Tubes+Trends 2018: Interview – Stefanie Flaeper, General Manager of transfluid
What do the current trends in pipe forming and bending technology look like?
Basically, we assume that there's a higher demand than ever before for more flexibility in processing pipes. This is because it is foreseeable that there will only be large-scale series in the future. Production needs to adjust to these circumstances. In principle, this also applies to developments in bending technology. The demand for more dynamic production of complete kits featuring diverse geometries and diameters continues to increase.
How is the general reception of software-controlled process optimisation with regard to industry 4.0?
Connectivity is in constant demand in the most diverse areas. However, not every customer desires complete networking. In particular, wherever data protection is involved. At transfluid, we are suitably prepared to implement the right connection and integration solutions. All controller adjustments have already been implemented with new control systems.
In which areas is robotics producing faster processes?
Robots are certainly not the fastest solution in automation. We offer high-performance, linear handling systems in this area. However, robots can be used with high flexibility for a variety of components. Wherever transferring previously bent parts to further processing steps is involved, robots are the best solution in terms of efficiency.
Furthermore, the robot is sometimes can also become a bending machine , which makes it outstanding for implementing complex geometries. And as a robot bender, it's an extremely efficient and effective solution for processing long pipes with small pipe diameters. Of course, it is also capable of assuming handling tasks as well. Programming takes place according to XYZ coordinates, and CAD is able to be imported
How sensible is it to retrofit older pipe processing machine to make them suitable for 4.0?
Old bending machines are essentially able to be converted if they feature new controller components and these permit connection and controlling of processes. This is a basic requirement. Conversion of old systems to this standard is very questionable, and it depends completely on the individual case. If an older system only completes a rudimentary task in the process, an upgrade may be sufficient. In any case, and regardless of suitability for industry 4.0, new systems enable faster, better, and more economical processes. Plus, this is much more sustainable.
What does a sustainable machine application involve, and what needs to be considered especially during maintenance and upkeep?
Of course, it is important that service is easy to complete, downtimes are avoided, and that a supply of replacement parts is available to the customer or manufacturer. The service intervals need to be recorded, displayed, and acknowledged. Preventative service activities, e.g. via maintenance contracts, and predictive maintenance enable the life span and processing ability of systems to be improved significantly. In particular, predictive maintenance is more and more interesting for our customers to ensure long-term production and long life for their machines. 2017 has already indicated this trend.