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Machine builder develops fully automated die handling system with 15,000-pound capacity to load and unload presses with staging tables for continuous production; die change time reduced from two hours to ten minutes
Beckwood Corporation in Fenton, Missouri (St. Louis) is a leading manufacturer of custom hydraulic presses, automation systems and the Triform line of precision forming equipment. While their machinery serves a variety of industries and applications, they excel at developing robust aerospace forming technologies engineered for accuracy and repeatability. In detailing the sophistication of their machine designs for this challenging market segment, their website includes something of a company mantra, “It IS rocket science.”
One customer, a metalform fabricator and producer of various components for the commercial and military aircraft sectors, brought Beckwood their challenge. The company was seeking a turnkey package consisting of two 1400-ton hydraulic presses and two automated stamping die handling systems to load and unload the presses more efficiently than the conventional forklift and manual labor-intensive system this customer was currently utilizing. The presses and quick die change (QDC) workcells would be used to form a variety of parts in relatively low volumes, so the system to be designed needed a more automated die handling system. In addition, a 42”-diameter deep draw sheet hydroforming press with staging table was needed. Such a press would be the largest of its kind in the world, once produced.
A critical part of the challenge involved the need for a QDC system with 15,000-pound capacity to feed each 1400-ton press. As Beckwood’s lead electrical engineer John Harte explains, “We conducted a thorough review with all our local die cart suppliers and all passed on the bid, citing too many obstacles on that large a load. So, as we often do, we decided to design, engineer and build the system ourselves.” The presses each had a footprint approximately 30’ square, and the QDC would need to service the presses with T-table staging devices, allowing the next die to be prepped and ready to insert upon completion of the previous run cycle.
With the degree of automation involved, Beckwood worked with the customer’s engineering staff to devise a workcell concept comprised of two 4-post presses, each with a QDC system including a cart, rack and T-table with 15,000-pound load capacity. Each press would be over 33’ in height and positioned in a 10’ deep pit.
As the customer was a longtime user of Siemens motion control and HMI, they specified this supplier for the project. Harte connected with Derek Eastep, his account manager for Siemens, and the product list for the project began to take shape. Various drives, PLCs, displays and motion controllers were specified. The latter was a critical component, as the motion controller was required to operate all press movements, as well as the motor starters, QDC integration, light curtains that protect the workcell and operators plus area scanners that maintain the integrated safety condition monitoring on the entire cell.
The system logic and data logging setup was to be done by the customer, who had considerable experience with Siemens controls, with the Beckwood team integrating the QDC and overall cell management.
The QDC operates in tandem with the two presses, using four 15HP motors to drive the lead screws on this massive die handling system. They are electrically geared through the onboard Siemens PLC to move the ram and shuttle. Additional motors and drives on the feed tables allow the next die to be positioned during press operation. When a press cycle is completed, the air bags on the feed tables lift the next die for positioning onto the QDC, then a shuttle inserts the die inside the press, with all motion controlled by the PLC. These T-tables and the QDC were designed, engineered, built and tested by Beckwood at their factory prior to shipment and installation at the customer’s facility. Both Beckwood and Siemens personnel were active in the commissioning of the entire system.
The PLC is a Siemens S7-1515—a robust controller that integrates function control, safety and condition display in a single module with Profinet protocol for bus communication. Through the TIA Portal and Step 7 software provided by Siemens, the end user can customize the operation of the devices remotely, integrating multiple part files and related safety commands in one controller. This “library” feature allows the end user, as they run a variety of parts during a shift, for example, to use one software package to program quickly and more efficiently. Likewise, the safety switches on the entire system are programmed through this secure and redundant safety back-up software through the TIA Portal.
All motor movements on the twin four-post presses are controlled with Siemens drive technology. In operation, the Beckwood presses with the QDC systems are expected to reduce die setup and changeover from approximately two hours to ten minutes.
As Derek Eastep from Siemens notes, “Because the end user was a longtime customer, we performed the application engineering with Beckwood and their customer, fully confident that the system would be set up and running in a relatively short time, as all parties had good familiarity with our protocols.” Harte adds, “We used the Selector, Sizer and Starter engineering tools from Siemens to spec and then commission the drives, which saved us a substantial amount of time. It made our lives a lot easier,” he muses.
The two 1400-ton presses in the workcells are Beckwood’s robust four-post frame style with replaceable, graphite-impregnated bronze bushings and solid chrome-plated posts to ensure precision ram guidance. Designed to form parts with challenging geometries in low-volume, high-mix production environments, the 42” Triform deep draw sheet hydroforming press will be the largest press of its kind in the world.
Josh Dixon, director of sales & marketing at Beckwood, says in the company video, “We hate the word ‘no’.” The success of this unique and first-of-kind press and QDC workcell, built by Beckwood with the help of its controls supplier Siemens, bears out that statement.
Due to the versatile nature of Beckwood’s “built to order” business model, their machines are engineered to serve a variety of industries. Beckwood’s extensive experience serving so many industries provides a unique vantage point that customers find incredibly valuable. They are often able to recommend process improvements that customers may have never known or considered, revolutionizing their manufacturing operations. Beyond metal forming, the company also manufactures presses used to form rubber, plastic, composites and other material substrates. The business started in 1976 and is today led by company president Jeff Debus.
For more information on this story, please contact:
889 Horan Drive
Fenton, MO 63026-2405
About Siemens USA
Siemens Corporation is a U.S. subsidiary of Siemens AG, a global powerhouse focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization. One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is a leading supplier of systems for power generation and transmission as well as medical diagnosis. With approximately 348,000 employees in more than 190 countries, Siemens reported worldwide revenue of $86.2 billion in fiscal 2015. Siemens in the USA reported revenue of $22.4 billion, including $5.5 billion in exports, and employs approximately 50,000 people throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico.Continue reading
Low-cost kits allow easy-to-install, direct mounting of G120C Compact and G120 PM240-2 modular drive
Siemens announced today the availability of wall-mounting kits for its Sinamics G120C and G120 PM240-2 modular drives. These low-cost kits allow easy, fast installation of the drives and conform to NEMA 1 and UL Type 1 standards for interior applications. These wall-mount kits are designed in accordance with UL 61800-5-1 standards for AC drives.
Available in power ranges from ½ to 200 hp and voltages from 230V to 690V, the kits offer streamlined, compact design for use with all drive frame sizes of the corresponding Siemens drive units. Each kit provides best-in-class space-savings and direct access to the drive-mounted operator panel for simple commissioning, condition monitoring and even troubleshooting.
The new kits accommodate all G120C, PM240-2 and PM240P-2 power modules, control units and operator panels in the Sinamics drive family. Standardized designs permit efficient side-by-side mounting with minimal clearance, while multiple conduit knockout holes allow separate power, motor, I/O and network cabling.
Seven kits are currently available to fit all drive units from AA to F frame sizes.
For specific product information, please visit: www.usa.siemens.com/sinamics-g120
Siemens Digital Factory (DF) offers a comprehensive portfolio of seamlessly integrated hardware, software and technology-based services in order to support manufacturing companies worldwide in enhancing the flexibility and efficiency of their manufacturing processes and reducing the time to market of their products.
Siemens Corporation is a U.S. subsidiary of Siemens AG, a global powerhouse focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization. One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is a leading supplier of systems for power generation and transmission as well as medical diagnosis. With approximately 351,000 employees in 190 countries, Siemens reported worldwide revenue of $88.1 billion in fiscal 2016. Siemens in the USA reported revenue of $23.7 billion, including $5.4 billion in exports, and employs approximately 50,000 people throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico.Continue reading
Co-rotating twin-screw compound extruder used in R&D facility to test material batches, recipes; pre-configured extrusion solution on control package monitors entire machine, providing “big data” for customer at attractive price point
KRAIBURG TPE Corporation in Duluth, Ga. is a manufacturer of custom-made thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) compounds for a variety of market applications in the automotive, medical, general industrial and myriad consumer sectors. At the Duluth facility, the product development department routinely evaluates material batches and new custom compounds for performance and customer specification viability. As an integral step in that process, KRAIBURG TPE engineers utilize sophisticated co-rotating, twin-screw extruder technology provided by KraussMaffei Berstorff, from its facility in Florence, Ky.
Owing to the substantial varieties of color, durometer and the wide-ranging performance properties required at KRAIBURG TPE, monitoring every aspect of the machine performance is critical. This includes all temperatures, speeds, pressures and torque on the extruder itself, plus an underwater pelletizer, gear pump and multiple loss-of-weight feeders used on the line.
For the latest machine installed at the KRAIBURG TPE facility, as senior application engineer at KraussMaffei Bertstorff, David Frankenberg, explains, “The lab extrusion line is used for both process and product development assessment. A key requirement was the generation of all data in real time, as part of the management system to be used, as well as the condition monitoring system needed for predictive maintenance strategies being employed.” In cooperation with the KRAIBURG TPE team and after evaluating the competitors for the control scheme, KraussMaffei turned to Siemens for assistance, as this supplier was able to bring a pre-configured and highly cost-effective solution to the requirements on this machine.
As Frankenberg and his electrical engineering associate Martin Gonzalez detailed, the Siemens EXT3370 application package represented a blending of the current PLC technology and drives platform with an HMI capable of providing all graphics and multiple data screens on a single display. In addition, the system had the ability to feed the “big data” directly to the KRAIBURG TPE process data archival & analysis system, where it would reside for real-time and long-range performance evaluation by the product development, quality and process teams. All speeds, pressures, temperatures and other parameters can be instantly assessed, using set point and actual value data on the display, either at the machine HMI or a remote monitor within the KRAIBURG TPE network.
On the KraussMaffei Bertstorff machine, the control system comprises the software solution, Siemens drives and motors, the ability to monitor up to 32 separate temperature zones, touch screen technology on a 15” HMI and scalability on the drives to accept the ancillary equipment being monitored at the KRAIBURG TPE facility. In this way, a truly customized solution was devised using an entirely standard and thus highly cost-effective array of components, according to Frankenberg. As an additional benefit, he noted, the training needed was minimal, owing to the plain language on the control with no need for knowledge of high-level programming skills. Finally, all compound recipes can be easily transferred via USB for portability and security.
Allen Donn, product development engineer at KRAIBURG TPE, along with his team of engineers and tech specialists, evaluated the installation and commissioning of the machine at the Duluth facility. “The data transfer from the PLC into the same process data archival & analysis system that we use for our other lines at KRAIBURG TPE. A simple Excel file is generated with any parameters desired for analysis, plus we can easily exchange data between R&D and production here. The result is that our ability to utilize production machinery more efficiently has increased substantially with the use of the new KraussMaffei Bertstorff machine in our test department, as the control system gives us real-time hard data we can use to make adjustments on new recipes and entirely new materials.” KRAIBURG TPE performs extensive new compound property performance testing on its TPE formulae and the time compression realized by using the new extruder line in this “real world” R&D operation is providing substantial advantages for the compounder.
KRAIBURG TPE typically runs materials in the 20-80 Shore A hardness range and, as an example, might test out a variety of adhesion grades for over-molding onto polycarbonate, nylon, or other substrates, Donn explained. “When we can pull the data from any machine in the system, adjust it, run it on the R&D machine, and then feed that data back into production, it makes a huge difference in our efficiencies.” In one instance, shortly after the KraussMaffei machine was installed, KRAIBURG TPE engineers were testing 15 compound varieties on the machine very quickly, compared to using production equipment to do that task. “I could look into the software to compare all set point and actual values, remotely, over the entire test period,” Donn noted. He added that the substantial raw material cost savings of more tests, faster results and less waste all contribute to an improved profitability for the company, as well.
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Advanced motors, drives and rapid feedback controls make substantial improvements in machine performance at Grand Rapids supplier to poly foam insulation and padding industries
As Rick Hungerford, president and CEO of Edge-Sweets (ESCO) points out, think of the mattress that remembers, the steering wheel that saves lives or the bandage pad with built-in antibiotic. All these products start from blocks of cast polyurethane foam in various densities, then get cut, profiled or shaped by special machinery. ESCO is a leading manufacturer of such machinery, supplying the furniture, mattress, automotive, packaging, pipe insulation, healthcare and other industries with automated CNC profilers and horizontal cutting machines. Production speeds up to 840 inches per minute (21.33 meters per minute) are achieved on flexible and rebonded polyurethane, latex and viscoelastic materials, when used as either stand-alone cutting machinery or in tandem with automated materials handling and packaging lines. The ESCO end user base reaches into many industries in the global market.
On two recent developments in the company’s machinery line, an engineering evaluation of competing motor, drive and controls lines was conducted, under the direction of Hungerford, who notes, “On our PMIII-1530, a horizontal profile saw with a 1.5 meter x 3 meter block cutting capability, we worked with one of our most trusted local suppliers of automation components, Wes Morgan from Electro-Matic Products, who introduced us to the Siemens motion controller, servomotor, gearmotor and drive package. We were seeking a controls platform that would have global support and standards compliance, as more of our machines are utilized for production outside the U.S. today than at any time in the past.” Hungerford further noted that, while the axes of motion are relatively limited on his company’s machine lines, the high-tension maintained and the need for precise positioning of the cutting wire on this machine made it necessary to have the most accurate and durable motor and drive combinations available onboard.
Incorporating the Simotion motion controller, Sinamics low-voltage drives and Simotics S-1FK7 servomotors from Siemens gave ESCO not only the performance levels desired, but also the global application engineering, technical support and parts inventory benefits of this international supplier. “Our machines are in use around the world,” states Hungerford, “and we needed great confidence in our control package supplier’s ability to support the machines and our sales team with parts and service, everywhere in the marketplace. In Siemens, we found such a partner. Plus, their local representative here in Grand Rapids, Electro-Matic, had established a solid relationship with our company and my team.”
Functionally, according to Hungerford, the Siemens package allowed a single, common DC bus without stand-alone drives plus the system provided by Siemens is scalable to allow the cutting machine being interfaced with additional mechanisms and loading/unloading devices as part of an overall automated production line for customers. The PMIII-1530 is operated by a single PC plus a remote operator pendant that allows free movement with full operation control of the machine during setup.
In selecting and programming the proper components for the ESCO machine, Siemens and Electro-Matic Products provided an optimized solution using the Sizer and Simotion Scout software provided by the component manufacturer. Once all the parts are in-house, construction of this machine is typically achieved in approximately 30 days, according to Hungerford, as ESCO does the bulk of the framework and final assembly onsite at the Grand Rapids factory.
The operation of the machine (as shown in the photos) begins with the CAM programming software written by the ESCO engineering team, plus additional data programs made available through ASTM for pipe and tube configuration. Hungerford mused, “It’s sorta like Etch-A-Sketch, but hardly a toy. Our engineers can take the canned programs and quickly make the necessary adjustments to the cutting paths to suit the machine cutting capabilities and the workpieces our customers are producing.” The software program is vital in accomplishing both an effective cutting as well as optimum utilization of the raw materials, through the nesting of the parts in the master workpiece block, done by the computational algorithms in the program.
The workpiece is then loaded onto the vacuum table, the cutting head is positioned and the process begins. The material used by the ESCO customer, in this case, is Owens Corning Foamular®, a rigid polystyrene prepared in a tongue-and-groove configuration for industrial pipe insulation as the end product.
In operation, the motors, drives and feedback devices work in tandem to ensure a quick, smooth and efficient cutting of the material into the desired shapes.
The customer using the upgraded controls model of this ESCO machine is currently reporting a reduction in its cutting cycle times from 3½ hours to 20 minutes, according to Hungerford.
Commenting further about the drive performance, Wes Morgan of Electro-Matic noted that the Sinamics drive platform offered three distinct benefits. “The product line is consistent across a wide range of motor capacities, which is a real advantage for ESCO. Also, the regenerative feedback feature creates substantial energy savings for the end users, plus the Sinamics drives have a smaller footprint, owing to the dual motor modules and common DC bus system and this results in a more compact control cabinet.” He also noted the Simotion motion controller allows ESCO a single platform to perform simple axis to very complex integrated motion controls with a standard product, resulting in greater efficiencies in the design, programming and installation time for this builder and its customers.
On the second machine where ESCO implemented a controls upgrade, the HTX high-tension slitter/stacker incorporates a Simatic PLC, Sinamics variable frequency drives, Simotics servomotors, motor starters and contactors from Siemens. This machine, instead of a cutting wire, utilizes a tangential razor-like blade in a slit-and-retract motion, with the blade articulating on each pass through the material workpiece and then being automatically coated with silicone in the blade housing to maintain cut integrity.
The unit shown in the photographs here is the HTX 51-88 (indicating a 51” high x 88” wide x 132” long cutting zone), making ¼” thick cuts in a poly foam block. The machine is further capable of 1/8” cuts in production, as Hungerford noted. “This machine operates in tandem with other machinery we build, so the conveyor feed mechanism positions the workpiece for the cutting at the first station, then indexes it through the HTX to the next stations, where additional cuts and profilings are performed.
ESCO also produces vertical cutting machines, convoluters, roll splitters, contour cutting machines, metering and dispensing solutions for lab and production use, plus the company supplies fully integrated systems for polyurethane processing, including robots, curing ovens and mold designs to its worldwide customer base.
For more information on this story, please contact:
ESCO GROUP INC.
2887 Three Mile Road NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Attention: Rick Hungerford, Jr., President & CEO
SIEMENS INDUSTRY, INC.
GENERAL MOTION CONTROL
390 Kent Avenue
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Attention: John Meyer, Manager, Marketing Communications
Watch videos of these machines in operation! https://youtu.be/4lpQ22d7niM