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Ever-growing need for production has resulted in companies looking for unique methods of manufacturing with faster production times, less human intervention and ultimately less cost.

Labour costs play a huge role in production and the faster a product can be produced, the higher the profits.

In sheet metal applications, this is a difficult target due to the various stages of production such as blanking, bending, welding, grinding, painting, assembly, testing and packaging. These various processes are each a headache on their own.

Beginning with the blanking process, the designer needs to have a good understanding of the completed product and its intended use or application. This person also needs to have a good understanding of the capabilities of the machinery being used as well as the materials being processed.

The automation process begins by use of a CAD draw

ing system. Rendering a 3D model in Amada’s Sheetworks 3D software, the full product can be viewed, operated / animated and broken down into single part items. This process eliminates trial production and the waste of materials, time and resources.

Ultimately, all proto-typing can be done on a PC in the 3D environment, while the customer can sign off for the start of production before a single part or sample is physically produced. The process from creating the drawing to tool fitting and programming is executed by a few clicks on the PC mouse. The automated system will then separate material types and material thicknesses, it will nest the parts according to the parameters set and will program it accordingly for the selected machine.

Once completed at the programming stage, the programs are transferred from the PC to the machine by employment of a job card with a bar code attached. The use of a bar code scanner at the machine control will instantly display the program and rendering it immediately ready for production.

The scanning of the bar code will ensure that production throughput is handled in the correct sequence, thanks to the programmer who creates a production schedule according to the importance of the work. Once ready to begin with actual production, there is an additional automation option for material storage and material handling, too. These systems (ASF-H or ASR tower storage systems) & MPL (material manipulation system) are capable of loading the raw materials onto the table of the machine, ready for production to begin. All of this is possible without the operator having to touch the sheet. Once the sheet has been processed, it is offloaded by means of the manipulator system. It then is either stacked on a pallet complete with skeleton and parts or it can be separated by means of a “TK” system. The TK system is ideal for the removal and sorting of cut parts from a nested sheet. This “picker” will remove each individual part by means of numerous suckers and will place them onto different stacking pallets – sorting parts for their next processes needed onto individual pallets. Different customers’ jobs that were nested onto the same sheet can now be separated and stacked individually without any human intervention.  X3

Bending can also be automated according to customers’ needs by utilizing Amada’s 3i Bend software and creating all bending programs from the initial drawing. Sequencing and tool fitting is done on the PC and trial bending on the machine is eliminated. The “teach” function on the control of the bender will assist and indicate the precise positioning of each tool as required, while prompting the operator through the bending process. In the case of the ATC (Automatic Tool Changer), the machine will automatically load and unload tooling as required for the job at hand. The ATC will drastically reduce setup times between jobs as it can load a full three meters of top and bottom tooling in just 3 minutes. Suddenly the small batch runs or single part production becomes a much faster process with far less down-time.

For long constant production runs, robotics are available to replace operators. The robotic benders are ideal for constant bending of the same parts or very large production runs. These systems are available from very small robotic systems on the EG press brakes, right up to the large – heavy duty press brakes handling parts that are too heavy for the operator.

Amada provides a total automation solution for all requirements from single sheet manipulation (MPL), to multiple sheet storage and manipulation (ASFH or ASR) to high volume sheet storage and manipulation (MARS). Everything is programmed through a central Amada data-base (VPSS3i) and fully backed by Amada’s dedicated service and applications teams.

For more information, please contact Amada – Tel: 011 453-5459.


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