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The new robotic storage for the automatic configuration of slitting blades is a technological leap that improves the productivity of slitting lines.
Difficulties in finding skilled labor and the need to be increasingly competitive in the coil slitting line market are driving the growing level of automation in the sector.
In order to provide a solution to this need Fagor Arrasate has developed a robotic storage for the automatic configuration of slitting tooling for slitting lines, called Fagor Arrasate Slitter Tooling Robot (FASTR).
This new development improves the productivity and profitability of these lines by saving labor, avoiding assembly errors, and reducing the time required for the operation.
A calculation software manages the assembly to be carried out by the robot, which, together with the identification and control system of each element, guarantees the accuracy of the correct assembly of the tooling on each occasion.
Regarding the quality of the final product, the robot also maintains cutting precision thanks to its automatic edge inspection system and tool washer.
The robotic storage also represents an important advance in terms of safety and ergonomics, as machine operators do not have to handle the cutting tooling.
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The system manages all the elements mounted on the axes of the circular shear to cut the sheet metal, such as: knives, separators, spacers, rubber bands, stop rings and edge guides. The robot accumulates the elements in a buffer and once they are all ready, it places them on the rotating turret arm. The robot can prepare a set of tooling for a 2,000 mm (78 in) arm in an average of 25 minutes, and an additional 6 minutes are needed to load it on the arm.
The tool storage is a rectangular structure 7m (275 in) long, 3m (118 in) wide and 3.5m (137 in) high. A total of 150 tool support pins are arranged on the two side walls along the length of the storage, distributed in five heights. Each pin can store 400mm (15 in) of tooling and 150kg (330 lb) in weight.
All cutting tools have a laser engraved identification number. This identifier allows to visually verify the position of each tool within the magazine and matches the identification indicated in the database of the control PC. Additionally, the tooling can have a Matrix code so that the identification of the tool number can be done automatically.
The system control has the position of each tool always updated; it can be on a shelf, on the loading robot, on a turret arm or outside the storage for maintenance.
The magazine is equipped with an automatic knife edge inspection system. When the knives exceed the production meters set in the control, they are sent to the inspection station to check the condition of the cutting edge.
A felt wipes the edge and then the control sensor will be placed in a working position and the knife will rotate one full revolution with the sensor checking the edge.
Both knife edges are checked and depending on the measurement, the quality of each knife will be calibrated and assigned in the tool database. Depending on the category of the cutting edge, the blades will be stored in different racks.
The robot is equipped with an inspection area for operators, with a rotating wall and equipped with 4 pins. In this station, in addition, operators unload and load tools by hand into the magazine.
The control PC is equipped with an assistant for calculating cutting setups. The system optimizes the number of tools used, considering the thickness to be cut and the characteristics of the material, as well as guaranteeing the specified cutting widths.
The preparation of the tooling setup will depend on the tools available in the storage. It considers the tools in production, those in the turret, those in the washing machine, those in edge inspection and manual inspection, and those on the warehouse pins.
The system has a washing unit for the tooling, located outside the magazine, connected by 2 pins. When a tool exceeds the production set to be cleaned, the tool is discharged on one of the pins of the cleaning station.
The cleaning system includes a first washing tank and a second passivation tank to apply a film to protect the tools from corrosion. Cleaning is performed by ultrasonics and the tools are air-dried.
Once the tools are clean, the pins are returned to the magazine and the robot loads the cleaned tools on their default pins. The cleaning cycle takes about 20 minutes.
The tool loading maneuver in the magazine can be done in two ways: