The automation of production processes is becoming increasingly important in the age of industry 4.0. This is particularly the case when it comes to the customised, intelligent production of tubes. As a result, we are faced with greater requirements which have an impact on our core business – tube and pipe bending – as well as all upstream and down- stream processes. Our many years of experience in the field of automation and our expertise as an automation partner in numerous projects mean that we are well-equipped for the task. In an interview, Schwarze-Robitec Managing Director Bert Zorn outlines the advantages of automation in the field of tube and pipe processing and discusses the latest requirements.
Mr Zorn, what are customers’ current requirements in terms of automated tube and pipe processing?
The requirements of customers are highly diverse. But we can essentially identify two typi- cal areas of application for automation. In terms of high-volume production, automated tube and pipe bending processes have been well-established for years now as a way of mass-producing as many components as possible. We are, however, witnessing growing de- mand for more flexible automation solutions as a result of the ever-increasing variety of components and variants. Companies are looking to produce many different components on a very small scale, while striving for an economical bending process.
What are the advantages of automation?
In contrast to manual production, tubes and pipes can be bent with high repeatability in an automated system. As the process steps are conducted safely and autonomously, the results are of a consistent quality. Another advantage of flexible automation solutions is the ability to integrate addition al processing steps into the systems, such as the cutting or washing of tubes and pipes – without losing any time. Because ultimately, automated systems work in cycles. Additional automated process steps lead to the process chain be- coming longer, but the cycle generally remains the same.
To what extent is automation in the tube and pipe bending process linked with a reduction in costs?
The fundamental prerequisite for saving costs is a system that is perfectly tailored to the requirements of the customer. The automated processes in the bending cell thus enable particularly efficient, error-free and fast series production. Only then can production processes be optimised in such a way that cost savings can be made.
Why is Schwarze-Robitec the right partner for this task?
Instead of delivering standardised systems, we specifically address the needs of the cus- tomer when developing our tube and pipe bending cells, tak- ing into account numerous in- fluencing factors. On the one ordinated numerous projects in this field similar to a general contractor. We assume overall responsibility for the automa- tion process.
What does that mean exactly?
With fully automated tube and pipe processing, the focus is primarily on the upstream and downstream processes as well as the actual bending process. Numerous processes, such as cleaning, finishing, end forming and measuring, can be integrated into the bending cell. We also integrate all handling equipment, such as robots and additional systems for tube feeding and tube removal. The more complex the system, the greater the requirements in terms of handling and control as well as network and peripheral connections. Our systems can be easily integrated into existing production chains and linked up with company networks. Our many years of experience in the field of automation mean that we are well-versed with the challenges of various industries and can therefore offer comprehensive expertise. Working in collaboration with our customers, we are able to develop the right solution for optimal and reliable production. We assume an advisory role for the entire duration of the project and also offer a comprehensive service when it comes to devising safety concepts, maintenance, and spare parts supply.
Mr Zorn, thank you very much for speaking to us.