Fully Automatic Machine Tool Tending with an Integrated Rail as a 7th Axis

June 2023
Fully Automatic Machine Tool Tending with an Integrated Rail as a 7th Axis

Faced with a complex automation challenge, Bruderer Maschninen Fabrik in Frasnacht found an innovative solution with the system integrator Roth Technik and Fanuc.

BRUDERER builds highly accurate stamping machines for a worldwide market with a nominal force of 180 to 2500 kN and a stroke rate range of 100 to 2000 rpm. Their machines are used to produce parts used in watches, electronics, and a variety of other industries.

The automation challenge was to load blanks into and remove finished parts from two very large turning-milling centers, while leaving the machining-centers as accessible as possible to the employees. Roger Müller, Production Manager at Bruderer, explains the challenges of this particular automation approach. "The challenge was that we did not have clearly defined external contours, as we mainly have to machine cast and forged blanks. In addition, we work with small batch sizes and high weights of up to 200 kg per individual part”.

Innovative solution
The systems integrator Roth Technik provided a solution to their customer by building a system that incorporates an overhead seventh axis in the form of a robot-controlled rail on which the FANUC M-900iB/360E arm rides. Markus Roth, CEO of Roth Technik commented on the solution: "We have been using FANUC robots for years because they offer the best possibilities for us as an integrator in terms of kinematics, payloads, safety options with DCS, and the options to integrate axes directly. In this system, we have fully automated the machine tending of two very large turning-milling centers as part handling. We used a FANUC M-900iB/360E robot with a reach of 2650mm and a payload of 360kg, which provides greater scope for heavier loads if required. This is mounted on a self-developed and built 7th axis, a robot rail with a length of 18 metres".

Accessibility and safety guaranteed
Using the overhead rail maximized the accessibility of the machining stations, which was a stated goal for Bruderer. The rail keeps the robot off the floor and out of the way. The flexible 6 axes give the robot the ability to reach down to the machining centers, inserting blanks and removing finished parts in a completely automatic operation. The solution includes automatic gripper changing. Thanks to the safe workspace monitoring called DCS, Dual Check Safety, it allows safe operation.

Convincing results
The results give Bruderer great satisfaction, as Roger Müller confirms: "This automation solution brings us the following advantages: We save 5 hours time per day and per machine, we can manufacture unmanned over the night and the weekend, and the employees have resources free for more exciting activities. In addition, we can react to fluctuations in capacity utilization." And Roger Müller concludes: " With Roth Technik, we have found an integrator who has mastered these challenges perfectly."

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