Automation solution Automating the daily grind: How robot and grinding machine work hand in hand
Germany — For German cutting tool specialist Bachert, an FX5 Linear grinding machine with an integrated AR300 Scara loading robot from Anca has increased productivity.
In the business of sharpening cutting tools, constantly changing diameters and tool types are the order of the day. To increase productivity in its regrinding service and in the manufacture of special tools, Dieter Bachert Werkzeugschleiftechnik was looking for a suitable automation solution. The company found the ideal answer in the form of an Anca FX5 Linear tool grinding machine with an integrated AR300 loader.
End mills, conical end mills, shell end mills, shell end roughing mills, side milling cutters, circular metal saws, taper and face countersinks, T-slot cutters, prismatic cutters, NC spot drills, twist drills and reamers – Bachert Werkzeugschleiftechnik has fixed them all. The family business from Baltmannsweiler, near Stuttgart in Germany, grinds and repairs a wide variety of standard tools made of solid carbide, tungsten carbide and HSS. In addition, the firm also manufactures and repairs carbide-tipped special tools.
Owner Dieter Bachert, himself a trained toolmaker, has continuously expanded the company since 1999. Today, Bachert Werkzeugschleiftechnik is known in the region and beyond for its high-quality work and individual customer solutions. To further grow the business and increase productivity, Bachert was looking for an automation solution, specifically for tool loading. At EMO 2019, he found what he was looking for.
With the Loadermate software, we can programme each pallet position or use one programme for several tools in succession. This allows us to sort tools by diameter or tool type, or keep a customer’s tools together.
Seen, convinced and bought at EMO 2019
“We’ve had an RGX from Anca in our production since 2001, and it continues to deliver reliable production results despite its age,” says Bachert. “That’s why I specifically looked around the Anca booth at EMO.” At the show, Anca had just unveiled the new AR300 Scara robot, its new automation solution for small batch regrinding and random loading.
“This solution is tailor-made for the requirements of our regrinding operations,” Bachert explains. “We offer a pick-up and delivery service for resharpening, repair and replacement of cutting tools. It’s in the nature of things that we have to deal with a large variety of different cutting tools on a daily basis. With the new AR300 automation solution for small mixed batches, we can load tools from different customers at random and leave the machine running unattended.”
At EMO 2019, the AR300 Scara robot was on display integrated into an Anca FX5 Linear tool grinding machine. This combination was just right for Bachert, so he ordered the machine before leaving the show. Anca installed it soon after, making Bachert Werkzeugschleiftechnik the first company in the world to use the new Anca AR300 robot loader.
Perfect for processing small and mixed batches of tools
With its spindle power of 9.5 kW and automatic two-station wheel changer, the FX5 Linear enables the machining of different tool types with multiple discs, making it perfect for small and mixed batches. The cylindrical Linx linear motors combined with the linear scales provide extremely smooth movement along both the X and Y axes. Because they are non-contact drives, there is no wear, and Linx is also largely immune to temperature fluctuations. All this helps to ensure high overall accuracy, and hence precise tool grinding with consistently good surface quality. Thanks to the high axis speed and acceleration, cycle times are also reduced.
Andreas Sommer, product manager for the FX series at Anca, says: “The FX5 Linear already offers a good level of automation thanks to the wheel changer, for example, and several different loading options to meet the requirements of increased productivity. Add in the automatic collet loading made possible by the AR300, and the result is great flexibility for regrinding different tools with different diameters and tool types in one setup.”
Any tool programmable at any location in the pallet
The loader robot’s great flexibility is made possible not least by the user-friendly Loadermate software, which eliminates the need for complex robot programming. The machine and loader are seamlessly integrated, so that control takes place directly via the machine’s operator interface. This allows the user to programme any tool at any location in the pallet. Different tool sizes and types can be used in the same batch. This allows the user to quickly and easily produce a range of different profiles and shapes, without any special programming experience. Says Dieter Bachert: “The amount of tools we resharpen these days would be impossible to handle with manual loading. Yet the different tools and the grinding requirements in my tool room are different every day. With the Loadermate software, we can programme each pallet position or use one programme for multiple tools in a row. This allows us to sort tools by diameter or tool type, or keep a customer’s tools together.”
Unattended running increases productivity
This additional functionality frees up valuable capacity during regular working hours for administrative tasks or for grinding special tools on the other machine. Thanks to automation, the FX5 Linear also runs through the lunch break. “In addition, we now load the machine more and more often before the end of regular working hours,” says Dieter Bachert. “This allows the machine to run unattended for a few hours without incurring additional labour costs, which increases the company’s productivity and sales.”
On the FX5 Linear, Bachert Werkzeugschleiftechnik uses Nikken NK20 or KM20 collets. “Each tool has its own collet with which it is inserted into the pallet,” explains Andreas Sommer. “With one handle, the AR300 loads the tool and collet together into a Schaublin B32/45 collet adapter. This increases productivity and machine performance, and leads to a quick return on investment and higher profits. The capacities are also impressive,” Andreas Sommer continues. “With the collets Bachert uses, tools with diameters of 3 mm to 16 mm can be loaded, and with the NK20 even tools up to 18 mm in diameter. In this case, the pallet then has a maximum capacity of 30 tools.”
The combination of the FX5 Linear with the AR300 provides Bachert Werkzeugschleiftechnik with an intelligent solution for low-staff production, which has also been quickly and easily integrated into existing production due to its compact dimensions. The flexibility in loading mixed tool batches, with a loading cycle of approximately 25 seconds, was able to significantly increase productivity.