Between October 21-25, the 23rd International Sheet Metal Working Technology Exhibition in Hanover will exhibit numerous solutions that are useful to the automotive industry
For EuroBLECH 2014, organisers will bring together over 1,400 exhibitors from more than 40 countries, in an enlarged exhibition area in Hanover. Over half the exhibitors will come from outside Germany, and the show promises both a clear focus and an international flavour. An event that exhibitors always take very seriously, EuroBLECH has established itself as the premier technological showcase for the sheet metal working industry, allowing visitors to find suitable machinery and smart solutions for modern production.
Measurement & control
Some of the most sophisticated technologies in the business are those involved in measurement and control. GOM offers specialised optical measuring systems for the sheet metal forming industries that are widely used in the production process. The company will show its range of non-contact sensors such as the ARAMIS system, which can be used to support numerical forming simulations by providing accurate material parameters including forming limit curves and flow curves.
The ATOS 3D scanners will also be of interest to the automotive sector as GOM’s systems and techniques are well established in inspection and evaluation processes for body-in-white (BIW); hole patterns, trimming spring back, gap flush dimensions can be measured and inspected in a fully automated production environment.
In Hall 12, PILZ and its partner EHP, a retrofitter of sheet metal working machines, will display a bending press equipped with the PSENvip camera-based protection and measuring system, along with the PSS 4000 Automation Fast Control Unit. Capable of monitoring and recording relevant control data from the bending process, the equipment is claimed to improve productivity by up to 30%; the company says it is the optimum solution for press brakes. The control system PSSuniversalPLC monitors dynamic muting and the speed profile during the braking process. The Fast Control unit allows responses and a safe shutdown in less than 1ms once the defined input has been activated.
Alpha Laser will be in Hall 16 to demonstrate its laser welding and laser cutting machines. With unique systems for mobile welding, the company is committed to serving a full range of enterprises, from major corporate clients to craftsmen involved in prototyping and specialised small batch production.
In Hall 13, Yaskawa Europe will present a new high-end DX2000 controller for Motorman robots. The controller offers more than 120 application-specific functions and will be of interest to all those using these robots for welding and handling tasks. Other new features include the safety-orientated bus systems and integrated safety controller. These enhance the efficiency of robotic workplaces with appropriate safety standards for interactions between robots and human operators. Using Multi-Robot technology, the DX200 can offer simplified integration of peripheral devices via corresponding bus interfaces. Up to eight robots or 72 axes can operate in synchronised activity, with increased robot density.
Material handling techniques have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. Companies like STOPA Anlagenbau play an important role in developing specialised solutions for a wide range of industrial environments. At EuroBLECH 2014, this company will display an innovative order-picking tower which pre-sorts metal sheets. By virtue of a suction crosspiece, the system can fetch individual sheets from their location, pre-sort for one-off production and place them in an order-picking pallet.
STOPA will be in Hall 11 and the order-picking technology will be accompanied by demonstrations of the STOPA Compact 11 automatic storage system; the company promises that visitors will also have the opportunity to view a range of other innovations.
The LBR iiwa Knight mobile robot concept, embodied in flexible robot cells, can support production as a roving multitasker during workload peaks and resource bottlenecks. Kuka calls this mode of working ‘spontaneous automation’ and will seek to convince visitors that it represents the assembly solution of tomorrow.
Activities that have previously been regarded as too complex and nuanced for traditional automation solutions to prove cost-effective can now be re-evaluated. Reproducible processes can be pre-formed with KUKA equipment to a high standard without the need for investment in dedicated equipment for specific models or components. This is of profound relevance to those involved in automotive production and colleagues will be keen to challenge KUKA representatives with specific production scenarios in order to hear their recommendations. Other areas that will be covered include advanced technology solutions using lightweight robots and intelligent sensors, linked to provide a flexible assembly solution. With order volumes in excess of €1 billion in 2013, KUKA is likely to attract significant attention with its presentations.
Energy cost reduction remains a focus for all industries, but the high costs which are still associated with metalworking are a continuing concern. Organisations are keen to look across the full range of their activities to identify room for improvement, and many of the exhibitors in Hanover will bring techniques and technologies designed to help drive down energy cost and usage.
Airco SystemDruckluft, for example, will look at on-site nitrogen production with PSAL/PSAL-NKat systems that are suitable for laser plants and promise significant cost savings for high-volume users. The company will emphasise the full range of its services with specification, sales and maintenance all within its compass.
Linde will also bring solutions relating to the gases used in welding, cutting and heating. Amongst the company’s products, visitors should explore the potential of its expanded range of LASGON process gases for laser welding of coated and uncoated steel body parts, as well as the new CORGON low-active shielding gas.
Partnerships with real results
While ArcelorMittal, like many exhibitors, has not yet confirmed the details of its presentations at EuroBLECH, the company is likely to showcase its innovative door-ring solution that has been developed with partners Honda and Magna Cosma to provide new levels of impact protection. Using a single-piece, hot-stamped, laser-welded door ring, the Honda Acura MDX exhibits significant weight savings whilst offering improved safety for its occupants.
The traditional multiple-part door ring is replaced by a single-piece design. Using ArcelorMittal’s Usibor 1500 hot-stamped aluminium, silicon-coated steel product, with an ultimate tensile strength of 1500MPa, the door-ring solution exemplifies the close cooperation necessary between designers, steel suppliers and material processors. ArcelorMittal will be keen to emphasise that innovative solutions of this kind have helped steel to retain its pre-eminent position as the material of choice in vehicle manufacturing despite lightweight alternatives.
Swedish steel-makers SSAB will also be at EuroBLECH. The company’s expertise with a range of high-strength steels (HSS) will be of interest to those from the automotive sector. Key issues such as the processing and cutting of HSS will be addressed. SSAB emphasises that its Hardox and Domex range of steels can be laser-cut with precision. In recent years, the ability to easily process, weld and bend such advanced steel grades has allowed the company to penetrate new areas of the market and have a positive impact on vehicle safety and enhanced efficiency. Uddeholm is also due in Hanover, and likely to feature its Superclean products: Uddeholm PM steels.
Bihler Machinenfabrick will be one of many machine-makers bringing new or updated products to the show. Bihler will introduce a new generation of GRM-NC stamping and forming machines. Designed to be compatible with existing tooling from the GRM series, the new machines are completely servo-controlled and benefit from the intuitive control technology of VariControl VC1. With rapid tool-change capability, the equipment allows customers to react to fluctuating demand patterns with minimal downtime. Time-intensive tasks such as adjusting material feed and positioning slide units can now be performed in minutes using VC1. Bihler’s BIMERIC SP servo production system will also feature in the display in Hall 27, Stand D54.
Schuler is likely to feature its new, fourth-generation Crossbar Robot 4.0, which is designed to automate conventional mechanical and hydraulic press lines. The robot can remove up to four parts at a time form the die, change orientation where necessary, and place them directly in the next die. With an operating speed of up to 15 parts per minute, the Crossbar Robots have applications in a range of production environments and can be retrofitted to existing lines in a cost-effective manner. Equipped with intelligent networking capability, the robots can monitor processes and report errors via a process data interface.
Hot tips from welding experts
Welding specialists Cloos Schweisstechnik will come to EuroBLECH 2014 with their range of manual and automated welding equipment. Among the company’s presentations will be an enhanced Tandem Weld system as well as a new generation of inverter power sources. The 200 sq.m Cloos booth in Hall 13 will include demonstrations of new manual welding machines as well as sophisticated automated solutions for a wide range of industries. The company hopes its new QRH-280 welding robot will prove to be a highlight of the show.
Panasonic will be another supplier keen to capture the interest of colleagues from the automotive sector, with products such as the recently introduced TAWERS Aluminium MIG welding system. The solution avoids welding spatters due to an ‘Active Aluminium’ process which reverses the welding wire during operation. Reduced rework, enhanced weld quality and minimised downtime are just some of the benefits. Panasonic’s TM series welding robots are also sure to attract visitors. Building on the strengths of the company’s earlier robots, these machines offer improved path accuracy and a 22% increase in main axis speed, thus reducing cycle time.
Another presentation of interest to the automotive sector will come from Siempelkamp, with a new press line for hot forming of press-hardened components. As a specialist in the provision of complete press lines, including automation technology and process monitoring, Siempelkamp has extensive experience within the auto sector. Working with subsidiary Strothmann, Siempelkamp can provide a complete material handling solution which enables the automation of all downstream processes. Specialised presses for body and chassis parts are another element of Siempelkamp’s activity. They can be used as single-purpose presses for chassis members, or as universal presses. Linked with sophisticated moving beam guidance and integrated material handling systems, they can offer increased output and prolonged tool life.
These presentations are by no means all that EuroBLECH 2014 has to offer; as always with events of this kind, much of the benefit for attendees will lie in chance encounters and the stimulation of observing alternative ways to approaching ongoing challenges. This year’s show looks set to bring real benefit to visitors and exhibitors alike.