EMO 2021 Improve your machine tool efficiency and precision with integrated system solutions
Germany — According to Schaeffler, there are currently two key trends affecting users and manufacturers of machine tools and metal machining centers: the growing use of ancillary automation solutions and the increasing integration of multiple production processes within machine tools themselves. Therefore, the company is constantly developing and refining its portfolio of products and services for machine tools to help customers keep up with these trends.
Automation solutions can help to dramatically reduce the time taken for machine setup and auxiliary processes. Examples of this include the trend towards larger machine tools and the use of handling systems to link multiple independent machines. Manufacturers are also increasingly using articulated-arm robots, which can be mounted on linear axes to perform tasks such as loading and unloading magazines and machine tools. “This market is growing steadily and driving increasing demand for rolling bearings, linear guideways and integrated systems and services. Schaeffler has state-of-the-art products to meet this demand,” said Ralf Moseberg, head of Industrial Automation at Schaeffler.
Combination turning and milling machines are another steady growth area. For the rotary tables used in these highly dynamic machining centers, the manufacturer offers a range of high-performing bearings, including variants with integrated angle measuring systems and direct drives. According to the company, the rotary table bearings differ from competitor brands in several respects, most notably their higher tilting rigidity (up to 30 percent) and very low friction values. For machine manufacturers, this increases rotary table rigidity and speed and reduces thermal influences. End users of these machines benefit from enhanced machining performance, faster cycle times, and improved accuracy and surface finishes.
Growing use of multi-function machine tools
Machine tools that comprise multiple functions or machining technologies are a highly attractive proposition from a TCO standpoint, but they present greater challenges in terms of the rolling bearings needed for spindles, feed drives and linear axes. “They require rolling bearings that are resistant to contamination by hard particles and have reliable, low-friction sealing systems that can be adapted for the various machining processes involved,” said Moseberg. “At EMO 2021, Schaeffler will be presenting its latest solutions to these challenges, including products that incorporate our RUE-F next-generation linear recirculating roller bearing and guideway assemblies.”
The RUE-F assemblies have been engineered to use significantly less lubricant, which lowers their operating costs as well as protecting the environment. This in turn reduces the costs associated with lubricant contamination, particularly in machines that use cooling lubricants. In addition, the improved kinematics of the return geometry in these assemblies enables the machine tool to produce much better surface finishes.
Digitalisation for machine monitoring and increased uptime
The German manufacturer offers a range of products that are less complex and less expensive than conventional machine tool monitoring solutions. Schaeffler Spindle Sense, for example, is a system that measures main spindle displacement, allowing main spindles to be operated safely at maximum load. Schaeffler Dura Sense, a monitoring solution for feed axes, ensures precise lubrication according to actual requirements and enables analysis of machine states, thereby preventing unscheduled downtime and increasing plant availability.
Users can retrofit their existing machinery with Dura Sense functionality simply by installing Dura Sense sensors on the carriage in the monorail guidance system. This is a low-cost way to digitalise existing plant and machinery so as to benefit from increased uptime and productivity.
The company also offers a portfolio of condition monitoring and relubrication systems that provide operators of machines and entire manufacturing facilities with a reliable and cost-effective means of monitoring and automatically relubricating standard machines and drives as well as machine tools. Schaeffler itself uses these kinds of solutions in its own manufacturing processes, for example to monitor high-load grinding spindles in grinding machines.