Automated manufacturing cell a quantum leap towards Industry 4.0

Author / Editor: Uwe Becker, UBCOM / Barbara Schulz

Germany – When Germany-based tool and mould-making company 3D-Schilling was looking to invest in a new EDM machine, the company decided to go for a fully automated manufacturing cell, including a linear robot, EDM and HSC machines. The investment was a quantum leap for the family business.

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The automated production cell more than doubled 3D-Schilling's productivity in the first year of operation.
The automated production cell more than doubled 3D-Schilling's productivity in the first year of operation.
(Source: Exeron)

Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things and other for many companies still abstract concepts are omnipresent these days. Many are talking about it, but not too many are actually going for it. However, there are some companies within the tool and mould making industry who are re-booting their factories for the digital age, taking up a pioneering role. One of them is Germany-based 3D-Schilling, which specialises in engineering services, prototyping, tool and mould making and the manufacture of injection-moulded parts.

Decision for a fully-automated manufacturing cell

Triggered by a visit to Exeron's showroom in Oberndorf, Germany, company owner Martin Schilling changed his mind to “just” buy a new EDM machine; a transfer line with an integrated robot caught his eye. “I thought this idea was terrific, basically having all data ready, being able to send the start signal at any given time to the manufacturing cell – and to know that it processes the jobs autonomously.” As a result, a fully automated manufacturing cell was conceived by Schilling, Exeron and Erowa (for details, see info box), including ten machines and a linear robot. Data management, manufacturing control and monitoring are managed by a job management system (JMS) by Certa. The electrode holders and workpiece pallets are equipped with ID chips for clear identification.

The manufacturing cell's design is flexible, so that any machine could be removed from the line to use them separately, for instance if large parts have to be machined that cannot be handled by the integrated robot due to their weight. For this purpose, Schilling installed a crane in the hall.