Smaller quantities, lots of automation
transfluid develops a highly flexible production cell for complex pipe variants
This nearly seems possible: automatically producing tubes in small quantities. Prompted by increasing demand, the trend meets expectations for economy and efficiency to allow the sort of production that transfluid has now made possible as part of a current project. “The most important thing for automation in small quantities is process reliability and the ability to read out data precisely. They key word is Industry 4.0,” explains Stefanie Flaeper, Managing Director at transfluid. “In addition, there is employee-independent production. And with automated processing, the process has a strong influence on subsequent procedures, such as assembly of component groups. Here, automation offers a good deal of planning certainty.”
Tube surfaces are retained and stay flexible
In the transfluid project, the customer wanted a precisely coordinated automation system — one for processing chromium VI free coated tubes, as well as tubes with powder-coated surfaces, which are very sensitive. The workpieces can be relatively short (150 mm) or relatively long (up to 3,000 mm), and loading was to be automatic. Moreover, cutting ring assembly was required, along with mounting of flanges, production of hose connections.
Precisely coordinated process
Altogether, it was very demanding, but transfluid has met the challenge with an automation system in which, after the separation process, the workpiece can be loaded into a slide conveyor for automatic loading. For powder-coated tubes, separate loading is provided, because here only small quantities are loaded, so as to prevent surface damage. An integrated transfluid axial forming machine creates geometries or hose connections. And on a second forming machine, the flanges necessary for some components can be loaded and attached. Then the tubes are correctly positioned in a bending machine, bent and it ensues a controlled unloading. A robot does the entire handling from separation to the individual machines.
Monitored, documented assembly
For tubes used in hydraulic systems, the processing procedure first involves a bending cell that makes the right/left bend on a fully electrical machine. Then the robot positions the tube for a die ring assembly. The nut and die ring are automatically loaded there and monitored assembly occurs. The pressure and stroke are monitored and properly documented by the system for tracing.
The finished components are then placed into various compartments in movable trolleys. They can be taken immediately for further processing. Trolley exchange occurs outside the safety area, so that the system continues to produce during unloading. This cell’s overall configuration is enormously efficient and versatile. It shows that automated component production no longer has to involve large quantities. Effective tube solutions of this kind will surely be part of the conversation at transfluid’s booth G95 in hall 15 at EMO Hanover.
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