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DEMERO Automation Systems developed a three-axis CNC system to apply metered sealants during the production of various air-conditioning filters. In this process, the system independently recognizes different component shapes and responds flexibly to various curve profiles. For these precise processes, the machine manufacturer relies on a complete automation system from STOBER that consists of controllers, drive controllers and synchronous servo motors. This enables the customer who uses this system to increase their production capacity by up to 30 percent.
Climate filters in the automotive industry remove solids like pollen, spores and soot particles from air sucked in by the double radial blowers. A filter is generally made of a pleated filter medium and a frame that holds the filter in the air box and seals it in. One of the leading manufacturers of air-conditioning compressors and filters is Sanden Holdings Corporation from Japan, with headquarters in Isesaki and Tokyo. To be able to supply customers in Europe quickly and provide them reliable support, the automobile supplier also has a subsidiary, Sanden Manufacturing Poland, in the Polish town of Polkowice. Assembly lines for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems for cars have been running here since 2017. Customers include Swedish commercial vehicle manufacturer Scania AB and Dutch car producer DAF.
To apply sealant between the filter medium and frame during production, the Polkowice plant has previously relied on manual guns. The disadvantage of this method is insufficient speed and a lack of consistent application quality. Therefore, the goal was to automate this production step and thus increase filter production. Sanden Manufacturing Poland commissioned DEMERO Automations Systems, headquartered in the Polish town of Wrocław, to develop the necessary system. The company develops and sells robotic and multi-axis solutions for various applications that include measuring, palletizing, printing, soldering, sorting—and metering.
Focus on Control and Drive Technology
"In concrete terms, our system is intended to be able to independently recognize two differently shaped filter parts located within a mold, apply a dose of sealant and automatically switch between the two different curve profiles," describes Darius Nosiadek, Managing Director at DEMERO. "The focus here is on the topic of control and drive technology." DEMERO is a sales partner of STÖBER Antriebstechnik GmbH + Co. KG, from Pforzheim, Germany, a manufacturer and developer of automation solutions and drive components such as gear units, motors, drive controllers and motion controllers. That is why it was clear to the machine manufacturer from the beginning that it would also rely on STOBER for this application. "These components let us reliably implement this very specific solution," he states.
DEMERO developed a CNC system with three axes in a gantry design. The working space is X = 500, Y = 500 and Z = 200 millimeters, with a positioning accuracy of ± 0.01 millimeters and maximum linear velocity of 250 millimeters per second. The head of this machine can be adjusted according to customer requirements flexibly—such as to attach a suction device or gripper, depending on use. The engineers emphasized overall performance in order to ensure precision and repeat accuracy. "For us, it was important to know that we had STOBER, an expert partner with a comprehensive product range, on our side," affirms Nosiadek.
The STOBER components used include type EZ synchronous servo motors that are mechanically connected directly to the spindle of the linear axis. The high resolution of the motor encoder as well as fast process data transmission over EtherCAT ensure a high positioning and repeat accuracy in the system," states Daniel Lohse, Director of Business Development EMEA at STOBER. For simple, quick installation, a HIPERFACE DSL absolute encoder is integrated into the motor. The specialist offers this with a convenient One Cable Solution (OCS), which is absolutely essential in a machine with little space.
Reliability in the Background
"We combined the motor with the drive controller from our SI6 series," describes Lohse. This highly dynamic solution also works reliably for challenging movements, running unnoticed in the background. STO (Safe Torque Off) and SS1 (Safe Stop 1) functions are integrated. In the SI6 series, these are certified in accordance with EN 13849-1 and can be used without function tests that interrupt production. "The drive controller has a width of only 45 millimeters and is designed as a multi-axis drive controller," comments Lohse. "A single SI6 drive controller can control up to two axes. Thanks to the serial connection of multiple controllers, the number of axes to be controlled can be scaled without limit." Installing individual components could not be easier. The patented Quick DC-Link modules can be simply clicked into the standard copper rails for power distribution and enable the simple installation and connection of the drive controllers.
The STOBER MC6 motion controller takes over the control in this system. It is ideal for synchronized control over EtherCAT. The controller also serves as the entire human machine interface. The use of the AS6 AutomationControlSuite development environment enables open motion control system concepts (IEC 61131-3). This also makes the MC6 capable of understanding and running the G-code machine language, in which the motion path is stored. However, the user can also position the system directly according to the point-to-point principle. "All calculations for path planning and interpolation of the three axes take place centrally," explains Nosiadek from DEMERO. The MC6 allows the curve shape to be adapted flexibly to the shapes of the filter parts. Using the 15-inch touch panel, the user can operate the machine directly and use the displayed information. It also includes a language selection as well as user management. The latter ensures that employees can customize the machine using settings and adjustment options.
"Our AS6 AutomationControlSuite development environment includes all the functions contained in CODESYS V3 for motion control," explains Lohse. High-performance Drive & Motion libraries are available for creating programs, which allow the application to be implemented with a significantly lower programming effort.
Nosiadek from DEMERO points at the system: "As a reservoir for the sealant, a cartridge is used that lasts for about 100 filters. The user has to replace it by hand," he says. "On request from the customer, we didn't install a central supply unit. The quantity of sealing material is regulated by compressed air." This depends on the speed of application and distance of the surface to which sealant is being applied. The machine recognizes the two different shapes of the filter parts automatically. The controller switches back and forth accordingly on its own.
The new three-axis system is now used at Sanden Manufacturing Poland around the clock, seven days a week. It made it possible for the plant to increase its filter production by up to 30 percent. Also, because STOBER supplied everything from a single source, the number of contact persons in case of problems could be kept as small as possible. As a result, reliable operation is ensured at all times.