Robotic assistance increases productivity

Robotic assistance increases productivity

The investment in three Halter LoadAssistant robotic systems by German subcontractor Euler Feinmechanik to support DMG Mori lathes has increased productivity, reduced costs and enhanced competitiveness. PES reports.

German subcontractor Euler Finmeccanneck, based in Schofingrund, north of Frankfurt, has invested in three robotic machine care systems from Dutch automation specialist Halter to automate loading and unloading on a range of DMG Mori lathes. The Halter series of LoadAssistant robotic machine tensioning equipment is available in the UK through the First Machine Tool Attachments in Salisbury.

Established over 60 years ago and employing approximately 75 employees, the Euler Feinmechanik machinery complex has been rotated and milled such as optical bearing mounts, camera lens components, rifle scopes for hunting and military, medical and aerospace parts, buildings and stationary parts for vacuum pumps. The materials that are manufactured are mainly aluminum, copper, stainless steel and various plastics including PEEK, acetal and PTFE.

Managing Director Leonhard Euler comments: “Our production operations include milling, but are primarily focused on CNC prototyping, pre-production batches, and chain parts.

“We develop product-specific manufacturing strategies for our customers, for example Airbus, Leica and Zeiss, and support them from the development and production stages to surface finishing and assembly. Automation and robotics are important aspects of our continuous improvement. We are constantly thinking about whether we can improve individual processes so that they interact more effectively. smoother.”

mill automation

In 2016, Euler Feinmechanik purchased a new CTX beta 800 4A CNC mill center from DMG Mori to produce particularly complex components for vacuum equipment. The company knew at the time that it wanted to automate the machine, but first had to create a reliable process for producing workpieces of the high quality required.

This was the responsibility of Marco Connell, Chief Technician and Transformation Management Team Leader.

He says, “In light of the increasing order quantities for components, we purchased our first loading robot in 2017. It allowed us to increase productivity from our new DMG Mori lathe while controlling labor costs.”

Several brands of machine care equipment were considered, as Mr. Euler was keen to find the best solution and make a suitable choice for the future that the subcontractor could unite.

He explains, “DMG Mori itself has also been in the running, just introducing its own Robo2Go robot. It seems to us that this is the most logical combination and it is indeed a great product, but it can only be programmed when the lathe is not working.”

“However, Halter is an expert in this field and had not only a good automation solution, but also great references and a hands-on demonstration that showed exactly what we wanted. In the end, we chose one of the Universal Premium 20 cells.”

CTX beta 800 4A manufacturing area, showing the FANUC LoadAssistant robot deploying dual clutches for loading and unloading components

concurrent programming

There were various reasons for the decision, one of which was the use of high-quality components in the build, such as the FANUC robot, Schunk clutch and Sick’s laser safety system. In addition, the robot cell is manufactured at the Halter plant in Germany, where the software is also being developed.

Since the manufacturer uses its own operating system, programming the cell while the robot is running is simple. In addition, while the robot loads the machine into the front of the hive, the operator can introduce raw materials into the system from the back and remove the formed parts. Being able to do all of this at the same time avoids having to shut down the spindle and losing production.

Furthermore, the Portable Universal Premium 20 can be quickly moved from one machine tool to another, providing a high degree of production versatility on the shop floor.

The cell is designed for automatic loading of rods and unloading of automated workpieces to a maximum diameter of 270 mm. The customer can choose from a large selection of grid plates of different spool capacities, accommodating rectangular as well as circular workpieces and long sections.

To make it easier to connect the loading robot to the CTX beta 800 4A, Halter equipped the machine with an automation interface. This service is a huge advantage compared to the services offered by competitors. The halter is able to interact with any brand of CNC machine, regardless of its type and year of manufacture.

DMG Mori lathe is mainly used for machining components with a diameter of 130mm to 150mm. Thanks to the double spindle configuration, two workpieces can be produced in parallel. After automating the machine with halter cell, productivity increased by about 25%.

Increase automation

A year after purchasing the first DMG Mori turning center and its modification with automated loading and unloading, Euler Feinmechanik purchased two more lathes from the same source. One is another CTX beta 800 4A, while the second is a smaller CLX 350 intended to produce around 40 different components for the optical industry.

The two new machines are immediately equipped with Industry 4.0 compatible Halter loading robots identical to the first. Production on all three double-spindle lathes can go unattended at a half-shift rate, maximizing productivity and reducing labor costs.

Automation has improved production efficiency to the point that the subcontractor intends to continue automating his plant. The Halter LoadAssistant is planned for a DMG Mori lathe on the shop floor and Halter is required to add additional functions such as polishing workpieces and grinding automation cells.

Confident about the future, Mr. Euler concludes: “Automation has improved the use of our CNC machines, increased production and quality, and lowered our hourly rates. Lower production cost combined with faster and more reliable delivery has enhanced our competitiveness.

“Without unscheduled machine downtime, we can plan production better and no longer rely so much on having employees, so we can more easily deal with vacations and sick absences.

“Automation makes jobs more attractive, so it is easier to find employees. Younger employees in particular show a great interest and commitment to technology.”

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