The constantly increasing variety of vehicle models in the automotive industry along with smaller production quantities requires a dramatic increase in flexibility of production lines including the robots, fixtures, handling devices, etc.
Following the new trend of light construction and modern designs, joint applications such as welding, riveting, gluing, drilling and clinching are constantly increasing.
Even robots reach their boundaries
Constant industry modifications and improvements require automated production lines to
become more and more flexible. In order to insure that the production line is utilized to the fullest extent, several different vehicle models have to be run through one assembly line. It is therefore necessary to immediately implement changes in the production process. Even robots reach their boundaries! Although robots are flexible as far as programming, due to the equipped hardware, there are limits to the possible applications. This can be resolved through the use of tool changers.
Automatic Tool Changers
Automatic tool changers are a key element to increase flexibility in production automation for all sorts of processes. This is especially true where robots are required to perform multiple tasks.
For this reason Stäubli - using its wide spread knowledge and 50 years of experience in
connecting solutions - has developed a complete line of modular products which allows the user to cover almost every application or task. Even a retrofit of an existing line can be done easily and without problems.
Modularity - the key to flexibility
The key to any tool changer system is a extremely fast and secure locking device. It has to safely handle all the dynamic forces which occur through the movement of the robot as well as the geometry of the tools. A constantly increasing demand for more quality requires the tightest possible tolerances as well as increased reliability throughout the lifetime of the product.
A highlight of the Stäubli tool changer is a locking device which can be operated either pneumatically or electrically. Both systems are capable of handling the same tools. Therefore it is possible to move away from extremely costly energies such as compressed air to an all electric solution.
Through modularity, the system developed by Stäubli is easily adjusted to new technologies which are required by a changing market. Modules are available for different tasks and can be replaced or added at any time.
Know-how minimizes the total cost
Stäubli is the only international supplier that develops and manufactures components such as compressed air, fluid and electrical connectors in house. Worldwide, the environmental conditions require the highest possible quality and knowledge to guarantee functional reliability.
Stäubli develops their components for maximum efficiency. These are application and also while focused on follow-up costs.
Compressed air and fluid connectors for tool changer systems are available in 3/8" and 1/2". They should be leak free and also allow for maximum flow with minimum pressure drop. The advantage is a considerably lower cost of operation for maintenance or the loss of energy caused by leakage.
With electrical connectors, resistance during connection is always an issue. In order to reduce the transition resistance and therefore the produced disturbance or reduced performance through heat development, it is imperative that electrical connectors connect perfectly each time. Stäubli's sister company Multi-Contact, did this to perfection with their patented Multilam® design. Several million connection cycles are nothing out of the ordinary for these electrical connectors, which handle a load of up to 200 Amps at 690 Volts. Driven by the market requirements for extremely reliable electrical connectors, a new design of the housings allows for signal and power transfer through one electrical connector. A quick change of worn components without disconnecting the main cable reduces maintenance time and therefore cost.
Hydraulic couplings have to be absolutely leak free for high pressure applications! When dealing with lighter metal construction, hydraulic oil can be harmful to the coupling parts: This requires follow up treatment, which therefore increases the cost and time consumption. The goal is to avoid this situation. The SPC coupling series designed by Stäubli, guarantees leak free operation through special sealing. Connection and disconnection is possible even under a certain amount of residual pressure. These couplings are available in 3/8" and 1/2" nominal diameter with a maximum operating pressure of 320 bars.
Complete Solutions - a well dressed package
In addition to fully developed components, Stäubli also offers docking stations which in conjunction with the installed safety system, protects the user from inadvertently unlocking and damaging the system. A "floating bushing" utilizing ball bearings is integrated into the docking station and allows a wider tolerance when docking or un-docking tools. This reduces wear on all guiding elements, locking units and coupling components. The result, which can only be measured over time, will reflect the reliability and efficiency of the components.
Market Support - Worldwide
A true benefit for the market is the global presence of our Stäubli team of product and service specialists. User input is also very important to Stäubli! Our Connectors Division in Bayreuth, Germany, is responsible for further development of the tool changer series and is constantly utilizing our relationships with leading system integrators and end users, to assist us in further developing and optimising our products.