As part of a manufacturing process a leading producer of crankshaft forging used an Old hydraulic apparatus manufactured in Germany and installed in the 1990's.
The original machine is Obsolete and spare parts are no longer available from the original equipment manufacturer, also the original equipment uses a variety of hydraulics apparatus the hydraulic fluid is combustible and poses health risk and flammable hazards.
Review of the project
The client engaged ATSi to specify, design, supply, program, and integrate a new system on the on their hot Billet line. The goal of the project was to update the plant existing equipment, eliminate the hazard and the old Equipment Technology with new automation technology capable to handle iron billets weighing up to 40 kilograms and at a temperature in excess of 3000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The new system must be capable to communicate with the existing plants plc which is an older Allen Bradley PLC 5 system.
The other aspect of the system was safety since we were handling extremely hot parts the system must be capable of ensuring operator safety. Zurich Hazard analysis was performed. The existing plant safety equipment was outdated and had to be upgraded to current standards. A new safety controller was employed to solve all safety-related issues.
- The new robotic technology that replaced old hydraulic apparatus had to operate at a cycle time of 15 seconds or less
- System hard guarding had to be specially reinforced extra tall extreme duty hard guarding.
- The system needed to have an end effector gripper capable of carrying glowing hot parts.
Review of the solution
ATSi specified and selected ABB Foundry type robot
ATSi set up the new automation technology equipment at our facility in Windsor, Ontario Canada. The system was set up to mimick the layout as it would exist at the end user facility.
ATSi designed the entire system from scratch using the latest methodology for 3d cad design.
As part of ATSi management methodology , requirement for system validation were completed.
The system engineering was than put through a thorough validation process using process simulation software that can verify all aspects of the overall project. Cycle time and feasibility as well as any clashes or collisions that could occur were anticipated prior to any equipment being assembled.
ATSi performed the control system design which includes electrical and pneumatic controls. Special consideration for the extreme heat environment were necessary when specifying vendor product.
- The new system had to function in place of existing equipment which was on a elevated floor deck by 10 feet. Supporting structural steel had to be designed, manufactured, and installed onsite prior to placement of the robot system. Structural Engineering had to be consulted and contracted.
- A new safety system "safe move" as optional in the robot needed to be employed as the work cell footprint was limited.
- Special heat rated grippers and finger details had to be designed and selected.
- The older plant PLC system had to be reused to integrate the new system.
- Older safety equipment had to be brought up to current standards using a safety controller.
- Cycle time needed to be 15 second or less.
- OEE overall equipment efficiency had to be at 99.5%
ATSi successfully commissioned the system and performed site acceptance testing to the clients satisfaction.
The new system performs reliably, and has a reliable source of new spare parts.
By eliminating the hydraulics system and its old school mechanical apparatus, and replacing with me robust automation technology solution.
The safer and more agile system using foundary robot with special “ extreme environment” rated end effector means this forging manufacturer can rest assured the robust system made by ATSI will perform reliably and safely for many years to come.