The current state of technology adoption in regards to additive manufacturing was discussed by a group of business and technology leaders at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, The Netherlands in October 2015. By Saswitha de Kok, senior consultant, and Corwin van Heteren, senior manager, PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Pre-process, cut, transport, and sort sheet metal parts according to orders. All this is carried out by the fully automated Production Line. Bystronic is thus presenting a solution for sheet metal processing in the age of automation and digital networking.
The fully automated Production Line revolves around the ByStar Fiber laser cutting system and integrated automation solutions from Bystronic. The digital Shop Floor Control System integrates the Production Line into the existing sheet metal production environment. This guidance system enables users to set up a manufacturing landscape around the Production Line that permits all sheet metal processing steps to be seamlessly integrated.
The Production Line is capable of processing sheet metal parts both in large series and on a small scale. The integrated laser cutting and automation technologies adapt flexibly to changing order situations while also enabling customised expansion with modular options. The idea behind this manufacturing concept is to combine versatility and productivity. Both are important requirements for industrial sheet metal processing.
Bystronic recently showcased a solution that in the near future will enable the Production Line to be expanded to enable the pre-processing cut parts. ByFlex, an additionally integratable system, drills and deburrs holes, and cuts threads, if required even with countersinks, in sheet metal parts prior to the laser cutting process. The integration of this solution, even before the actual laser cutting process, allows users to make optimum use of secondary processing time within the Production Line.
ByTrans Cross And BySort In The 4020 Format
The objective of automation in the field of laser cutting is to make it possible to process not only large series but also small batch sizes, while maintaining the flexibility that users require to always respond to changing order situations. Bystronic offers the ByTrans Cross automation solution and the BySort module in the 4020 format. This provides users with an extremely versatile extension for the ByStar Fiber 4020 laser cutting system. The ByTrans Cross handles the entire loading and unloading process on the shuttle table of the fibre laser cutting system. This enables metal sheets of up to 4m by 2m to be handled.
As an upgrade module for ByTrans Cross, BySort expands the sorting process for finished cut sheet metal parts with a weight of up to 100 kg. What makes this solution so special: BySort enhances the range of functions in the automated unloading process without requiring the user to expand the footprint of the ByTrans Cross.
Due to the extremely fast throughput times of the ByStar Fiber laser cutting system, with an output of up to 10 kW, automated material loading and unloading is virtually a must, explained Product Manager Alain Meyer. Users can only fully exploit the potential of the fibre laser technology if the material flow is perfectly matched to the laser cutting system’s throughput times.
An additional aspect is the reduction of the machine operators’ workload and the associated increase in process reliability. The loading of raw sheets and the removal of residual grids in the 4020 format is difficult to carry out manually. Here, automation ensures safety and simple workflows. Mr Meyer also emphasised another benefit, “Automation enables users to utilise their laser cutting capacities efficiently around the clock with little manpower, even when faced with high order volumes and short delivery times. The increased autonomy thus also makes it possible to work lightly-manned night shifts.”
Flexibility For Varying Order Situations
The modular design of the ByTrans Cross means that the BySort upgrade can be retrofitted as a sorting solution at any time. For this, Bystronic expands the existing ByTrans Cross system with a bridge on which two sorting heads can operate. Both heads automatically equip themselves with a selection of gripper modules. Depending on the sizes and geometries of the sheet metal parts that are to be processed, the user puts together the matching magazine of grippers.
BySort removes finished parts, sorts them by order, and deposits them on various unloading positions next to the laser cutting system. Mr Meyer explained, “Depending on the production environment, BySort can stack finished cut parts on trolleys, pallets, conveyor belts, or even autonomous transport vehicles.”
This diversity in the unloading process supports sheet metal processing companies that are faced with the challenge of adapting to changing batch sizes. It also helps users to automate the production of small batches so that a variety of downstream processes, such as bending, welding, or painting, can be integrated as easily as possible with laser cutting.
For example, when parts are positioned on a pallet with high precision, they can be processed more easily in the bending step, because the robotics used here or the operator no longer have to check them and adjust them to the correct position. “The precision with which BySort stacks the parts translates into accurate gripping and error-free bending in the next processing step,” said Mr Meyer.
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