AUTOMATICA 2014: Innovations from Assembly and Handling Technology

Variety Is the Order of the Day

Increasingly shorter product life cycles, smaller batch sizes, many variants: there is no question that assembly automation is undergoing a change. The suppliers of systems and components are reacting with pioneering innovations to these changes, as AUTOMATICA will show from June 3 to 6.

Indeed, producers are facing a number of decisive questions at the start of production planning today. A primary issue to clarify is how much automation should there be? In this context, the analysis of the product range to be manufactured and the required flexibility of the assembly solution are the decisive factors concerning the degree of automation. Difficult-to-foresee product life cycles connected with small numbers of pieces speak more in favor of manual or hybrid assembly systems. On the other hand, highly automated system solutions are always the first choice if a high number of product pieces is to be produced over a long life cycle.

Luckily for the manufacturers: If there is uncertainty in advance concerning these decision criteria as well as the success of a product, economic assembly systems can also be found today for requirements-oriented production. Leading manufacturers are exhibiting highly flexible, modular solutions at AUTOMATICA. These can be adapted flexibly to production needs, for example, in that linear transfer systems can be expanded to almost any extent, manual workstations replaced by automated ones, or upstream or downstream process steps automated.

"The creativity that manufacturers are putting into their assembly systems is impressive. As a result, users can start with low-cost automation solutions and adapt them step-by-step to increasing output rates if required. These "co-growing" assembly solutions are often the deciding factor for realizing especially innovative products, because they make production possible in the first place thanks to manageable investments," according to Patrick Schwarzkopf, Managing Director of VDMA Robotik + Automation.

Although traditional linear transfer systems are still the first choice when it is a question of optimum flexibility, completely automatic rotary transfers systems are the benchmark in matters of output. At AUTOMATICA, the latest systems of leading companies will break records and amaze trade visitors with capacities of 150 cycles per minute and more. Another novelty: Thanks to intelligent design, rotary transfer systems of the newest generation are considerably superior to their predecessor models not only in performance, but also with respect to flexibility.

Progress for all industrial sectors

Users from all industrial sectors can profit from the high performance level in assembly and handling technology. The companies are offering systems and components for all possible production environments from "rustic to clean room". There are not any restrictions for workpiece weights today either. The range shown at AUTOMATICA extends from micro-assembly to part weights of a ton. The trend to module formation is increasing weights by leaps and bounds, especially in the automobile industry. Of course, front-end modules, in which radiators and headlights are already integrated, are substantially heavier than bumpers of former times. The same applies to doors and cockpit modules, vehicle seats and lots more.

However, not only manufacturers are betting on module formation; manufacturers of assembly components are also employing this strategy on the other side. While selecting parts was a time-consuming matter in the past, in which up to 10 different parts had to be selected from different manufacturers with a lot of effort, this is much more user-friendly today. Today, the design engineer simply selects a complete functional module including pneumatic cylinder and valve, proximity switch, position sensing, bus interface and external sensor connection – finished. The trend to increased functionality in a product is of course not only limited to the example of those selecting parts, but is also continued in all areas of automation. The winners are the users who save time and money.

Focus on sustainability and energy efficiency

There is a great variety of possibilities to optimize energy consumption in assembly and handling automation. This starts with handling modules, continues via drive engineering of the systems and ends with quality assurance.

Of course, pneumatic handling modules are fast and inexpensive and consequently widespread. However, the use of electric modules is gaining strongly in popularity. Under which conditions which system is best used can be clarified at AUTOMATICA in talks with the companies present in great numbers. The question can also be clarified about how central or decentral drive engineering of transfer systems can influence energy efficiency decisively.

Harald Mikeska, VMT machine vision specialist from its beginnings, would like to remind all that quality assurance can also influence sustainability in production: "We can provide inline inspection procedures for many applications today, which immediately exclude expensive reworking or defect products without causing further production work. As a result, machine vision contributes decisively to efficiency and sustainability in addition to its primary goal of zero-fault production."

Numerous renowned machine visions system suppliers and component manufacturers will be represented at AUTOMATICA.

AUTOMATICA – International Trade Fair for Automation and Mechatronics

AUTOMATICA is an international trade fair, which covers all areas of robotics + automation in one event. It is the main meeting place for manufacturers and users of robotics, assembly and handling technology as well as industrial machine vision. AUTOMATICA has taken place on the grounds of the New Munich Trade Fair Centre every two years since 2004. The aim of the fair is to present the entire value-added chain in robotics and automation. Messe München GmbH and VDMA Robotik + Automation, trade fair industry advisor, are behind the industry-driven concept of AUTOMATICA. Exhibitor and visitor statistics for AUTOMATICA are audited by an independent auditor for the order of the Gesellschaft zur Freiwilligen Kontrolle von Messe- und Ausstellungszahlen (Society for Voluntary Control of Fair and Exhibition Statistics) and internationally by UFI (Global Association of the Exhibition Industry).

New Exhibition Area for Professional Service Robotics

AUTOMATICA 2014 will present a separate exhibition area for the topic of professional service robotics for the first time. As a result, AUTOMATICA is positioning itself as a business-to-business platform for professional service robotics and as leading trade fair for industrial robotics and professional service robotics under one roof. The focus is on saleable end products and components, which are used directly as capital goods. You can find details and news at:

Parallel Event

The trade fairs AUTOMATICA and MAINTAIN as well as the guest events Intersolar Europe and electrical energy storage are going to take place overlapping on the grounds of Messe München for the first time in 2014. Visitors can visit all four trade fairs using their respective admission ticket. Exhibitors are going to present innovations and trends from automation, mechatronics and industrial maintenance as well as the solar energy industry and energy storage under the motto "One Stop – Four Shows". You can find additional information at:

Messe München International

Messe München International is one of the world´s leading trade show companies. In Munich alone it organizes around 40 trade shows for capital and consumer goods, and key high tech industries. Each year more than 30,000 exhibitors and around two million visitors take part in the events held at the Messe München exhibition center, the ICM – International Congress Center München, and in the MOC Veranstaltungscenter München. The leading international trade fairs of Messe München International are all independently audited.

In addition, Messe München International organizes trade shows in China, India, Turkey and South Africa. With a combination of affiliates abroad – in Europe, Asia and in Africa – and over 60 foreign representatives actively serving over 100 countries, Messe München International has a worldwide business network. The Group also takes a pioneering role as regards sustainability: It is the first trade-fair company to be awarded energy-efficiency certification from the technical inspection authorities TÜV SÜD.

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