SCHUNK gripper plays a central role in AMRC Wales opening ceremony
In December, the University of Sheffield officially opened its Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC Cymru), a £20 m state-of-the-art research and development facility in North Wales. As a member of the AMRC, SCHUNK UK played an integral role in the opening ceremony, holding the ceremonial ribbon with a SCHUNK gripper for Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford to cut it.
Described by Welsh government ministers as a ‘game changer’ for the economies of Wales and the Northern Powerhouse, the AMRC Cymru is a purpose-built research and development facility close to the Airbus wing-manufacturing plant in Broughton.
It was officially opened by First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford and Economy and North Wales Minister Ken Skates, who accompanied Professor Koen Lamberts, president and vice-chancellor at the University of Sheffield, on a tour of the new building to see the new technologies that will be available to manufacturing companies across Wales.
Situated in the Deeside Enterprise Zone, the facility will operate from a 2,000 square metre open access research area focus with a focus on advanced manufacturing sectors such as the aerospace, automotive, nuclear and food. This region has a strong manufacturing base and AMRC Cymru will build on this, driving world-class research and expertise across the supply chain. It is predicted the new facility could increase Gross Value Added (GVA) to the Welsh economy by as much as £4 billion over the next 20 years.
Holding the ceremonial ribbon for the First Minister was a SCHUNK Co-act gripper attached to a Kuka Cobot that was mounted on a Kuka AGV. The new SCHUNK EGH Co-act gripper is the latest addition to the SCHUNK Co-act gripper family and is a flexible system for gripping and moving of small to medium-sized workpieces in the areas of handling, assembly and electronics.
The long stroke of the SCHUNK EGH Co-act gripper can cover a very wide range of workpieces, as the gripper fingers are particularly suited for positioning over the entire stroke. The robust parallel movement of the fingers ensures constant gripping force at a position over the entire stroke. Quick and easy to assemble, there is no height compensation required for the robot. The design of the SCHUNK EGH Co-act gripper enables the gripper to be attached to the robot quickly and easily as the included adapter plate is attached to the robot flange using the supplied fastening material. Subsequently, due to the assembly quick-release fastener, the gripper can rapidly be attached to the adapter plate with the enclosed hexagon socket wrench.
The final step is to establish the electric connection and a starter kit is available for quick and easy installation of the SCHUNK EGH Co-act gripper. This contains all the necessary components to successfully mount the gripper onto the robot and to put it into operation. In essence, the new system offers long and freely programmable stroke for flexible workpiece handling with a gripping movement that incorporates parallel kinematics for constant gripping force over the entire stroke length.
With fast commissioning, programming and simple use of an intelligent servo gripper due to the ‘Plug & Work’ starter package, the SCHUNK EGH Co-act gripper offers optionally attachable flexible fingers for increased flexibility. This also increases the gripper’s range of application.
Best-in-class 5-axis machining
Photo courtesy of Schunk GmbH
Walter GB and Schunk Intec combine to provide aerospace specialist with innovative wing rib machining solution
Tooling expert Walter GB joined forces with workholding specialist Schunk Intec to host a customer innovation day to showcase best-in-class 5-axis aerospace machining at the Knowledge Transfer Centre in Sheffield.
A packed audience of aerospace production specialists not only learnt about how the companies’ new tooling and workholding innovations could bring substantial benefits to the machining of aluminium wing ribs, but they could also see the results for themselves in the adjacent AMRC with Boeing Centre where a demonstration part was machined on a Starrag Ecospeed machining centre. (The Ecospeed is one of eight Starrag machines in-situ at the AMRC and the accompanying Nuclear AMRC.)
Jim Dale, Walter’s component manager, Business & Application Development, outlined the distortion and machining challenges presented when producing one-hit finishes and tight corners, for example, on such aluminium workpieces with wall thicknesses that may be only 1.5 mm thick and corners with 6 mm radii.
“Developing and supplying ‘pre-set’ tooling packages to suit many different machining platforms and processes is one of the strengths of Walter’s Engineering Kompetenz strategy,” he says. “In terms of our aerospace customers, it is successfully being applied globally to titanium and aluminium structures, as well as to engines and landing gear programmes.”
The sample wing rib, measuring 1,500 mm long, 280 mm wide and 80 mm high, with pockets up to 50 mm deep, was jointly designed by Walter and Schunk Intec to specifically show the ability of the companies’ tooling strategies and workholding technology in overcoming these difficulties in a controlled manner.
Jim Dale continues: “In addition to applying a number of new Walter milling cutters, including an innovative three-flute cutter and inserts with a newly-developed coating for extended tool life, together with Schunk Intec’s Vero-S Aviation system, we have arrived at the ideal solution.”
The Vero-S (a) pneumatic system enables all component stresses to be relieved between machining operations by simply releasing then re-clamping the workpiece in-situ without the need for separate setups. “Importantly, we wanted to achieve similar cycle times as if we were using a ‘fixed’ clamping system,” adds Jim Dale.
As a result, Walter has arrived at a ‘toolbox’ specifically to suit the Ecospeed and the workpiece in question, with pre-set feeds and speeds for the tooling to match the machine’s impressive 120 kW/30,000 revs/min spindle and the capabilities of its Sprint Z3 machining head.
“Developing and supplying ‘pre-set’ tooling packages to suit specific machining platforms and processes is one of the strengths of Walter’s Engineering Kompetenz strategy,” explains Jim Dale. “In terms of our aerospace customers, it is successfully being applied globally to titanium and aluminium structures, as well as to engines and landing gear programmes.”
Walter GB’s business development manager, Neil McKinnell says: “The event was a great success, taking into account we were addressing a niche part of the aerospace manufacturing industry.
“There is significant movement in the aerostructure machining sector, with regard to establishing best practice in line with projects aimed at next generation aircraft and we were able to show that we are fully aligned with these OEM and Tier One initiatives.
“We have received very positive feedback and significant interest in the machining strategies and tooling that were demonstrated.”
Likewise, Schunk Intec’s general manager, Marcel Machado, also comments favourably: “We couldn’t be happier. The event was a great opportunity to show a complex technology performing live. Attended by a highly technical group representing all the main names in the aerospace industry, the event was a true reflection of the work being performed at the AMRC.”
The demonstration wing rib in place on a Starrag Ecospeed, showing Walter tooling and the Schunk Vero-S Aviation system
Walter GB Ltd SCHUNK Intec Ltd
Tel: 01527 839450 Tel: 01908 611127
SCHUNK is investing 85 million euros in its production sites
With a broad-based investment program, SCHUNK is preparing for the next step of its global growth with around €85 million euros to be invested at locations in Brackenheim-Hausen, Mengen, St. Georgen and Morrisville in the USA by mid-2020. This will create around 42,000 square metres of additional production and administration space. It all starts with the US plant in the state of North Carolina, where the new buildings were officially handed over a few days ago.
In addition to the expansion of the production area, SCHUNK Intec USA created a generous new administrative building that, through its open architecture, encourages and inspires creativity and lateral thinking. In the newly created Customer Center, users can experience SCHUNK’s components live and receive additional know-how in technology forums and workshops. Under the motto “One Team – One Family – One Future”, the approximately 4,000 square meter new building expansion was inaugurated in early May with an official ceremony followed by a Family Day.
Alongside Managing Partner Heinz-Dieter Schunk and Chief Executive Officer Henrik A. Schunk, the President of SCHUNK Intec USA, Milton Guerry was enthusiastic about the opportunities that the investment offers for the future. Anthony Copeland, Minister of Economic Affairs of North Carolina, praised SCHUNK as a great example of a company that creates jobs and highlights the assets of North Carolina as a business location. The largest subsidiary of SCHUNK was founded in 1992 to ensure proximity to American customers and to the subsidiaries of German corporations. This strategy is a complete success; on-site production ensures short delivery times and high flexibility, especially when it comes to specific components that are produced specifically for the American market. Today, the USA site plays a leading role within the group of companies for the entire North and South American market. SCHUNK has invested a total of almost 10 million euros in the expansion of the site.
A boom in automation and digitalisation
In addition, 40 million euros are being put into the Competence Center for Gripping Systems in Brackenheim-Hausen, just five kilometres from the headquarters in Lauffen. The expansion covers an area of 22,000 square metres and represents a doubling of the existing production area. SCHUNK is investing another 30 million euros in the Competence Center for Lathe Chuck Technology and Stationary Workholding in Mengen, in the district of Sigmaringen. Here, 12,000 square metres are to be added for production, research, and development. 5 million Euros were invested at the St. Georgen site in the Black Forest, where the production area was doubled with an increase of 4,200 sq m. CEO Henrik A. Schunk, sees the total volume of 85 million euros as a consistent investment in the future of the company: “In the coming years, we will experience a boom in automation and digitisation worldwide and we’ll only be able to handle this by having the right capacities.”
For several years, SCHUNK has been successfully focusing on these two trends and concentrating its resources and know-how. Henrik Schunk expects high growth rates, especially for mechatronic and increasingly intelligent clamping devices and gripping systems. The innovative family-owned company employs more than 3,500 people and has been a pioneer and source of ideas in production automation for years. SCHUNK also recently announced its cooperation with AnotherBrain, one of the world’s leading specialists in artificial intelligence. SCHUNK’s customer base includes the Who’s Who of mechanical engineering, robotics, automation, and assembly handling, and all the renowned automotive brands and their suppliers. The company operates 34 directly owned subsidiaries and nine plants around the world.
SCHUNK introduces new general manager
After 18 years at the helm of SCHUNK Intec Ltd, Martin Kent has stepped down from his role as general manager to allow Marcel Machado to take the reins and continue Martin Kent’s exceptional efforts. As the new general manager at SCHUNK, Marcel Machado has arrived from leading machine tool and plastic injection moulding brand ROMI Machine Tools.
Marcel Machado graduated as a mechanical engineer from university in Brazil and was immediately accepted on the ROMI graduate training program and subsequently a management fast-track initiative. In 2011, Marcel Machado arrived in the UK to take the role as sales & technical manager at ROMI UK, soon graduating to the role of general manager in 2014. Following a period of rapid growth, and market penetration for the ROMI brand in the UK, the self-driven Marcel Machado desired a new challenge; and SCHUNK has delivered the perfect opportunity.
Commenting upon his new role at SCHUNK, Marcel Machado says: “I thrive on new challenges. The opportunity to work with a global leading brand like SCHUNK was too good to miss. Roles of such magnitude are generally only available when a company is in difficulty. However, Martin has done a fantastic job in growing the UK business; the SCHUNK brand and market penetration are particularly prominent and this is recognised in the sales performance, which is yielding year-on-year growth.
“I am extremely proud to be joining a company like SCHUNK and with year-on-year growth, Martin has certainly left some pretty huge boots to fill. Thankfully, Martin will be staying with SCHUNK in a managerial role and his expertise and support as we go forward will be critical to our continued success. My personal challenge is to keep a consistent pace of growth and intensify our efforts with regard to targeting new market segments, and building new relationships and sales networks, whilst not dropping-the-ball on the exceptional reputation the company has for service and support.”