Getech controls BMO Titanium 50 robot cell directly from the ERP system without human intervention
‘When mechanical companies transform their processes at the machine into a logistics process, they gain more than just capacity. Just by zooming in on every step of the machining process and putting this knowledge into databases. By doing this you can see which work in production can be taken care off by your logistics staff. You can than increase the production off your machines and suffer less from the lack of professionals’ says Frank Biemans. A good example can be seen at Getech B.V. in Westerbork (NL).
BMO Automation built the automation system for Getech in such a way that the robot cell is controlled from the customer’s ERP system. Programming the robot for 60 unique products is done automatically in less than a minute.
Automation has entered a new phase, says Frank Biemans, director of BMO Automation, the Dutch manufacturer and supplier of automation solutions for loading and unloading CNC turning and milling machines. At Getech in Westerbork, manufacturer of measuring setups for the automotive industry, BMO Automation recently completed an automation project that he believes is trend-setting. A Hurco and a Doosan CNC machine as well as a Titanium 50 robot cell from BMO Automation, produce fully autonomous 60 unique products in one night and finished on six sides.
The BMO robot automation is controlled from the ERP system. “These are truly unique products that Getech never produced before. No repeat orders”, emphasizes Frank Biemans. In less than a minute, the robot cell has read the data from the ERP system for all 60 products and programmed new jobs into the robot. Thanks to BMO Automation’s unique servo gripper and the high capacity of pallet spaces for machine clamps, no one has to adjust anything mechanically at the machine anymore. “This is a perfect example of automating single pieces with product handling. Totally new single piece products that have never been machined on the machine before and they are machined on six sides”.
In the 13 years of BMO Automation’s existence, Frank Biemans sees a shift in automation. In the beginning it was mainly about automating larger series and replacing hands; today automation is more focused on high quality and high complex products. “Our focus has remained the same for all these years, but thanks to the further development of our products, we are now able to handle 10 times 1 product. And that’s what it’s all about. Manufacturing companies are confronted with demands for high-mix low-volume and a focus for make-to-order. Shifting knowledge to work preparation and automation systems helps to process that order flow efficiently.
The BMO Automation software team has created an interface between the robot cell and the ERP system for Getech. This allows production to be fully controlled from the ERP system. Even the robot does not need to be programmed, that data comes from the ERP system. The company has implemented the necessary standardization in the production itself. The robot cell itself has special software modules, such as BMO’s Tool Lifetime Management module. The system knows whether the tool life is still sufficient for the jobs being loaded and warns if this is not the case. In the unlikely event that a tool breaks, the control system uses it intelligence and proceeds to orders that can still be processed if no sister tool is available. The specific milling knowledge, the milling strategies, are also stored in a database.
The future starts today
To make this all possible, it is important that companies standardize. Frank Biemans: “Take the process apart and minimize the risks for each step”. Any business can start today. Standardization of tooling, CADCAM programs and working with tool management systems are things you can start implementing right away. This lays the foundation for a logistics process in the factory. According to Frank Biemans, if you succeed in shifting a lot more work towards work preparation and optimising the process in such a way that only logistic work remains on the machine, you create an enormous capacity.
“The potential capacity in the Netherlands would be enormous if all companies were to do this. Millers then become process engineers, taking any uncertainty out of the process. Repeat orders then automatically go to the machine; the robot sets the machine to this order. The use of AGVs to automate logistics work can be a next step that Frank Biemans believes will certainly come. First and foremost, however, is process control. This forms the basis for the automation of machining processes. “If you have properly controlled all parts of the process and eliminated risks, you don’t have to check every product. Process control is crucial for innovative growth.”
Servogripper 2.0: no mechanical adjustment
An important part of the High-Mix High-Volume strategy of BMO Automation is the self-developed servogripper. This servogripper adjusts itself to the dimensions of the product or the clamp. The gripper has a very wide range (up to a maximum of 274 mm), is waterproof, is available in a two- and three-point version as well as a combination of these. This is practical, for example, for the multitasking machines where you start with bar material and take a prismatic part out of the machine. Partly thanks to the servo gripper, a BMO robot load cell changes jobs within a minute without the need for mechanical changeovers. As a result, large time advantages can be achieved and the capacity of the CNC machine increases considerably.
More information about Getech B.V. via the following link.