Complete manufacturing solutions are in greater demand than ever. Until a few years ago, production steps were broken down into sub-processes, and production lines were implemented with different tool manufacturers. Nowadays, however, the demand is almost always for a complete solution. Machine tool manufacturers can consider themselves lucky if they have a wide enough technological basis to meet the demand for such solutions by themselves.
EMAG is one such manufacturer who specializes in implementing solutions for the entire process chain. No one else has mastered the separation of complex production processes into easily manageable sub-processes like the company from Salach, Germany. One reason this is possible, is that the modular EMAG machines that allow the construction of an entire production line from modular building blocks. The new sprocket production line is an impressive example.
Sprockets are found in every modern engine and need to be produced by the millions, while still maintaining the highest levels of quality. This precision is important to keep the wear of parts to a minimum, since essential components such as camshafts depend on their function. High productivity and high quality are no longer incompatible, as demonstrated by EMAG with their sprocket production system – built entirely from modular machines.
Perfectly Linked Modular Machines
“We have separated the machining process for sprockets into four easily manageable sub-processes”, says Peter Loetzner, President & CEO at EMAG L.L.C. “In OP 10 and OP 20, we use the VL 3 DUO dual-spindle vertical turning center to machine both sides of the sprocket blanks. In OP 30, we do the gear milling on our VL 4 H gear hobbing machine. The final deburring of the finished sprocket in OP 40 is done on our VL 2 RC chamfering and deburring machine. The fact that we can run the entire machining process on modular machines from our Modular Solutions line demonstrates the outstanding flexibility and performance of this series—which also comes at a more than fair price”, adds Mr. Loetzner.
In addition to the modular machines, EMAG also uses the TrackMotion automation system, designed specifically for this machine type. “With our own automation system, called TrackMotion, we can interlink our modular machines in a very simple and efficient way. It includes the TransLift, a workpiece gripper that runs on a rail system immediately behind the machining area, practically right through the machines, and allows for efficient and direct parts transport between the machines. It flips over the parts between operations and then places them on the stackers, which are pallets for stacking the finished parts. This enables us to fit a very large number of finished parts in a very narrow space,” Loetzner explains. “A compact and simple design, combined with maximum productivity was our goal during the design of this production line, and the high satisfaction level of our customers proves to us that we have achieved our ambitious objectives.”
Details of the Production System
Ease of handling was a priority to the system developers. This starts with the loading of the production system where we have a separator that the blanks, currently in the form of cutoffs, are simply dumped into. From here, the parts move to the integrated part magazine of the VL 3 DUO dual-spindle vertical turning center. These integrated part magazines are part of the pick-up automation system, a feature of each modular machine by EMAG. The modular machines are fully automatic within themselves. The working spindle loads itself from the integrated part magazine, moves to the machining area to perform the operation, and afterwards deposits the machined workpiece back to the part magazine, where the next piece is already waiting to be processed. From here, the above described TrackMotion automation system picks up the piece and deposits it on the integrated part magazine of the next machine. That way there is virtually no idle time since the transport of parts between machines runs simultaneously to the machining operation, and therefore has no impact on cycle times. The working spindle itself only takes a few seconds to load and unload.
Highly Efficient Machining Technology
In addition to achieving maximum performance in automation technology, EMAG has made sure that the machining technology will also contribute to the high productivity of the production line.
For example, the VL 3 DUO machines feature powerful 18 kW working spindles with a torque of 77 Nm. In combination with 12-post tool turrets (choice of VDI or BMT interface), optionally equipped with driven tools and Y-axis, the results are both fast and precise machining processes—made possible by the direct drive (torque motors). The vertical gear hobbing machine and the vertical chamfering and deburring machine feature proven technology by EMAG. The powerful milling unit of the VL 4 H provides rapid feed rates, and matches its modular sibling machines in productivity. For chamfering and deburring of the sprocket, a choice is available between press deburring, or the chamfer cut procedure. Which method is used depends on the workpiece geometry and, of course, customer preference.
“With this sprocket production system, EMAG demonstrates once again the flexibility and performance of its modular product range. With this system, we produce sprockets in less than 40 seconds by means of our modular machines. For our customers, this means that the production system is available at very short notice and at an extremely attractive price”, declares Loetzner. “Never has it been easier to build production lines than with our Modular Solutions, in combination with our TrackMotion automation system. I am convinced that whoever has seen such a machine, or a line of these machines, in operation will be thoroughly impressed. Everything is just right: quality, productivity, and price.”