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Case Study Seven tonnes moving like an elegant sailing yacht, precisely on track

| Author / Editor: Michael Kiefer / Rosemarie Stahl

Engel Elektroantriebe, a manufacturer of customer-oriented synchronous motors, also provides integrated drives for low voltages with their HBI Series. When clamping technology specialist Witte was asked to build a heavy-duty mobile clamping system, they relied on drive units made in Walluf.

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With their compact design, the integrated drives of the Engel Elektroantriebe HBI Series are ideally suited for constructions with little room for motor installation - a crucial factor for fitting them into the Witte sandwich panels with a diameter of only about 300 mm.
With their compact design, the integrated drives of the Engel Elektroantriebe HBI Series are ideally suited for constructions with little room for motor installation - a crucial factor for fitting them into the Witte sandwich panels with a diameter of only about 300 mm.
(Source: Engel)

It seems gentle and nimble when picking up speed. It glides like an elegant sailing yacht carefully navigating a narrow marina. And despite a total weight of nearly seven tonnes, it barely makes a sound apart from a quiet whirring and the mandatory security beeping. This the biggest sandwich panel Witte has produced to date. And by utilising state-of-the-art control and drive technology, a construction team from the Lower Saxon company has turned it into a mobile heavy-duty clamping system that enables the precise fixation, secure transport and high accuracy positioning of workpieces weighing up to 2.5 tonnes.

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The Witte aluminium sandwich panel is equipped with variable grid systems and locating bushes and is a real success for the internationally renowned clamping technology specialists from Bleckede. It was first introduced in the early 2000s as a highly functional foundation for setting up equipment for clamping workpieces and has since been further developed – for example, into a remotely controlled support platform, a mobile base for measuring equipment or a driverless transport system. One of its principal areas of application is in quality assurance in the automotive and aerospace industries, where it is used for mounting particularly large workpieces for robot-assisted 3D measurement.

For example, the Witte sandwich panel makes it possible to steer whole vehicle body halves through various process stages without warpage or backlash, either in free movement or via routes set up with transponder technology. Often, the sandwich panel not only serves as a base for highly accurate and secure workpiece fixations for testing accuracy of fit or fitting capacity, but also as an intralogistics interface between measuring rooms and production lines.

"The technological charm of our sandwich panel is that it is not limited to a specific industry and has diverse options to customise it for a specific purpose. Therefore, almost every sandwich panel we deliver is a customised special solution," says Lutz Kathmann, responsible for the area of Construction KE 1 at Witte.

He further explains that usually the factors of workpiece and positioning accuracy, material flow optimisation as well as efficiency and mobility provide the framework for customer-specific solutions. This was also the case when engineers from Witte were commissioned by a well-known automotive manufacturer to build their largest mobile sandwich panel to date, with external dimensions of 8 x 2.4 m – and not only once, but nine pieces of it. The tops of these enormous sandwich panels are equipped with exactly 1,838 locating bushes arranged in a 100-mm grid in compliance with ISO tolerance js. They are intended for use as motor-driven and radio-controlled clamping and support units for quality assurance at a new plant producing small vans.

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