SW is transforming to become a system supplier for independent cells and complete lines
Shorter product lifecycles and faster production startup demand new flexibility in metal-cutting manufacturing. More and more users are looking for partners who will take on the responsibility of planning and coordination for the installation of new capacities. Schwäbische Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH (SW) has established comprehensive system competence in this area. The recently developed two-spindle independent manufacturing solution BA 322i with independent automation speeds up commissioning and startup significantly.
The volatility of demand has risen sharply in many industries. Suppliers need to respond under great time pressure and adapt quantities. Multi-spindle machining centers are an economical remedy. They multiply productivity compared to one-spindle machines in a comparable area with greater energy efficiency. In practice, however, automation often forms a bottleneck for delivery time and commissioning until the start of production.
SW shortens the time required to do this with completely automated independent cells as plug-and-play solutions. In the recently developed BA 322i, SW combines a two-spindle machining center with an automation solution including robot and pallet storage in the factory. This independent cell is a turnkey crane hook solution.
Nine hours of production with no human intervention
Automated independent manufacturing cells like the new BA 322i are especially suitable when one operator is responsible for several machines or when production is fully automated in unsupervised shifts. This solution is based on the BA 322, the two-spindle machining center with two pallets on the double swivel carrier, a solution which is typical for SW. SW has developed a loading module for this machining center with an integrated 6-axis robot and vertical pallet storage for raw and finished parts which is also mechanically connected with the machine. The electrical installation of assemblies in the user's manufacturing hall, common until now, is eliminated, as is an internal risk analysis for machine safety and separate commissioning of the automation.
The 6-axis robot for loading and unloading in parallel to machining time is positioned on the machine cover for the BA 322i and ensures free access to the machine from all sides. In addition, this arrangement opens up free spaces for other technologies such as measuring or checking workpieces, reclamping, labeling or scanning. The vertical pallet storage integrated into the module holds more than 1,100 raw or finished parts the size of automobile compressor wheels, for example. The unsupervised runtime of the system with a cycle time of 1 minute for every two workpieces thus extends for more than nine hours. A mobile cage with low-wearing ball screw drive is used for pallet transport. This makes it possible for operators to load and unload pallets at an ergonomically optimum and consistent height.
Complete manufacturing lines from a single source
Planning for new production lines and factories has reached a state of such complexity that manufacturing companies are often unable to handle it with internal capacities. Users are therefore more and more frequently looking for system suppliers like SW to design, plan and implement complete production lines according to individual specifications as a turnkey solution. SW has been taking on assignments like this for decades, assuming overall responsibility for projects of this nature and coordinating all the tasks.
SW application engineers use the latest plant simulation software for the entire factory or line in their planning. In this way they can optimize the cycle time design and minimize possible risks in advance with material flow analysis. Skillful planning reduces the number of loading and clamping processes while boosting productivity with automated value-added chains. The engineers also calculate workpiece costs in advance together with the user, thereby ensuring planning security.
SW takes on the responsibility for machine and plant construction together with all additional stations as well as automation. That begins when raw parts are fed into the line. Starting from there, for the most part each station is loaded and unloaded automatically with robots. Where it makes sense, two, three and four-spindle machines ensure maximum throughput, while one-spindle machines are used for special machining tasks. Then the parts are cleaned and cycled into other process steps by SW Automation.
Data-based services increase availability
More and more customers are also specifying the information technology connection to higher level systems. SW software specialists work out suitable solutions, sometimes including the development of MES systems specially coordinated with the application. Recording the operating data down to the NC block level ensures that all production steps can be tracked for every component and also provides quality assurance.
SW's own assembly plants and engineering capacities in the USA and China give it flexibility to respond to regional requirements for system business in these markets and offer a high level of local added value. This criterion is becoming increasingly important for projects in Asia and the Americas.
The same is true for machines, independent cells or complete manufacturing lines: After commissioning, users expect the highest availability over the entire lifecycle and for faults to be remedied quickly. SW offers this with an extensive portfolio of "life" services for the entire service life of systems. The new data-based “life data” services play a key role in this. The systems transfer operating data approved by the user to the SW CloudPlatform around the clock. Service specialists use analysis tools to convert this data into useful, practical information. The data is used not only to optimize production processes, but also to detect wear before it leads to machine downtime. There are currently already about 1000 machines connected to the SW CloudPlatform, the majority of them replicated regularly. Service visits can be planned in advance thanks to status reports that can be viewed at any time and notification when wear limits have been reached.
“life help” experts also analyze the machine online during a service visit. Many tasks that previously required a technician on site can now be carried out together with the customer from the technician's workstation at SW. If a service call is required for the machine, however, the service technicians know in advance what the error is and which spare parts are needed. This reduces downtimes considerably.
In addition, “life” services include commissioning and launch support for systems on site, training for operators and maintenance engineers and worldwide delivery of original parts. SW will also give your installed machines a second and third life through hardware and software upgrades and complete overhauls.