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Case history: robotic automation cuts time in coreroom.

Gebruder Gienanth-Eisenberg GmbH produces 400 coldbox sand cores per day for the production of high performance six- and eight-cylinder crankcases at its gray, ductile and compacted graphite iron shop in Eisenberg. Germany. As part of an ongoing improvement program, the company needed to increase production, reduce labor costs and improve quality of its core coating and handling.

After an extensive evaluation, Gienanth focused on two core handling operations--clipping into the core wash and palletizing finished cores--for its initial automation efforts. These operations historically had been performed manually, and the biggest concern was to ensure robot handling would not stress, crack or otherwise damage the delicate sand cores.

Two Kuka KR 500 heavy-duty robots were chosen for these operations, but before committing to the automation project, Gienanth commissioned a feasibility study to investigate possible methods for picking up the cores and see how the cores would respond to the robot motions. After the robots successfully completed a pilot run of motion patterns, speeds and accelerations, the robots were deployed in the metalcasting facility.

The cores, which weigh up to 573 lbs. (260 kg) and mea sure up to 44 in. (113.5 cm) high, are moved on a conveyor from the furnace to the rough orientation pickup station for the first robot. A photo electric sensor signals to the KR 500 when a sand core is present. The robot then registers the location of the core with a laser, determining its exact position in the pickup station. The robot picks up the core with its universal gripper and dips it into a bath of water wash to a defined depth. This protects the sand from the molten metal, preventing burn-in on the product.

After clipping the core into the bath, the KR 500 lifts it out again and transfers it to the apron conveyor of the drying furnace. During this process, the robot carries out rotational motions to allow the wash residues to drip off, thus preventing runs.

Once on the conveyor, the sand cores pass through the drying oven and a cooling zone. They then are picked up by the second KR 500 and palletized for transfer within the plant.

With the robotic system fully implemented, Gienanth has reduced labor costs and shortened cycle times.

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Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Jan 1, 2007
Previous Article:Case history: casting firm saves weeks from model to mold.
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