Motion Control & Drives


Reduced set-up times thanks to automated actuators

August 2014 Motion Control & Drives

Fischerwerke, a German company that provides fixing systems, automotive systems, and process consulting services worldwide, recently switched sections of its packaging production over to the Siko AG05 actuator. Using approximately 50 actuators of the AG05 series, Fischerwerke was able to reduce the line set-up times from 45 to less than five minutes. In addition to the low weight and small installation size, the customer was particularly impressed by the connectivity and long-term reliability of the solution, as well as the flexibility gained in the production process.

Fischerwerke, a German company that provides fixing systems, automotive systems, and process consulting services worldwide, recently switched sections of its packaging production over to the Siko AG05 actuator. Using approximately 50 actuators of the AG05 series, Fischerwerke was able to reduce the line set-up times from 45 to less than five minutes. In addition to the low weight and small installation size, the customer was particularly impressed by the connectivity and long-term reliability of the solution, as well as the flexibility gained in the production process.

The decisive factor in industrial production processes is the number of units manufactured. Profitability increases rapidly the longer machines can run without operator intervention. However, with the current market density, sufficient demand for mass production only exists in certain areas. In many market segments, flexibility in producing small and medium lot sizes has become a deciding competitive factor. A key requirement for this is a reduction of set-up times in the production line. A significant increase in efficiency can be realised by automating the set-up processes with networked actuators. Fischerwerke now operates several production lines with automated actuators from Siko.

Prerequisites for switching to automated actuators

A quick look at the website of the Fischer Group is enough to get an idea of the manufacturer’s diversified product range, with a particularly wide variety of packaging options that must be directly integrated into the production processes. In order to meet these challenges, Fischer develops specific production equipment in its in-house specialised machinery division. The machinery required is designed, developed and manufactured in close collaboration with the production departments.

In 2007, the company established a project team with the aim of achieving maximum flexibility in the area of packaging through automating the set-up processes. The goal was to make even the smallest of orders economically viable and to strengthen the market position with the help of this newly created customer base. The existing production lines were completely overhauled by the project team and the degree of automation increased significantly. In the area of packaging, set-up times were reduced by using AG05 actuators from Siko. During the changeover, the AG05 was tested against comparable drives from other reputable manufacturers and came out on top.

Connectivity via Profinet

The primary motivation for changing to AG05 drives was the ability to connect to Profinet. With long-term reliability in mind, Fischer had previously decided to ensure compatibility with this standard whenever new equipment was purchased. In the AG05, the proprietary protocol, SikoNet 5, is Profinet-enabled via the fieldbus converter Anybus from HMS. “Connectivity was the most important factor when selecting the actuators,” points out Herbert Erath, head of specialised machinery at Fischer. “Siko provided the communicator for the sample drives that were initially supplied. However, for large-scale use, we were advised to purchase the product directly from HMS for reasons of economy.”

In order to provide customers with a complete solution, Siko offers a range of optional additional services. In addition to the drive itself, the available range includes cabling, plugs and power supplies, the aforementioned Profinet converter and all necessary software modules for external controls. Because the goods are supplied from a single source, it is possible to offer greater flexibility in the design of the complete system. Once the customer is familiar with the system, the components can then be purchased directly from the manufacturer.

Performance features of the AG05

In addition to being Profinet-enabled, the AG05 stands out for its unusually compact size. The space-saving layout is made possible by a power density previously not available and the drive weighs only half as much as others with similar performance. A number of additional features which prove helpful in certain situations complete the offering. These include the integrated display, the control keys and the option of operation without fieldbus capability. “In practice, the compact size of the AG05 and the display has proved to be of great benefit for us,” confirms Erath.

As explicitly requested by Fischer, the actuator can be addressed without tools or software. Another special feature is the fibreglass-reinforced plastic housing which is particularly easy to clean. This is enhanced by the fact that the surface is designed with a downward slope at all points, so that contamination from droplets leaves hardly any residue.

From 45 to under five minutes

The collaboration with Siko in the area of actuators has proved successful and both companies are extremely satisfied with the results. For a relatively small initial investment, Fischer managed to achieve a significant increase in the degree of automation of production lines and in particular in the production of packaging. Erath concludes: “We were able to reduce set-up times from 45 to less than five minutes to give a huge increase in efficiency.”

Erath is delighted by the fact that the entire production can be switched to the required parts by simply selecting the material number. The automation of the packaging production opens up a whole new customer base for Fischer and contributes significantly to ensuring the quality of small orders. Siko, on the other hand, was able to take advantage of the welcome opportunity to carry out the test phase of the innovative AG05 with an industry leader and as a result gain a satisfied new customer of international standing.

For more information contact Pieter Deysel, Instrotech, +27 (0)11 462 1920, sales@instrotech.co.za, www.instrotech.co.za



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