Wenger Automation & Engineering AG (Wenger) is a specialist in the field of customized machine tool automation. The company recently equipped two gantry systems used to grind gear components for a Chinese auto maker. Using a similar configuration to a drive-through carwash, parts are transported past different machining stations through the gantry by a conveyor system. Wenger opted to rely on smart solutions from the Siemens Simotion portfolio for motion control, for instance enabling material flow to be slowed down in the event of partial capacity utilization to save energy. Integrated networking of all the components also simplifies data handling, troubleshooting and diagnostics, ensuring ongoing optimization of the production process.
After grinding, the gear components are cooled in an oil bath, cleaned using a compressed air extraction system and then checked for quality. Each workpiece is given its own identification (ID), and its measured data is captured and saved at the end of the machining process by the Simotion Motion Control System from Siemens. Based on the measured data, parts outside the defined tolerances are segregated and the production process is optimized. "We've been using Siemens for years, and here too we took the decision to opt for Simotion," says Michael Wenger, Sales Director and Member of the Wenger Management Board.
A watchful eye on the production process
The motion control system monitors the entire grinding process taking place in the gantry system. "Even if measured values are within tolerance, we need to keep a close eye on them," explains Wenger. This ensures that any emerging trends are picked up early. "We refer to a trend if a measurement shows a consistent move away from the set value over a certain period. In cases such as these, we adjust the grinding machine parameters." By means of clearly arranged visualization on a Simatic HMI (Human Machine Interface) Comfort Panel Pro with a 19-inch display, operators are able to quickly pick up on this type of trend in production. Using the Siemens Sm@rtClient App, the relevant data can also be accessed locally on a smartphone or tablet. The plant is operated with the utmost flexibility using portable Simatic HMI Mobile Panels, which can be connected at different points around the plant. The gantry system is fitted with additional devices from Siemens: A Simotics S-1FK7 servomotor drives the Z axis in the measurement station, and a number of ET 200SP energy meters measure how much power is being consumed by the linear axes.
Integrated solution pays dividends
All the components are networked over the TIA (Totally Integrated Automation) Portal engineering framework. "The central management of data eliminates any problems with interfaces, and also allows us to come up with a rapid diagnosis in the event of a fault," says a delighted Wenger.