Manufacturing system for chucked components
24/06/2014 - Oliver Hagenlocher
Approximately 30 percent of the costs for mechanical engineering solutions nowadays are for IT and automation technology – a percentage that is increasing apace according to a survey the VDMA (Association of German Machine Tool Manufacturers) carried out amongst its members at the beginning of the year 2013. It is apparent that automation technology is gaining rapidly in importance where tailor-made, competitive solutions are called for. What outstanding possibilities can be created with intelligently interlinked manufacturing systems, shows the EMAG Group with a complete manufacturing system for chucked components. Four key operations are carried out quickly, one after the other – with the component costs reducing just as quickly.
For some time automation technology has enjoyed global success – but especially so in the emerging markets. It is here that competition is also increasing, with a qualified workforce still lacking. Furthermore, the companies involved have to be able to react faster and with greater flexibility to technological developments. This all indicates typical conditions for an increase in automated production. However, the development and construction of manufacturing systems, where the individual machines are interlinked by robots, grippers and conveyor belts, is often a complex task, as Dr Achim Feinauer, COO of EMAG Holding GmbH, makes clear: “We have looked at actual concepts. There are some unnecessarily non-homogenous solutions being offered, especially when it comes to the component flow between individual machining operations, making the whole system susceptible to breakdowns and, as a result, difficult to operate.“
Less is more
The objective of the engineers at EMAG in the development of a new manufacturing system was clear right from the outset and can be summarised with one word – “simplification“. The less there is of an often complex automation technology, the more solid and error-free the whole production process. Against this backdrop, the development of the new VL and VT machines comes into its own – they are the key “building blocks“ of a manufacturing system. The machines are sturdy in their construction and even in their stand-alone version can be modified to perfectly suit different applications. This is made possible by their modular concept. Where a number of VL and VT machines are installed side by side, they can be easily interlinked with the help of automation components. This opens up an enormous range of possibilities.
Short travels – short idle times
The technical cornerstone, and a basic condition for the use of automation technology, is the typical EMAG pick-up principle, where the workspindle is used to convey the workpieces to and from the machining area. Between the machines the components are transported by conveyor belts or shuttles located behind the machining area. One of the automation modules removes the workpieces from the conveyor belt and inserts them into the carrier prisms. The interfaces between machines can also be used to insert small buffers or unloading stations. All in all, this compact system offers great process integrity and ensures that the pure automation component of the production line is 15 percent smaller than with other solutions. And there is another, decisive advantage. Travels between those compact VL and VT machines are short. It minimises the throughput times of the component, reducing the unit costs.
EMAG as system supplier
A central role in the development of complex manufacturing systems is played by the trouble-free interaction of the technologies applied. The system also has to be tailor-made to suit the special requirements of the production environment, which is where an all-in solution from a single source offers crucial advantages. “Exactly at this point is where our strength comes to the fore”, explains Dr Feinauer. “We are the system supplier who develops the complete system – from the individual machines, via the automation component, up to and including a seamless link to logistics.” EMAG has standardised automation concepts and the relevant modules available to achieve this. The automation modules were designed at the same time as the new, modular VL and VT machines. The tailor-made design of the system architecture does not only guarantee a production run with a high degree of process integrity, the modular design also serves to adjust the system quickly and with great flexibility to an increase in the number of components to be machined, or to changes in their design. It is possible, for instance, to expand individual operations – within the production line, as it were. Every operation and the extent of automation can be changed as required.
The machines used are all from the new VL platform. Four key operations are carried out in sequence: turning the first side (OP 10) and turning of the second side (OP 20) are done on a VL 2 each, a VLC 200 H then carries out a gear hobbing operation (OP 30) and a VLC 100 D takes care of the final deburring operation (OP 40). The use of two different control systems (Fanuc and Siemens) on the VL and VLC machines in the same manufacturing system shows the possibilities that allow for the combination of such diverse machining operations.
The advantages of VL / VT manufacturing systems:
- Compact, space-saving design
- Tailor-made automation solutions for every application
- Efficient component flow, with short travels and short idle times
- Modular manufacturing concept – expandable and customisable as required
- The whole system is simple to operate, with short resetting and maintenance times
- Wholly integrated development and design from a single source – from machine and process to automation