Hermle launches low-cost automated workpiece handling system

Three- to five-axis CNC machining centres manufactured by the German company, Hermle, can be equipped with a new, automated workpiece handling system that requires low capital investment. UK and Ireland agent, Kingsbury, says that the equipment can be factory fitted or retrofitted to machines already in use.

Hermle has been automating its machining centres for almost 20 years and has gained much experience along the way. The latest handling system, called HS flex, is applicable to the company’s C 12, C 22, C 32 and C 42 machining centres, the latter having a working volume of 800 x 800 x 550 mm. It can also automate the latest C 250 and C 400 machines, which are of equally high quality but lower priced owing to the availability of fewer options.

HS flex, which occupies a small footprint at the front of the machine to which it is interfaced, is supplied as a single freestanding unit. The user can, therefore, start automated production with little delay, particularly as Hermle machining centres are also delivered pre-assembled.

The multi-level storage module, positioned to the left of the machine, can be customised to contain six or eight pallets up to 500 x 400 mm, 20 pallets of size 240 x 320 mm, or a number of alternatives in between.

There is the option of a second, identical module positioned at 90 degrees to the first at the front of the HS flex, doubling the number of positions for pallets. They enter the system via a set-up station to the right-hand side, where safety measures prevent the access of workpieces that are too tall.

Both pallet modules are served by a 3-axis handling unit with rotary, lift and linear motions mounted on a flat, mineral cast platform. A pallet is transferred either from the set-up station or one of the store positions into the machining area, then back again after the cycle is complete.

Maximum weight capacity of the pallet, fixture and workpiece is from 300 to 450 kg, depending on pallet and machine size. Double doors prevent operator access during pallet change but are released during machining to enable a good view of the working area.

HS flex is controlled and managed using Hermle’s proprietary Automation Control System, which enables smart order management by means of a touch panel, minimising downtime and maximising the machine’s productivity. When combined with the Hermle Information Monitoring System, which displays machine status in real time on a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer, Industry 4.0 requirements are met.

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