Setup time optimization: How to make automated milling processes more effective
One thing is for sure: If you want to reduce setup times, you have to take into account the entirety of all efforts in terms of time in your calculation, and thus all main, auxiliary and downtimes. Technical solutions for automation should therefore be designed in such a way that they make handling as easy as possible for the operator BEFORE and AFTER use - in the milling process and everything that goes hand in hand with setting up a system. If you want to optimize setup times, it is therefore less relevant to look at the main time - i.e. all times of the actual machining of the workpiece - but above all at the secondary times. All non-value-adding tasks associated with setting up the milling machine add up under this variable, such as changing tools.
Anyone who is asking the question about optimizing setup times must also not forget one thing: In addition to all the preparatory work involved in setting up a milling machine, all the activities that have to be carried out to return a machine to the target state before the start of the job also incur costs. The cost of setting up a milling machine is also a major factor.
At LANG Technik, we have all processes in mind. With RoboTrex, we have developed a solution that enables intuitive operation thanks to a clever automation concept - the upright mounting of a huge amount of 5-axis vises - and thus already significantly reduces setup times. However, setup time optimization is not the only buzzword when it comes to automation and RoboTrex: Saving space is our second motto! For this reason, the design of the RoboTrex is so slim that the required footprint is just like the setup times: low.
The clever combination of both speed and flexibility makes us at LANG Technik a good address for all industrial manufacturers who want to get more out of their milling machines, even with staff shortages and full order books. And for all those who want to operate efficiently right from the setup of the milling machine. The good thing about it: RoboTrex offers a high degree of flexibility even against the background of reduced setup times and also has a high storage capacity. And in case you are not yet familiar with the concept: Here we have explained our idea of mobile storage trolleys for storing vises in detail.
As a hands-on expert, however, we also know that reducing setup times is only one part of the equation. Equally important are technical concepts that in no way involve increased training efforts for the operator, but instead enable every move to be made intuitively. The RoboTrex automation system does all this - it makes it easy for even unskilled personnel to optimize setup times. This is made possible by a pre-programmed system, a clear display and full access to the complete storage. This makes setup time optimization an uncomplicated matter that can actively take place in everyday production.
With our RoboTrex, we cover a very wide range of parts for milling: from series production of identical workpieces to single-part production. If you want, you can double its storage capacity by adding further automation trolleys, which has another positive - albeit indirect - effect on setup times. And what's more: The whole thing should be realizable independently of a machine? No problem - the automation trolleys can be loaded anywhere! Simply clamp a new workpiece in the vise, and you're done. High order volume? No problem either: take out the finished automation trolley and put in the newly filled trolley. No downtime, hardly any measurable setup times, maximum efficiency. By the way: Even inexperienced operators can load new parts in just a few steps. And if you're wondering how quality control works in the running process, as automation experts we provide quick answers here, too: Every trolley - and thus components such as vises - can be removed while the machine is running. You can see for yourself: When it comes to increasing efficiency and optimizing setup times, we also like to be very efficient.
Questions and answers
What components does RoboTrex consist of?
RoboTrex consists of a Fanuc industrial robot and trolleys that serve as storage media for LANG centering vices. The vises are inserted into the milling machine by means of a gripper and clamped in pneumatically actuated LANG zero point systems.
Which machine tools can be retrofitted with RoboTrex?
Just about any milling machine where the robot can get onto the machine table can be automated with RoboTrex.
How many vises fit on one automation trolley?
Depending on the size, up to 42 vses. With four trolleys in use, this means a capacity of 168 vises.