning software from Bystronic, the Plant Manager. The programmer is enthusiastic: “We can always see at what capacity the machines are running,” he explains. “This allows us to flexibly coordinate individual steps of the workflow to accommodate short-term change requests.” Virtually real-time access to all the relevant production and machine data makes it possible to adapt production processes to be able to accept last-minute customer orders.
Programming and planning software has transformed production into a digitally networked manufacturing landscape. Employees can constantly monitor the flow of information and quickly implement plans. “Our path from the incoming order to the end product has become faster and more efficient,” Marita Haslach-Dann explains. The Haslach Group’s head of the cutting department confirms this: “We have successfully increased productivity by 50 to 60 percent when processing thin sheet metal.” The results are impressive: The perfect cutting edges satisfy even the most demanding customers.
In this interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN), Vincent Teo, general manager of Schunk, talks about the challenges that their customers are facing, and how they are helping them address these issues. Article by Stephen Las Marias.
Schunk is one of the leading providers of clamping technology and gripping systems worldwide. Founded in 1945 by Friedrich Schunk as a mechanical workshop, the company has grown to become what it is today under the leadership of his son, Heinz-Dieter Schunk. The company is now under the leadership of siblings Henrik A. Schunk and Kristina I. Schunk, the company founder’s grandchildren.
Schunk has more than 3,500 employees in nine production facilities and 34 subsidiaries as well as distribution partners in more than 50 countries. With more than 11,000 standard components, the company offers the world’s largest range of clamping technology and gripping systems from a single source. In particular, Schunk has 2,550 grippers—the broadest range of standard gripper components on the market—and its portfolio comprises more than 4,000 components.
Based in Singapore, Vincent Teo is the general manager of Schunk, where he is responsible for the Southeast Asia market, including Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam. In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN), Teo talks about the challenges that their customers are facing, and how they are helping them address these issues. He also talks about the trends shaping the clamping and gripping market, and his outlook for the industry.
APMEN: What is your company’s ‘sweet spot’?
Vincent Teo: Schunk understands the needs of manufacturing companies, which have assembly, handling and machining processes. Our products can apply in multiple manufacturing sectors.
APMEN: What sort of challenges are your customers facing?
Teo: Today, businesses face the challenge of getting skilled workers—and staff retention for many industries is becoming a struggle. This is even more severe for countries such as Singapore, which depends on foreign workers. If automation can help reduce these problems and improve work conditions, then more high-value jobs can be created.
APMEN: How is your company helping your customers address their problems?
Teo: We work together closely with our partners such as robot manufacturers and system integrators, and we aim to reach out to more customers to help them see the benefits of automation.
APMEN: What forces do you see driving the industry?
Teo: Collaborative robots, or cobots, have revolutionized many applications that were impossible to think of over a century ago. Less complicated programming equates to less man-hour training, making it cheaper for businesses to adopt robotics. This is game changer, and Schunk is working with the major players in this new era of robotics.
APMEN: What opportunities you are seeing in the Asia market for robotic clamping industry?
Teo: The trend towards automated loading on machining by robots is picking up in recent years. The company is well-positioned to support this growing demand with immediate solutions.
APMEN: What about the challenges in the region? How do you see the trade war between China and the US affecting the manufacturing industry?
Teo: There has been increased investments towards Asia. This is a good problem, where we see customers valuing more our solutions to help them to increase their productivity and capture more businesses.
APMEN: What are the latest developments in robotic clamping/gripping?
Teo: We constantly develop new products in anticipation of the needs of our customers. One example is our latest product, the VERO S NSE3 clamping module, which improves set-up time and has a repeatability accuracy of <0.005mm.
APMEN: How do you position yourself in this industry? What sets you and your solutions apart from the competition?
Teo: Schunk is a unique company, having clamping technology (CT) and gripping systems (GS) solutions. With more than 11,000 standard products, no other company has a comparable scale and size across the range of products. With integrated solutions for both, we provide our customers the best opportunity to automate their processes.
APMEN: What advice would you give your customers when it comes to choosing the correct robot clamping/gripping solution?
Teo: For the machining industry, some customers often invested in clamping solutions and realized later that they need to automate their processes. When they started to review, they will realize that their investments may not be future proof. This may further discourage them towards the automation idea. Our comprehensive CT products allow our customers to later upgrade with our GS products, as both offers seamless integration.
APMEN: The trend is toward smarter factories now, with the advent of Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, etc. Where does Schunk come in in this environment?
Teo: Schunk sees the need to embrace new technologies. iTENDO, our intelligent hydraulic expansion toolholder for real-time process control, records the process directly on the tool, and transmits the data wirelessly to a receiving unit in the machine room for constant evaluation within the closed control loop. With iTENDO—the first intelligent toolholder on the market—Schunk is setting a milestone when it comes to digitalization in the metal cutting industry.
APMEN: What is your outlook for the robotic clamping/gripping industry in the next 12 to 18 months?
Teo: We understands our partners’ and customers’ needs. For gripping, we have come out recently with new products to address the growing demand for collaborative robot (cobots). For clamping, our latest NSE-A3 138 is specifically designed for automated machine loading. It has a pull down force up to 28kN with integrated bluff off function and media transfer units.
More and more metalworking companies are now relying on integrated automation in their production. And the same thing is happening when it comes to sawing technology. Article by KASTO Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG.
More and more metalworking companies are now relying on integrated automation in their production. And the same thing is happening when it comes to sawing technology. The use of industrial robots offers great potential for handling the sawn sections: The mechanical helpers can take on numerous tasks, from picking to deburring, weighing, centring and marking to sorting and stacking. This provides more flexibility and performance in production, better working conditions and significantly lower operating costs.
Across all sectors, the demands placed on metalworking companies are steadily increasing: They must have a high production flexibility from batch size one to large-scale production, process more and more different materials and dimensions—in excellent quality and at the lowest possible cost. Those who want to be permanently successful in the ever tougher international competition must organise all their production processes in a variable and efficient, but also efficient way.
Countless Uses for Robots
Sawing technology plays a key role in metal processing and offers many opportunities for optimisation. More and more operators of sawing systems are intelligently linking their work processes and automating them with robot support. The benefits are obvious: Industrial robots are fast, reliable and precise, and if necessary, they can work 24 hours a day without human intervention. They don’t get tired or fall ill, and they can handle a wide range of tasks when equipped with the necessary tools. “Our robots help us with a number of handling and conveying tasks and efficiently perform many machining steps,” says Volker Bühler, group manager for robotics at the sawing and storage technology specialist KASTO.
Automation starts right with material feeding. The material to be cut is conveyed to the machine by means of suitable equipment, for example roller conveyors or magazines, thus sparing workers the effort of lifting and carrying, and reducing the risk of injuries. Depending on how it is equipped, the sawing machine itself can also run attended. Material is fed to it automatically, and an intelligent machine control system sets all parameters, such as cutting length and cutting speed, based on the job data. State-of-the-art production saws can thus carry out a variety of jobs in sequence, with different materials and diameters, and operate autonomously for long periods.
Removal, Machining, Stacking—Automatic from Start to Finish
Industrial robots also have considerable potential when it comes to handling and processing finished cut parts. For example, they can remove them from the machine, thus relieving workers of this repetitive task. When equipped with appropriate tools, robots can also perform tasks like deburring, chamfering, marking, centring or measuring workpieces. Cut parts can be weighed, sorted by size or job, and stacked on pallets or placed in containers. The parts can also be transferred directly to a driverless transport system. “For complex processes involving various work steps, we also use combinations of different robots and clamping devices,” explains Bühler.
When large quantities of material are sawed with only a few different component geometries, it is relatively easy to automate the downstream processes. The situation is different with custom sawing involving diverse materials and dimensions.
“The greater the variety, the harder it is to cover all the possibilities,” says Bühler. The choice of robot tools is an important factor. A robot must be able to deal with all the objects it encounters while using as few aids as possible. This reduces procurement costs, minimises idle times and increases productivity. Users have a choice of mechanical, magnetic or vacuum-operated grippers. The grippers should be as compact as possible to give the robot easy access to the cut parts.
Sawing Technology on Course to Industry 4.0
With the help of the right components, sawing can be combined with other automated operations to create complex, highly integrated systems that are seamlessly connected in a continuous material flow. This includes upstream storage as well as downstream handling and processing. For example, KASTO implements combined storage and sawing systems for its customers in which all storage, handling, sawing, marking, palletising and bundling processes are completely automated—from storage of the raw material to retrieval of the cut parts. The control software can be linked to existing ERP systems like SAP for greater transparency and efficiency. Sawing can be integrated with other processes like turning or milling in digitised, self-configured production systems such as envisioned in Germany’s Industry 4.0 initiative.
Automated sawing technology offers significant advantages to users. Many processes can run unattended and much faster, which increases productivity and reduces the need for personnel. It is easier to make up the difference when employees are ill, and robots can keep working even during breaks or after shifts. The result is lower personnel costs and greater flexibility in terms of capacity utilisation.
Companies can react more easily to order peaks and dramatically reduce idle times. This can make a big difference economically.
“We’ve calculated that, depending on the shift model, an investment in an industrial robot with a machine like our KASTOvariospeed saw pays for itself in less than a year,” says Bühler. “When you consider that systems like this are used for more than ten years on average, users can reduce their operating costs for a very long time.”
Benefits for Both Users and Customers
Robot technology also helps to improve working conditions. It relieves employees of heavy, tiring and monotonous tasks. The risk of accidents and injuries is reduced. Moreover, the cut parts are of better quality, because robots machine them with equal precision, sort them reliably and stack them neatly. This provides benefits not only for operators of automatic sawing facilities, but also for their customers.
Bystronic presented its innovations for the sheet metal processing industry at its largest in-house exhibition in Niederönz (Switzerland). A perfect opportunity to chat about new approaches in the fields of laser cutting, bending, automation, and software.
Over a period of two weeks, Bystronic welcomed 1200 guests from more than 50 countries to the Competence Days at its Swiss headquarters in Niederönz. The motto for the event was “World Class Manufacturing”. The event provided an answer to the question of what sheet metal processing could look like in the future. Visitors experienced the most important trends and innovations in the fields of laser cutting, bending, automation, and software up close during live demonstrations and guided tours of Bystronic’s Swiss production halls for laser cutting and automation technologies.
For many customers, looking ahead to the future of their own sheet metal processing operations means: Being able to adapt to decreasing batch sizes and fluctuating order situations. Mastering cost and time pressure by applying the most efficient processes and systems available. And positioning themselves on the competitive global or local markets with leading technologies and manufacturing solutions.
Hardware And Software Open Up New Paths
Thanks to new technologies, metal and sheet metal products can now be manufactured more versatile and profitably than ever before. In addition to the suitable hardware, software solutions are playing an increasingly important role in the sheet metal processing sector. In future, it will not be just the machines, but also the correct software that will determine competitive success. Software packages and digital process solutions help customers to make increasingly complex production processes transparent and profitable. This allows the costs, processing times, and quality of production processes to be optimised to achieve previously unattainable levels.
In a conversation that took place during the event, Bystronic CEO Alex Waser said: “Events such as the Competence Days are an important platform for our visitors to exchange ideas with Bystronic. This allows new ideas to be developed and existing visions to be refined. We talk to our guests about what is bothering them, what solutions Bystronic can develop for them, and what the next step for their production processes could be.”
For job shops, for example, the next step could be a powerful fiber laser with an automated loading and unloading solution to increase productivity. Or a fully automated material and data flow to enable virtually autonomous operation in multiple shifts. “Advanced users and large metal processing companies also think in other dimensions. Here we are talking about end-to-end solutions that cover cutting, bending, material handling, as well as process and data management.
In future, in its role as a supplier of integrated solutions, Bystronic will support users with the planning and implementation of such production landscapes,” Alex Waser explained. “With our experts in the Bystronic Solution Center and with a wide range of technologies, we meet our customers at their current level and help them take the next step.”
Seize Opportunities And Invest
The framework conditions of today’s sheet metal processing companies vary around the globe. And yet it became clear that the international visitors to the Competence Days 2019 also had things in common. Users in Europe, America, and Asia are currently facing the challenge of successfully aligning their manufacturing environments to demanding and unpredictable markets.
“Many of our customers face the question: Wait and see how things develop or invest right now,” Alex Waser explained. “We understand the obstacles. But we also see the opportunities for our customers. Companies that invest in new technologies now and that enhance their production processes can rely on powerful equipment when the next upward trend begins.” And that this upward trend will come is guaranteed. This was the wide consensus among the guests at Bystronic’s Competence Days.
Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview withArmin Stolzer, Owner & CEO of KASTO Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG regarding current trends in the metal cutting industry.
APMEN: What trends are shaping the metal cutting industry?
The current favourable situation in widespread parts of the global economy and in the metalworking sector is leading to many companies increasing their production output. However, for the most part, additional capacity is usually necessary to enable the larger number of orders to be processed on time. More and more users are therefore deciding to automate processes, including in the sawing and storage technology sector. This offers considerable potential and, at the same time, the necessary flexibility to be able to respond to changing requirements.
APMEN: How are you helping your customers keep up with these trends?
We help companies to achieve significant improvements in production efficiency while at the same time reducing their costs – two outcomes which in today’s economically challenging climate are in especially great demand. Our sawing machines and storage systems can be easily integrated into a digitalised and automated material flow. We also offer combined sawing and storage systems in which all the storage, handling, sawing, marking, palletising and bundling processes are performed fully automatically with the help of industrial robots – from putting the raw material into store through to the picking of the cut parts. With our customised complete systems, metal-processing companies can fully utilise the potential of their production and logistics facilities.
At the software level we also have innovative solutions that are perfectly adapted to industry needs, for example in the form of our well-designed machine control systems and KASTOlogic Warehouse Management System. With KASTOoptisaw, we have developed a cutting optimisation tool which considers various machine parameters as well as the workload. It generates one or more cutting plans that determine the best item sequences. This results in less waste and as few material movements as possible, saving users both time and money.
APMEN: What are the latest technology developments in KASTO’s metal cutting saws and storage systems?
Just recently, we have launched an innovative solution for maintaining our machines and systems remotely: KASTO VisualAssistance. By means of a tablet, smartphone or smart glasses, users can send live videos to KASTO’s service experts and receive visual assistance and information in real time in the event of a fault or maintenance work. Downtimes can be reduced to a minimum, which has a positive effect on the cost balance.
For our automatic bar stock and sheet metal storage systems, we have developed a concept in which excess kinetic energy can be converted into electric current, stored temporarily and then be used flexibly as required. Consumption of electric power can be reduced by as much as 40 percent compared to conventional drive systems and the connected load can even be cut by more than 50 percent. This reduces operating and investment costs and cuts CO2 emissions.
Also, we have comprehensively re-engineered our KASTOtec automatic bandsaws. In doing so, we have clearly focused on the optimum use of carbide metal saw blades. Further innovations relate to the saw feed, the main drive, and a system for automatically adjusting the feed speed. This all contributes to a further increase in sawing performance.
APMEN: What sets your solutions apart from competition in the region?
KASTO is the market leader for metal sawing machines, semi-automatic and fully automatic storage systems, as well as automated handling equipment for metal bar stock, sheet metals and parts cut to size. Our portfolio includes high-performance sawing machines that not only enable the user to achieve a supreme cutting quality but also the best cost per cut. Our products feature a high degree of automation and therefore offer the best prerequisites for the megatrends Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things. Besides, we are the only supplier of combined sawing and storage systems and have extensive software know-how. Customers therefore benefit from the full range of equipment for the provisioning, production and distribution of material from a single supplier.
Our products and solutions stand out due to their high level of innovation and ideally fit the requirements of our customers. Top-quality workmanship causes the saws and the storage systems to be particularly rugged and durable. Being a family-owned and -managed company, KASTO stands for quality “Made in Germany”. At the same time, we offer comprehensive and personal service, short response times and expert local advice to all our customers everywhere in the world. In 2015, we opened a subsidiary in Singapore to strengthen our position in the Southeast Asian Market.
APMEN: How do you see the metal cutting industry developing in the next year or two?
Connectivity and automation are increasing. Machines, goods, raw materials, load carriers, transport equipment and locations are no longer isolated; they are globally linked and interconnected by means of information networks. Production and logistics are merging, and the integration of processes is increasing. Handling tasks are becoming more and more automated. Digital technology controls the value chain from the producer of raw materials to the final customer. Other important trends include a greater emphasis on safety in materials handling and machine control, which is why we focus in particular on developing effective solutions.
Also, the question of energy efficiency is becoming ever more important. Ultimately, the increased levels of automation mean that users are also taking account of power consumption as a decisive cost factor. The demands placed on machines and systems are therefore not only growing in terms of flexibility, speed and precision, but also at the level of the savings they can bring. To meet these needs, KASTO’s portfolio includes efficient energy recovery and storage methods that allow users to reduce the electricity costs resulting from system operation and, at the same time, to improve the quality of the power supply.