A new tube bending machine to increase production capacities: what began as a simple order ended in a huge increase in productivity and efficiency for our longstanding client ELB-Form. Our fully electric multi-radius tube bending machine CNC 80 E TB MR is ensuring extremely short cycle times for the Austrian experts for cold and hot forming. The key to this productivity gain is our intelligent NxG control system.
ELB-Form, an Austrian company based in Vandans (Vorarlberg), has to meet the high requirements of its customers from the automotive and aviation industries, among others. For the production of exhaust tubes and systems, the company is able to meet extremely tight tolerances – even with complex tube geometries for confined spaces. ELB-Form has particularly committed itself to customized production and highly punctual deliveries – requirements which it expects its own production partners to meet, too. That is why the Austrian experts have placed their faith in our tube bending expertise for more than 20 years. ELB-Form has been relying for quite some time on several CNC machines in various dimensions – predominantly for tube diameters of between 40 and 80 millimetres. In addition, the company recently required an additional machine due to an increase in capacity.
Huge gain in efficiency thanks to NxG control system
We designed the CNC 80 E TB MR for our loyal client, albeit with one crucial difference to the machines they were already familiar with: ELB-Form is now using a tube bending machine with NxG control for the first time. The benefits of Schwarze-Robitec’s intelligent NxG control system are plain to see. With several axes being operated simultaneously, the production time for each bending process is reduced by 20 to 40 percent depending on the component and the desired tube geometry. This is a major advantage for suppliers in the automotive industry, where turnover times are key. The factory acceptance test carried out for the machines demonstrated just how great the benefits are for ELB-Form. Depending on the component, tube geometry and programming, the new CNC 80 E TB MR bends tubes twice as fast as ELB-Form’s other models. It also offers even shorter turnover times in certain cases – the time required for a single bending process was reduced from 35 to 16 seconds for a specific application.
Synchronized operation of the axes
And how has such an enormous increase in efficiency been made possible? The intelligent NxG control system enables synchronized bending. For each bending sequence, the system automatically checks the interaction between all axes and ensures the movement sequences are optimally coordinated. This means that whilst a bending process is ongoing, the axes are already being prepared for the next sequences. The more complex the geometry of the tube to be bent, the more time is saved as a result of the axes moving simultaneously. The new machine is also helping ELB-Form to reduce production time thanks to faster tool changing times with the Quick-Tool-Unlock system. Whilst the resetting process usually requires mechanical connections to be loosened and tightened again for the new tool, the Quick-Tool-Unlock system enables quick and easy assembly and disassembly without any additional equipment. Although the actual changeover time after this stage remains the same, the process of opening and closing the tool only takes around 20 percent of the time it would otherwise take. In addition, the Quick-Tool- Unlock system has a positive effect on the bending result. Users no longer having to adjust the tensions bars them- selves – e.g. to make them tighter or looser – increases the level of repeatability and enhances process security.
Fulfilling individual client requirements
The NxG control system has featured a user management system with various authorization levels right from the outset. As users log in individually, they automatically gain access to the program functions they are authorized to use. We were able to fulfil a special request from ELB-Form in this regard. Instead of having to log into the control system manually by entering a password, ELB-Form employees can do so by simply using their personal chip, which they also use to clock in and out of work, for example. The tube bending machine is thus seamlessly linked to other internal company processes. However, the authorizations granted to individual users in the NxG control system also allow for program-related corrections – an additional requirement that ELB-Form tasked us with fulfilling. This means that if a problem arises during the bending process – e.g. relating to bending angle, tube transport or tube orientation – an employee with a lower authorization status would also be able to perform the necessary correction. This helps to prevent longer halts in production, for example during night shifts. The performed changes are displayed in the form of Δ values and can thus be identified retrospectively.
Impressed by the increase in productivity brought about by our CNC 80 E TB MR, ELB-Form has reviewed its production processes and is now planning to retrofit our NxG control system for an additional machine in its inventory. The metal forming experts can thus expect tube bending processes and subsequent tasks to be intertwined even more efficiently in future.