Flexible production cell featuring bending robots and encoding by transfluid

19th February 2018

Flexible production cell featuring bending robots and encoding by transfluid

When the requirements are complex, a solution is required that provides dynamic and diverse results, like in the case of transfluid Maschinenbau GmbH’s current project. The specially developed automation system bends 6m long pipes with small diameters at a consistently high speed. Simultaneously, the transfluid production unit is capable of producing shorter pipelines of 500mm featuring diverse bending geometry in large quantities. Handling the coated pipes during the process is also demanding. Due to the sensitive surfaces, special care and treatment are required during processing.

To ensure that production can be implemented safely, quickly, and thoroughly, transfluid has equipped two robots that are used as bending machines with different magazines. One magazine is a so-called “chain conveyor”. It guides long pipes to the bending robot. According to the markings placed on the pipes by the encoding beforehand, the robots are able to detect which geometries need to be produced. In this case, they are capable of bending a long pipe from one side to the centre. Following processing, the workpiece is placed on a slide.

The bending cell also possesses a separate step conveyor. This feeds in short pipe lengths, including two different pipes if this is required. Depending on the case at hand, each robot processes a different geometry or pipes with another diameter. This enables a large series of short components to be processed efficiently at the same time. Long components can be processed just as effectively.

“An additional challenge for the development of our solution was that all the pipes have previously formed ends on both sides or they already have cutting rings mounted,” explains Stefanie Flaeper, General Manager at transfluid. “With robot technology, bending geometry may be started at an extremely short distance from the bend on both previously mounted ends. And the process, i.e. preparing the ends first and then bending, is able to be implemented consistently for any pipe with this bending technique.”
This makes pre-processing of the ends significantly cheaper and faster. Because of this process, there are no geometric limitations, and the pipe can be sealed beforehand with caps. This makes it immediately available for use after bending.

In addition to flexibility, an additional strength of the automation system offers another advantage that cannot be underestimated: The robots do not need to be programmed. As with any conventional bending machine, the necessary data may be loaded into the bending robots with a data file directly from the CAD system and transformed into a bending geometry. This makes the psychological barrier raised by programming a thing of the past. The systems can also be linked online with all relevant measurement systems.

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