Robo-Trex makes light work of lights-out milling
UK manufacturing lags behind the productivity performance of fellow members of the G7 group, and also that of other major global economies. Lack of investment and the shortage of skilled staff are widely considered to be major contributing factors to this lamentable situation. In addition to being regarded as an effective means of UK manufacturers achieving productivity improvements, the implementation of advanced automation technologies, invariably helps solve business’ skills shortages.
Hertford based Qualiturn Products Ltd is a prime example of a forward thinking business that has achieved world-class levels of productivity by embracing the use of automation systems and developing efficient new working practices.
Established in 1974, and now run by second-generation Managing Director, Nick Groom, Qualiturn Product Ltd has grown to become one of the UK’s leading suppliers of precision mill-turned components. In 1990 the pioneering company became one of the first subcontractors to operate its mill-turn machines in a ‘lights-out’ manner throughout each night shift. The use of bar-feed systems and other advanced production aids means that since that time, the business has operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with only daytime staffing.
Prompted by the success of Qualiturn’s 24-7 production of precision turned components, in 2014 the company established Qualimill, a subcontract milling division that embraces similar, highly-efficient, lights-out operating methods. Just as the application of advanced technologies allowed Qualiturn to instigate a lights-out mill-turn manufacturing regime, the implementation of advanced automation aids, such as the Lang Robo-Trex system, supplied by Thame Workholding, has enabled the Qualimill division to operate milling machines lights-out fashion and has helped it to become an extremely successful sub-contract manufacturer of milled components.
To help satisfy, the ever rising demand for Qualimill’s output the company recently moved into much larger premises and several additional innovative production aids have been installed in the impressive new facility. The most recent of which is a second Robo-Trex advanced robot automation system. The productivity gains made possible by the use of Qualimill’s first Lang Robo-Trex robot systems was a major factor in the decision to purchase the second system that now feeds a Doosan DVF 5000 machining centre.
Qualimill’s two Lang Robo-Trex robot systems each use two trollies that act as mobile storage mediums. The trollies are loaded with multiple vices that hold workpieces that are ready to be loaded into the machine by the systems’ robots. The robots pick workpieces from the trollies, loads them into the machine tools, and when they are fully machined, returns them to the trollies. When filled with machined parts, each trolley is removed, and a replacement, loaded with multiple workpieces ready to be machined, is added.
Working unattended and fed by the Lang Robo-Trex systems, the company’s machining centres run throughout the day. Before the end of each day shift the Robo-Trex trollies are replenished with full consignments of workpieces, enabling each machining centre to run unmanned throughout the night.
Robo-Trex trollies are available in 2 sizes, the smaller version has a capacity of 30 vices (max. part size: 120 x 120 x 100 mm), whilst the second, larger model has a capacity of 42 vices (max. part size: 120 x 100 x 70 mm). The Robo-Trex system is able to handle 4 automation trolleys. Therefore, depending on part size, the available storage capacity increases to 120/168 vices.
The patented, edgewise mounting of the system’s vices ensures maximum space utilisation, whilst accessibility to the clamping devices allows workpieces to be exchanged, without removing the vice.
An intuitive, easy to operate touch panel enables easy control of the automated system and, as external access to the trolley is possible, production remains seamless as machining cycles do not need to be interrupted. Control of the zero-point clamping system can be performed either pneumatically through the machine tool, or mechanically through the system’s robot.
PR contact Mike Welsh firstname.lastname@example.orgBack to Case Studies
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