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AUTOMATION


tax. It’s not easy, but it’s lined up exactly and completed. You can do the same thing on the manufacturing floor and have it integrated, and you can remove the human element that causes the error.”


Suica also cautioned that “most of the linear pallet and


robotic systems out there tend to be islands of automation. They know what they know and they’re not connected to anything else inside your operation. You may have an ERP [enterprise resource planning] package that tracks your orders, the intake of raw material, and so forth. You’ve spent a lot of money on tools, determining the tool offsets, and measurement systems. But the information flow between all these systems still ends up being manual.” This relative lack of integration prevents companies from achieving major savings in manpower. Suica said it’s not uncommon to have eight or nine machines running with just a few people if you fully integrate these systems. “We’re working on a system right now that has eight machines that will be manned by three people, one


of whom is just doing a check because they didn’t want to automate that. It will run two shifts, so there will be six people on that line, whereas now it’s 14 people. But you need a high level of systems integration to do that, otherwise you still need a bunch of people to tell the automation what to do. Integration and the software is key.” So is training and support, which is why DMG Mori, Makino, and others have dedicated automation teams and facilities. Software doesn’t solve everything, though. Baldizzi pointed out that mechanical reliability is absolutely paramount: “If you hook a machine—or more importantly multiple machines—to an FMS and it goes down, the spindle utilization of those machines goes down to zero. Remember, the place where the operator used to stand to load the horizontal machining center is now enclosed in the FMS. The pushbuttons are gone. There is very little chance of you being able to efficiently load and unload parts in that machine manually. So look under the hood to make sure that the FMS is mechanically capable of delivering that 90% up time.”


For high-quality builders, that includes running the


three-phase, high-voltage power through a buss bar above the vehicle, like the third rail of a subway, with no moving parts other than the contact point. “Less robust systems tether the vehicle to a series of cables in a cable track that follows the vehicle as it goes back and forth. This causes fatigue points as the cables are continually bending,” said Baldizzi. “Secondly, we use optical eyes enclosed in a tunnel for the data communications that have to occur between the servodrives, motors, control, and so forth, taking the need for those cables out of the mix.


“I would also look at whether the FMS has coolant channels, ducts and piping to make sure that any coolant that remains on the pallets once they go into storage is recovered and returned to either the machine coolant tanks or a central repository, rather than making a mess on your floor,” Baldizzi concluded.


? 74 AdvancedManufacturing.org | August 2017 DMG Mori 847-593-5400 / http://us.dmgmori.com


Doosan Machine Tools America 973-618-2500 http://www.doosanmachinetools.com Fastems LLC


513-779-4614 / https://www.fastems.com/


Liebherr Automation Systems 734-429-7225 / https://www.liebherr.com/ Makino Inc.


513-573-7200 / https://www.makino.com/


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