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2011/07/15

Automated setter’s trick





Why make it complicated, if there is an easier
way?


Setters are smart people – the trick with the >BG
plug< is only one of many in their repertoire. But a master is found when a
well-known machine manufacturer can learn from a machine setter what else his
machine can do.

From dumb waiters to heavy goods lifts that can handle 50 metric tons of
articulated lorry – Algi in Eltville, Rhinegau, manufactures them all. Every
year approximately 6,000 lifts and elevators carrying passengers, vehicles and
loads of every kind leave Eltville for destinations across the globe. Algi is
also in high demand as a supplier of sturdy, heavy-duty, precision hydraulics
components for offshore installations, presses, locks and sluices, as well as
components for the mechanical engineering, agricultural machine and armaments
industries. The company has developed their own method of honing cylinders that are known for their
longevity and impermeableness, characteristics that make them unique among the
competition. The dimensions of the cylinders are reaching the limits of
technical achievability when it comes to their degree of precision: up to 35
m in length and an O/D of 500 mm, or a
length of 12 m and an I/D of up to 600 mm. It goes without saying that these
huge components come with a multitude of smaller and smallest parts. For those
too the metal cutting specialists have come up with something very special. The
machines used for their production – two Emag VL 5 and one VL 3 – may look like
standard machines, but they have mutated – to a large part owing to the
ingenuity of the chief of NC production, Jörg Hilgert – into universal, flexible
machining centers. Hilgert has wrung everything out of these machines that
control system and mechanics could possibly offer. Seen together with what the
vertical pick-up machines with internal automation are generally capable of,
this amounts to an unbeatable manufacturing solution.

Algi’s in-house production covers a large range of
components. Every one of the 6,000 lifts produced per year is unique; and the
solutions that have to be found to the various problems their manufacture poses
are as individual as the demands of the customers. The extent of the in-house
production and the clamour for instant availability of the components calls for
either enormous inventories (to which the business economist has valid
objections) or for great flexibility in producing the parts. To make matters
worse, lift construction is subject to seasonal fluctuations. And there are some
customers – in particular the international concerns – that collate orders and
issue them in batches. Inconsequence, the production tools that Algi uses have
to be highly flexible and must offer a wide range of process possibilities. (See
also the report on Algi and the VLs in “maschine + werkzeug” June 2006 “Where
specials come as standard”). The decisive arguments in favour of the investment
therefore centred on flexibility, combined with the lowest possible production
costs. And something else: In its CNC departments Algi employs only specialists
that, as far as this is possible, operate and set up their machines
independently. Every member of staff is responsible for the quality of their own
work and also has the possibility to influence the manufacturing process. They
are aware of the fact that the life of other human beings depends on the
reliability of the components they manufacture. It does not allow for even the
smallest margin of error. “Or would you like to be 50 metres up in a lift of
which you know that it has been produced by Algi at a margin of error of ‘only’
0.001%?” asks Hilgert. “As early as the day the decision was taken to go ahead
with the investment, it was clear that the Emag machines would be used
exclusively for the production of small and medium component batches. And even
before the investment was made the overall concept of the VLs – and of the VSCs
– promised that the machines would meet our requirements”, started Jörg Hilgert
his account of the advantages of ‘his’ VLs. “Decisive factors for us were the
integrated automation that could be directly controlled by the machine’s control
system, the small footprint, the technology that had been tried and tested a
thousand times, the arrangement of the work spindle – symmetrical, between the
guideways – and the Fanuc control system of which we have had decades of
experience. And over time we discovered that the machines had further potential
for an even more cost-effective production of, in particular, the smaller
component batches.”






The three Emag
VLs at Algi, Eltville, have been converted
to multi-functional, highly flexible turning centers with the help of a
smart, automatic setup program. On average, every machine is reset on a new
component at least twice a day – easily and in the shortest possible
time.













Automated setter’s trick






















The three Emag
VLs at Algi, Eltville, have been converted to multi-functional, highly flexible turning
centers with the help of a smart, automatic setup program. On average, every
machine is reset on a new component at least twice a day – easily and in the
shortest possible time.


Why make it complicated, if there is an easier
way?


Setters are smart people – the trick with the >BG
plug< is only one of many in their repertoire. But a master is found when a
well-known machine manufacturer can learn from a machine setter what else his
machine can do.

From dumb waiters to heavy goods lifts that can handle 50 metric tons of
articulated lorry – Algi in Eltville, Rhinegau, manufactures them all. Every
year approximately 6,000 lifts and elevators carrying passengers, vehicles and
loads of every kind leave Eltville for destinations across the globe. Algi is
also in high demand as a supplier of sturdy, heavy-duty, precision hydraulics
components for offshore installations, presses, locks and sluices, as well as
components for the mechanical engineering, agricultural machine and armaments
industries. The company has developed their own method of honing cylinders that are known for their
longevity and impermeableness, characteristics that make them unique among the
competition. The dimensions of the cylinders are reaching the limits of
technical achievability when it comes to their degree of precision: up to 35
m in length and an O/D of 500 mm, or a
length of 12 m and an I/D of up to 600 mm. It goes without saying that these
huge components come with a multitude of smaller and smallest parts. For those
too the metal cutting specialists have come up with something very special. The
machines used for their production – two Emag VL 5 and one VL 3 – may look like
standard machines, but they have mutated – to a large part owing to the
ingenuity of the chief of NC production, Jörg Hilgert – into universal, flexible
machining centers. Hilgert has wrung everything out of these machines that
control system and mechanics could possibly offer. Seen together with what the
vertical pick-up machines with internal automation are generally capable of,
this amounts to an unbeatable manufacturing solution.

Algi’s in-house
production covers a large range of components. Every one of the 6,000 lifts
produced per year is unique; and the solutions that have to be found to the
various problems their manufacture poses are as individual as the demands of the
customers. The extent of the in-house production and the clamour for instant
availability of the components calls for either enormous inventories (to which
the business economist has valid objections) or for great flexibility in
producing the parts. To make matters worse, lift construction is subject to
seasonal fluctuations. And there are some customers – in particular the
international concerns – that collate orders and issue them in batches.
Inconsequence, the production tools that Algi uses have to be highly flexible
and must offer a wide range of process possibilities. (See also the report on
Algi and the VLs in “maschine + werkzeug” June 2006 “Where specials come as
standard”). The decisive arguments in favour of the investment therefore centred
on flexibility, combined with the lowest possible production costs. And
something else: In its CNC departments Algi employs only specialists that, as
far as this is possible, operate and set up their machines independently. Every
member of staff is responsible for the quality of their own work and also has
the possibility to influence the manufacturing process. They are aware of the
fact that the life of other human beings depends on the reliability of the
components they manufacture. It does not allow for even the smallest margin of
error. “Or would you like to be 50 metres up in a lift of which you know that it
has been produced by Algi at a margin of error of ‘only’ 0.001%?” asks Hilgert.
“As early as the day the decision was taken to go ahead with the investment, it
was clear that the Emag machines would be used exclusively for the production of
small and medium component batches. And even before the investment was made the
overall concept of the VLs – and of the VSCs – promised that the machines would
meet our requirements”, started Jörg Hilgert his account of the advantages of
‘his’ VLs. “Decisive factors for us were the integrated automation that could be
directly controlled by the machine’s control system, the small footprint, the
technology that had been tried and tested a thousand times, the arrangement of
the work spindle – symmetrical, between the guideways – and the Fanuc control
system of which we have had decades of experience. And over time we discovered
that the machines had further potential for an even more cost-effective
production of, in particular, the smaller component
batches.”













Resetting the
machine to the most varied components is stress-free work of just a few
minutes.




Master of his
trade Jörg Hilgert activates one of his specialised automated setup
macros.


Vertical machines are reset quicker than horizontal
ones

According to Hilgert, a particular strength of the VL is that
it can be adapted to suit individual requirements with a minimum of effort. “We
have developed a special setup micro that allows us to reset the VL with its
automation quicker than a conventional horizontal CNC machine without
automation”, he explains (see m+w 6/2006). Then he adds with a smile: “I am
quite proud about having developed this even further since.” Here follows a
comparison that clarifies the improvements.

Previous setup
procedure:
The manufacture of a workpiece requires two programs – a
machining program (as on a conventional CNC machine) and a program that sets the
workpiece zero and defines the workpiece collection and return points for the
automation equipment and the auxiliary functions, such as the flushing of the
workholding unit, etc. This second program is where the big difference to
“normal” CNC turning lies. It also represents a weak point, which causes
resentment in the setter, especially at first. The reason lies in the fact that
the machine zero on vertical pick-up machines lies not at the spindle nose
(which – on vertical machines – moves about), but at the upper edge of the
stationary tool turret. The eight values are abstract and can often be
determined only by manually traversing to the machine position and taking an
on-the-spot reading. This is a time consuming undertaking – especially where
time is of the essence – and one that is also subject to human error. Because
the input values are pretty abstract and cannot be obtained from drawings or
through measuring, misreading the values or accidentally transposing the numbers
can lead to serious crashes, as such errors are often detected only when the
program is run.

Setup à la Algi-Hilgert:
The setter
selects the current CNC program and sets his workholding equipment values (just
as in the conventional setting process). The machine now only needs to know the
allowance in the length of the raw-part (e.g. 2 mm). The setter then selects the
operating mode “Automatic” and presses “Setup” and “Start” key. The machine
fully automatically carries out a measuring circuit (this takes less than a
minute), i.e. it automatically calibrates workpiece and workholding unit and
sets all zeros and workpiece collection and return points. Even workpiece
pallets can be easily accommodated, and the C-axis zero is automatically
exported to the CNC program.

The setup is done in Automatic mode, without
the setter’s intervention (which almost completely eliminates any human error).
It is, of course, still possible to set up the machine the conventional way.
“But,” explains Hilgert with pride, “our ‘setter-operators’ only use the
‘automated setup key’.” And he continues: “This system is of particular
advantage for the machining of small and very small numbers of components, as
the VL machines now combine the classical advantages of the pick-up machine, its
low idle times and its low manpower requirements with the highest degree of
flexibility and operator friendliness.” At present, Algi’s 3 VL machines produce
450 different components per year (mostly recurring in-house production jobs),
but the company only stockpiles a maximum of three months worth of finished
products. It means that every component has to be set up at least four times a
year, and that every operator also sets up their machine at least twice a day,
provided the relevant NC program is available.








Michael Ossot,
Emag’s branch manager, and Jörg Hilgert have for years had an instant
rapport.




The surface
finish and precision, achieved by a special process developed by Algi, prevents
leakages and sealing erosion.




This kind of
ultra-precision machining of hydraulic cylinders of up to 35 m in length and 500
mm O/D is unequalled in this branch of the industry.


Perfect service, the very best customer
care

Jörg Hilgert has only praise for the investment decision to buy
the VLs: “We could not have been offered a better overall concept.” And what
about the service? “Even after three and a half years experience with Emag we
see our expectations more than fulfilled. Emag has a service department that is
truly magnificent in its response. Of course, after many thousands of
operational hours you do get the occasional call for repairs. However, most of
the problems are solved over the telephone, as Emag ensures there are always
competent, highly motivated – and above all willing – specialists available to
speak to. Cooperation with the Sales Office at Frankfort too – and in particular
with Herr Ossot, the branch manager – is, as ever, outstanding. It is an
impressive demonstration of how customer care and support does not need to end
with the commissioning of a production line. It is nice to know, that even now
problems can be solved through ‘unofficial
channels’!”

User:
ALGI Alfred Giehl GmbH &
Co.KG
Eltviller Straße
5
Kiedrich im Rheingau
Bericht aus: Maschine+Werkzeug
08.2007



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