Powerful pallet change module with comprehensive monitoring options
Following the successes of its high-performance pneumatic SCHUNK VERO-S series quick-change pallet systems, SCHUNK has launched a hydraulic clamping module for machines with pallet changer that combines compact dimensions, high pull-down forces, an integrated lifting function, and a complete monitoring function.
With a diameter of 138 mm and a height of just 37 mm in the change pallet, the fully sealed SCHUNK VERO-S NSP 140 has an extremely compact, so that it can be also used for thin change pallets. It has a huge pull-down force of 45,000 N. Together with its solid screw connections (8 x M12), it offers ample potential for demanding machining operations.
In order to ensure maximum process reliability during the automated pallet change, the module comes standard equipped with a pallet system control, clamping slide monitoring for querying the clamping state, as well as a cleaning function for the contact surfaces.
High lifting forces due to hydraulics
In the NSP-S 140 version, the piston stroke is additionally monitored via sensors. 5.5 mm high lifting of the pallet and optional precentering also ensure process-reliable pallet changes in combination with media transfers. The lifting force is 15,000 N per module, the repeat accuracy is less than 0.005 mm.
Clamping rings in flange design (Ø 148 mm, installation depth 23 mm, height as of pallet 14 mm) shorten the alignment process for the pallets, and reduce pallets costs. The module is actuated at a hydraulic pressure of 25 bar.
For the very first time, manual deburring processes can be automated with the robot deburring tool CDB from Schunk, without having to forgo the proven deburring blades. The adjustable-flexibility deburring tool is suitable for robot-assisted deburring of workpieces made of plastic, aluminium, steel, brass, and other materials in a wide variety of geometries.
The CBD can be used for deburring stamped parts, for household and industrial fittings, as well as for plastic or metal components in the automotive or aviation industry. Being able to insert conventional deburring blades that were previously used manually 1:1 into the robot tool makes quick and uncomplicated changeovers from manual to automated operation possible. No change is required to existing know-how when it comes to blades, blade holders and the process.
The flexible robot tool imitates the manual deburring process, all while maintaining consistently high quality. Positional inaccuracies, workpiece tolerances, and tolerances of the robot are axially compensated by up to 8 mm, and radially by up to ±5.5 deg.
Balancing force can be individually controlled (axially 13–66 N, radially 13–62 N). Therefore, the tool ensures process-reliable deburring results and reduces rejects, and at the same time requires minimum programming effort. The uniform tool mounting ensures short set-up times when exchanging blades, meaning that the deburring tool can be used efficiently for manufacturing small series. Compared to manual deburring, robot-assisted deburring offers a vast range of advantages, including that employees no longer need to endure difficult, dangerous, and lengthy deburring tasks. Moreover, a consistently high quality is also ensured. In automated operations, unmanned deburring is possible around the clock.
Here are some of the latest developments in magnetic clamping technology. Article by Schunk.
The clamping status of the SCHUNK MAGNOS square pole plates is displayed on the patented status display (green). The status can also be monitored and transmitted to the machine control system via the SCHUNK KEH plus control unit.
The electrically activated permanent magnetic clamping technology is considered an insider tip when it comes to reducing set-up time and low-deformation clamping of workpieces. With a bit of design finesse, even large-sized components can be clamped deformation-free in a matter of seconds and machined from five sides. Even in the field of standard modules, development is not standing still: Modern magnetic chucks allow visual or automated monitoring of the clamping process.
The secret of deformation-free workpiece clamping by means of a magnet lies, on the one hand, in the movable pole extensions and, on the other, in the optimized interfering contours. Comparable with a waterbed, the movable pole extensions flexibly attach to the workpiece in the case of electrically activated square pole plates and compensate for workpiece unevenness in the first set-up. Ferromagnetic raw parts can be clamped in this way deformation-free and machined in a single operation from five sides.
In the second set-up, workpiece smoothness that cannot be achieved with any mechanical clamping device is possible: plane parallelism of up to 0.02 mm is not uncommon in practice. Unlike conventional set-ups with chuck jaws or clamping claws, punctiform damage and workpiece deformation are avoided. Instead, users benefit from maximum clamping precision and achievable workpiece smoothness. This advantage comes into play especially with large-area steel plates or other deformation-sensitive workpieces.
Clamping over a large surface area minimizes vibrations, and protects the machine spindle as well as the cutting edges. Operation is very simple: the ferromagnetic workpiece is placed on top and the magnetic chuck is activated by a short current pulse. Within a few seconds, the permanent magnet ensures a long-lasting secure hold, without the need of further energy input.
Magnetic Chucks Report the Clamping Status
Figure 3: The SCHUNK MAGNOS force measuring system detects both the position of the workpieces placed on the magnetic chuck, as well as the respective clamping force. The technology study shows what intelligent magnetic clamping solutions will do for industry 4.0 in the future.
On such technology is SCHUNK’s MAGNOS square pole plates, which are now equipped with a patented status display that permanently signals the current clamping state—even if the magnetic chuck has been decoupled from the control system. This leads to zero operating errors and increased process reliability. With this technology, the machine operator always has full control no matter if the magnetic chuck on the machine table has been activated.
Another aspect is that the higher the degree of automation, the more frequently magnetic chucks are now pre-equipped, and stored like pallets in workpiece storages. Using the display, machine operators can now check at any time whether all magnetic chucks in the tool rack are properly activated.
Automated Clamping Procedure
SCHUNK also pursues the idea of simple control and monitoring of the clamping state in the modular control unit SCHUNK KEH plus. Depending on the basic version, one, two, four, or eight square or radial pole plates can be controlled with it—either directly or by using connection boxes via the control unit. The control unit provides information about the current clamping status of the magnetic chucks at any time. A 16-step holding force regulation process facilitates the alignment of the workpieces and allows the clamping of thin components.
In addition, the magnetic chucks can be operated in automated applications via 78-pin PLC connection directly from the machine control system. To ensure process reliability, a detailed monitoring of each magnetic chuck is possible. To do this, the individual clamping state is transmitted via a PLC interface to the higher level plant control. The hand remote control SCHUNK MAGNOS HABE KEH plus, in turn, allows convenient manual control of up to eight magnetic chucks as well as their individual, 16-step holding force regulation. The control continuously provides information to the operator on the individual clamping status of the connected magnet chucks via LCD display and LED. Faults are shown on the display in the form of error codes.
App for Simulating the Clamping
Via an app that SCHUNK will soon provide for iOS and Android, registered users can simulate different clamping situations on SCHUNK MAGNOS square pole or radial pole plates free of charge. For this, only the basic data on the workpiece, the cutting parameters and the type of magnetic chuck have to be entered; the app already determines whether the holding forces are sufficient for machining. With the digital tool, SCHUNK enables a very fast assessment of machining operations. In addition, users can fully use the potential reserves of magnetic clamping technology.
Intelligent Magnetic Chuck with Force Measuring System
Figure 4: Using the SCHUNK MAGNOS HABE-S plus handheld remote control, SCHUNK MAGNOS magnetic chucks are particularly easy to actuate. The current clamping status is automatically displayed. The adhesive force can be set to 16 positions.
The SCHUNK MAGNOS force measuring system takes a significant step towards smart manufacturing. The intelligent magnetic clamping solution automatically records the respective position and size of the workpieces placed on the magnetic chuck, and determines the precise individual clamping force, thus, creating the precondition for continuous process monitoring as well as for automatic adaptation of the machining parameters to the size and quality of the individual workpieces. This means that in the future, the feed rate or the cutting speed can be increased on an individual basis with a large pole cover and high clamping force, or, in the case of low pole covers or low-ferromagnetic workpieces, can be reduced in such a way that process-reliable machining is ensured.
Potential fields of application of the system include the processing of small and medium batches with automated parts handling, as well as machining operations where extensive process monitoring is required. The system paves the way for first-class, highly transparent, and flexible networked processes for Industry 4.0.
Magnetic Gripper for Machine Loading
When it comes to automated loading and unloading of machine tools, the importance of magnetic grippers with electro-permanent magnets has significantly increased. Reasons for this are the high power density and energy efficiency as well as the decidedly favourable interfering contour for handling.
The SCHUNK EGM series is designed for systems with a voltage range of > 400 V. Even the smallest size (26 mm x 98 mm) of the compact SCHUNK EGM-M monopole gripper is suitable for handling parts up to 7 kg. As the magnetic surface reaches right to the outer edge, no interfering contour needs to be taken into account. The SCHUNK Bipol grippers EGM-B, meanwhile, is designed for handling heavy and complex ferromagnetic parts, which are available with either one, two or four pairs of poles in different arrangements.
Under ideal conditions, the EGM has gripping forces between 1.2 and 22.5 kN, depending on equipment, and is designed for maximum part weights up to 147 kg and material thicknesses from 3.5 mm. The compact SCHUNK EMH magnetic gripper is designed for systems on 24 V basis: as the electronics are completely installed in the gripper and it is actuated extremely easily via the digital I/O, the components require neither space in the electrical cabinet nor an external control electronics system. In order to increase process reliability, the gripper reports both the magnetization status and the workpiece presence. At the same time, errors are signalized via an LED display on the housing. Unlike magnetic grippers, no maintenance time between activations is required, meaning high cycle times can be achieved. The SCHUNK EMH magnetic gripper is available in four sizes for workpiece weights of up to 3.5 kg, 9 kg, 35 kg, and 70 kg. For handling thin components and sheets, the magnetic holding force can be adjusted in four stages.
Collaborative scenarios for the production of tomorrow will be commonplace, just like PCs are in the workplace today. In this interview, Markus Glück of SCHUNK GmbH & Co. KG, explains where the current challenges and opportunities lie in this collaborative environment.
Prof. Dr. -Ing Markus Glück
According to automation experts, collaborative scenarios for the production of tomorrow will be given, just like PCs are in the workplace today. Besides collaborative robots (or so-called cobots), gripping tools also play a central role in collaborative applications. In an interview, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Markus Glück, Managing Director for Research and Development, and Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) of SCHUNK GmbH & Co. KG, explains where the current challenges and opportunities lie.
Schunk’s Svh and Co-act Egp-C are now certified for human-robot collaboration (HRC) operations. why is certifying individual components so important, when it is actually the entire automated system as a whole that has to be certified for collaborative operations?
Markus Glück (MG): At our current stage, a large number of users are looking into HRC although only a few applications have been implemented into operational environments thus far. The topic is relatively new for all the parties involved, which includes manufacturers of robots or end-of-arm tools and sensors, users, as well as the DGUV. Our experience shows that the path to certification can sometimes be challenging, especially for the first applications that do not have the benefit of experience. This is exactly what we are dealing with: we are supporting users with the interdisciplinary expertise of our SCHUNK Co-act team as well as minimizing the efforts involved in certifying entire systems with the help of our certified components.
Why is the certification process so complicated?
MG: In order for the DGUV to certify an entire automated system for HRC operations, it is first necessary to ensure that operators cannot be injured if contact is made. This is where the protection principles of DIN EN ISO 10218-1/-2 and DIN EN ISO/TS 15066 and the Machine Directive come into play, which stipulate that any hazards posed to humans and any associated risks must always be considered and assessed. That means it is important to make a very precise assessment of factors such as: what work spaces are present; what risks are involved; and where work spaces have to be restricted in order to prevent injuries. This is only possible when each application is considered on an individual level: each component, task, workpiece and security system. That simply takes time and careful attention.
Are there any safety concerns or fears with regard to grippers used in HRC applications?
MG: So far, we have not come across any great fears among users concerning grippers used in collaborative applications. On the contrary, there is actually a much greater sense of curiosity and enthusiasm—especially when it comes to intelligent systems such as the SCHUNK Co-act JL1 gripper. People see their encounter with the system as playful: they intuitively test out what triggers the safety technologies and how the system behaves. They start to gain confidence, which quickly dispels any fear associated with contact.
TOP INDUSTRY 4.0/AUTOMATION ARTICLES FOR THE MONTH
MG: Many aspects of human-robot collaboration are just as complex as humans themselves. Unlike conventional systems, simply meeting the standards is not enough. Firstly, standards only require that no serious injury or damage can be caused to the machine or the operator. However, that is not enough when it comes to daily use. Imagine if an HRC system were to bump into an operator 100 times a day. Even if this did not violate any standards, the system would have no chance of being accepted. It is much more important to make people, rather than the technical system, the main focus of all the considerations. The worker has to trust the robot. The gripper has to adapt to the human—not the other way around.
Isn’t a gripper like that pushing the limits of complexity?
MG: Complex systems do not have to seem complicated nowadays. Take the smartphone: starting around secondary school at the latest, interacting with embedded technologies comes completely naturally to children: they write messages, surf the internet, watch films, photograph notes on the blackboard, make videos of experiments, make payments, or use their phone as a calculator, timetable or school agenda. They do all of this without thinking about how the device works. They just try out new apps intuitively, especially if their classmates show them first, and then they are practically already part of their standard app collection. This is exactly the scenario that we are pursuing with the SCHUNK Co-act JL1 gripper technology study: despite, or better yet, because of its complexity both inside and out, its use should be as intuitive as possible.
With the help of capacitive sensors, the SCHUNK Co-act JL1 gripper continuously monitors its surroundings. If a human hand approaches, it automatically switches into safe operating mode.
Can you describe the schunk co-act jl1 gripper’s safety aura in a more detailed way?
MG: The sensor technology installed in the SCHUNK Co-act JL1 gripper detects when humans are approaching and facilitates a reaction independent from the situation, without humans and robots coming into contact. It is divided up into three zones: each finger and the housing make up one zone each and can detect when a human is approaching independently of one another. This makes it possible for instance by successively triggering the sensor system in both fingers to determine the direction the human is approaching from and use this information to determine an evasive movement of the robot immediately. Using the freely programmable controls integrated into the gripper, the corresponding reactions can be pre-processed and sent as a signal to the PLC. For example, it receives the command to reduce the speed by 25, 50 or 75 percent, or to stop. A pre-defined evasion strategy is even possible, as long as the direction of approach is clear. Each reaction mechanism can be defined individually and adapted to the corresponding application.
What type of technology is behind all of this?
MG: Technically speaking, we use several systems in parallel: First, there is a capacitive sensor, that is, an electric field built around the gripper. As soon as something containing a lot of water enters this field, it is detected, for example a human hand. This makes it possible to distinguish between the approach of a component or another gripper and the approach of fingers, hands or arms. In contrast to the established options on the market for work space monitoring, which generally cover a wider area, the capacitive sensor system makes it possible to immediately detect objects within a narrow radius of 20 cm, truly getting closest to the human before ever coming into contact. The second level is the force-moment sensor, which is installed in the flange. This registers the emergence of unexpected force effects. It detects an effective collision and stops the robot. In addition, it allows for additional functions to be realized, for example, we can determine whether a glass is full or empty. If and how workpieces are gripped. Finally, the third level is formed by tactile sensors. Comparable with the human sense of touch, these sense individual contact incidences as well as pressure distributed across a large area in a spatially resolved manner. Using intelligent algorithms for pattern recognition, objects can be identified during gripping and the grip can be adjusted reactively. It is also possible to know if the object is being optimally gripped or if it needs to be corrected because, for example, instead of an object, it is gripping a human hand.
Where are we heading? what will grippers be able to do tomorrow?
MG: Specifically, there are two main aspects: assisting humans and alternating their handling of different kinds of components. With the help of specially developed gripping strategies, the delicate SCHUNK Co-act JL1 gripper adjusts its behavior in real time depending on whether it is gripping a workpiece or a human hand. For this, the gripper uses a decentralized control architecture with diagnosis and safety functions carried out in parallel.
In the long run, we believe that grippers, like human hands, will be able to independently manipulate the position and orientation of the gripped components in six degrees of freedom. This can be referred to as in-hand calibration technology. It will enable the realization of extremely flexible, autonomous gripping scenarios.
SCHUNK has launched a compact, mechatronic 24V gripper for small components, allowing flexible processes during a fast-paced pick and place operation. The SCHUNK EGB with IO-link, based on the tried-and-tested SCHUNK EGP, scores with a high speed and high gripping force, satisfies the IO-Link Class B Standard suitable for increased power consumption, and can be directly connected with an IO-Link Class B Master. Its gripper fingers can be freely positioned within every cycle, providing the highest level of flexibility.
Due to the gripper’s pre-positioning, the shortest cycle times can be ensured. As the gripping force can be adapted to the respective workpiece using software settings in four stages, handling scenarios with deformation-sensitive parts can also be achieved. Within the permissible finger length, both the gripping force and the gripping speed remain virtually constant over the entire stroke. The position of the gripper fingers is detectable using the integrated measuring system over the entire stroke, and no external sensors are required for monitoring.
On the other hand, intermediate positions or varying workpiece sizes can be monitored at any time. An integrated diagnosis tool permanently monitors the voltage, current, temperature, and condition of the gripper, and transmits errors automatically to the superior control system. If needs be, systems operators can also store maintenance intervals for the system on the tool. As the entire electronics of the SCHUNK EGP is space-saving in its interior, the gripper doesn’t take up any space at all in the control cabinet. Brushless servomotors and a clearance-free junction roller guide ensure a high level of efficiency, constant gripping forces across the entire finger length and make the SCHUNK EGP with IO-Link a dynamic, precise, and powerful expert for challenging handling of small and mid-sized parts.
Just like its predecessor the pneumatic SCHUNK MPG-plus, SCHUNK EGP takes screws on the side or at the base, increasing its flexibility within a system design. In order to increase the dynamics and the energy efficiency of higher-level systems, the gripper housing consists of a special high-performance aluminium. In addition, the design is rigorous in eliminating superfluous materials. It fulfils protection class IP30 and is suitable for the most various applications in the area of small component handling and assembly. SCHUNK EGP will initially be available in sizes 40, 60, and 64 with a finger stroke of 6/8/10mm, and maximum gripping forces of 140N/210N/300N. The repeat accuracy during the gripping operation amounts to 0.02mm, and during positioning of the gripper fingers, it amounts to 0.1mm to 0.2mm. However, this depends on the fact whether the finger position is reached from one or two directions. The gripper is suitable for handling parts up to 0.7kg/1.05kg/1.25kg. In addition to the version with IO-link, the 24V gripper is again available with actuation via digital I/O.
In this interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN), Vincent Teo, general manager of Schunk, talks about the gripping and clamping 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.
SCHUNK’s VERO-S NSE-A3 138 clamping module is specifically designed for automated machine tool loading as well as for applications in handling, assembly and automation technology. The module is part of the extensive SCHUNK VERO-S modular system, which enables more than 1,000 possible combinations for efficient workpiece clamping.
For reliable workpiece and clamping device changes, the automation component is equipped with a powerful blow-off function, which carefully cleans the bearing surface during the changing process. In addition, a spring-actuated cone seal prevents chips or dirt from penetrating into the interface.
VERO-S NSE-A3 138 features a pull-down force of 8,000N or 28,000N with activated turbo function, as well as a high dimensional stability of the module body, providing rigidity in automated quick-change solutions.
Depending on the application, the modules can be combined in any quantity. Centring inserts with flexible elements ensure positional orientation with a high repeat accuracy and maximum process reliability in automated operations. The repeat accuracy is <0.005mm.
The actual clamping is done without any external energy supply via spring force; it is form-fit and self-retaining, ensuring the workpieces remain safely clamped in the case of a sudden drop in pneumatic pressure. A pneumatic system pressure of 6bar is enough to open the module.
If the modules are used individually, a standard integrated anti-twist protection ensures a stable position in the highest configuration. Through its integrated media transfer, fluids with permissible system pressures of up to 300 bar can be transferred, for example, to control clamping devices using Plug & Work or to supply components for automated monitoring.
As part of the VERO-S modular system, the automation module benefits from a variety of combination options—from standard plates to SCHUNK TANDEM clamping force blocks to mechanical vises from the SCHUNK KONTEC series.
The industrial automation industry is facing a fundamental change and, according to SCHUNK’s chief innovation officer Prof. Dr. med. Markus Glück, human-robot collaboration in manufacturing is certain to grow dramatically in the coming years. This importance of this trend was reflected in the large turnout for the 4th SCHUNK User and Technology Dialogue on ‘Using HRC Safely in Companies.’ The two-day event featured specialists in automotive, robotics, automation and engineering as well as medium-sized industrial companies from Germany and Europe discussing the applications and opportunities of human-robot collaboration (HRC) and experiencing them up close.
Glück is confident that co-acting, meaning unrestricted interaction with robots, is on the verge of a breakthrough. The main driving forces are ergonomic relief, greater flexibility of work processes, increased efficiency as well as the expansion of logistics, loading, handling and retrofitting.
“It’s all about bringing together the strengths of humans and robots,” said Glück. Combining the speed, power, repeat accuracy and high quality of robotics with the human strengths of perception, improvisation, reaction and adaptation, will create synergy toward maximising automation.
Meanwhile, first-time projects require a substantial amount of work that should not be underestimated, according to Glück. “The usual amortisation periods of less than two years will be difficult to achieve at the beginning,” he said. He recommended a systematic approach in which the suitability of the HRC application is first assessed based on specific eligibility criteria, such as the programming cost or the ability to implement operator guidance, the cost of integrating the application into the process chain, options for intuitive training, handling and acknowledgment, moderate cycle requirements as well the employees’ relationship with technology.
He also recommended conducting a business assessment that takes into account the costs of robot procurement, commissioning and integration as well as costs for safety precautions and certification. Conversely, however, the assessment must also consider the savings achieved by lowering personnel costs and increasing productivity. Above all, first-time projects should be thoughtfully approached, carefully planned and implemented with less complexity.
The 4th SCHUNK User and Technology Dialogue featured presentations from SCHUNK product manager Benedikt Janssen, who discussed SCHUNK’s options for cobot peripherals; Jochen Vetter, team leader for robot safety at PILZ, who gave an overview of standards-compliant use of HRC as well as reliable measurement of applied forces; Dr. Alfred Hypki, senior engineer at the Department of Production Systems of the Ruhr University Bochum, who presented a standardised questionnaire, which enables fast, objective and reliable assessment of HRC potential in companies; Sebastian Keller, production specialist for the BMW Group at the Leipzig plant, who explained how HRC is successfully employed in day-to-day production; Jens Kotlarski, managing director of Yuanda Robotics in Hanover, Germany, who gave an impressive presentation on the creative potential and dynamism of start-ups in the field of HRC; and Uwe Schmidt, head of the COBOT World division of HLS Ingenieurbüro GmbH in Augsburg, who demonstrated how HRC scenarios can be implemented in the real world.
Gripping systems and clamping technology provider Schunk is investing around €85 million in expanding its production facilities in Brackenheim-Hausen, Mengen, and St. Georgen in Germany, and in Morrisville, North Carolina, in the United States.
Around 42,000sqm of total production and administration space is being created, starting with the US plant, where the new buildings were officially handed over recently. In addition to the production area expansion, Schunk Intec USA created a 4,000sqm administrative building, which features a Customer Centre, where users can experience Schunk’s components live and receive additional know-how in technology forums and workshops. The new building was inaugurated in early May with an official ceremony followed by a Family Day. Schunk has invested a total of almost €10 million in the expansion of the site.
Meanwhile, €40 million are being put into the Competence Centre for Gripping Systems in Brackenheim-Hausen, Germany. The extension covers an area of 22,000sqm and represents a doubling of the existing production area.
Schunk is investing another €30 million in the Competence Centre for Lathe Chuck Technology and Stationary Clamping Systems in Mengen, in the district of Sigmaringen, Germany. Here, 12,000sqm are to be added for production and R&D.
Around €5 million were invested at the St. Georgen site in Black Forest, where the production area was doubled with an increase of 4,200sqm.
“In the coming years, we will experience a boom in automation and digitisation worldwide, and we’ll only be able to handle this by having the right capacities,” said CEO Henrik A. Schunk.
For several years, the company has been successfully focusing on these two trends and concentrating its resources and know-how. Schunk expects high growth rates, especially for mechatronic and increasingly intelligent clamping devices and gripping systems.
The company also recently announced its cooperation with AnotherBrain, one of the world’s leading specialists in artificial intelligence (AI).
Schunk has extended its modular system for workpiece direct clamping with the release of the manually actuated series VERO-S WDM-5X. Enabling a defined clamping situation, reliable simulation and collision-free, highly efficient machining of five sides by means of basic and add-on modules, the VERO-S WDM-5X clamping modules are actuated without the use of any media and independent of machine peripherals in no time at all via an Allen key.
One single turn of the tightening screw is sufficient for secure connection of clamping modules, either with one another or with the corresponding basic modules. The clamping modules can be used independent of the pneumatic system in external tooling stations, for instance, or in a very wide variety of machines. These can be combined with nearly all types of machine tables by means of flexible fastening systems.
Key elements of the series are basic modules in the heights 75mm, 125mm, 150mm and 175mm, which can be combined using add-on modules at heights of 75mm, 100mm or 125mm. In addition, the series includes a wide variety of different clamping bolts that can be integrated according to the size and shape of the relevant workpiece. Various reduction adapters enable five-sided machining free of interference contours. Freeform surfaces can also be clamped quickly and easily via height adjustment adapters.
Regardless of the height of the clamping pillars, the direct clamping modules are supplied with compressed air via a media transfer unit that is registered for patent, and locked via a force-locking and positive-locking connection with pull down forces of up to 25,000N (with 50Nm actuation moment). An integrated pull-down function ensures maximum hold. The actual workpiece clamping takes place in an energy neutral manner via spring force; it is a self-locking and form-fit clamping. The workpieces remain safely clamped even if the pressure in the air system were to drop suddenly. Presence of a workpiece can also be detected with the VERO-S WDP-5X.