Large lots or as few as 25 pieces.
Changeover under 30 minutes.
Reliable, repeatable performance.
Benefits of Automation During the Hobbing Process
Koepfer horizontal hobbing machines have developed over decades with automation as a central feature to their success. What exactly is “automation”? Gear hobbing automation is a system that integrates with a machine tool to automatically load and unload blanks and gears through the use of hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders, grippers, claws, etc. (see the adjacent video). Today’s flexible Koepfer automation systems can adapt to a larger number of part types. These systems can be set up in less than 30 minutes, allowing lot sizes as small as 25 pieces to be run with the benefits of automation. This is one key to a successful gear hobbing process.
Koepfer gear hobbing machines are used and recognized throughout the world due to their flexible automation. They can accommodate pinions, shaft type parts, as well as bore types using one basic automation system. The Koepfer machines are horizontally-configured and have parallel axes for cutting and automation, which allows gravity to aid the loading and unloading of parts. This reduces the complexity of the automation (less cost and easier changeover) and reduces motion (faster cycles). In the end, flexible automation provides the critical ability for job shops to minimize their work-in-progress costs, decrease labor needs, decrease cycle times, and produce parts more consistently.
Despite the additional upfront cost of a Koepfer automation system, it will increase the efficiency of a machine, reduce labor costs, and increase machine utilization. Over the life of a machine, these gains will easily outweigh the costs. Therefore, automation for Koepfer gear hobbing machines provides an invaluable means to getting the most from the machine tool, which leads to greater productivity. This is why most Koepfer machines are manufactured with automation systems.
In gear manufacturing, the use of automation should be considered to help achieve a highly productive and profitable operation. With each new generation of Koepfer hobbing machines, the speed and flexibility of the automation systems also improve. Automation brings many advantages. The greatest is the elimination of human operation “interference” time, and it also increases machine utilization because less time is spent loading work pieces. The operation will also be engineered, which provides more consistently accurate and precise parts.
Automation diagram of shank-type parts.
Automation diagram of bore-type parts.
Koepfer Automation: The Secret to Success
Gear manufacturers have used Koepfer machines for decades to achieve success. The machine is simply a tool. The “secret” is in effectively using its capabilities, and automation is a large piece in the gear manufacturing puzzle. In particular, minimizing setup times is Koepfer’s secret to success, and setups are flexible and easy. The wide variety of Koepfer’s standard gripper sizes and transfer centers cover practically all part diameters and configurations that fall within the machine’s pitch capabilities. Likewise, adjustable rails on the gravity magazine easily accommodate a large variety of parts. This design allows quick, easy setup to minimize machine downtime.
Koepfer Automation: Model 160
The Koepfer Model 160 CNC Gear Hobbing Machine features world-class automation. An integrated gantry loader with rotary twin grippers provides the shortest possible work handling times. To minimize idle time between pieces, the twin grippers load a new blank immediately following the completion of the cutting cycle. All other automation movement is performed during the cutting cycle, such as the gantry movement between the work area and the magazine area. This machine utilizes a pneumatic actuation system for movement. This offers quick movements throughout the loading and unloading cycle that can keep up with very short cutting times.
Koepfer Automation: Models 200 and 300
The Koepfer Models 200 and 300 CNC Gear Hobbing Machines feature similar automation systems. The Koepfer gantry loader is equipped with V-grippers that are hydraulically actuated for loading and unloading of parts. On the Koepfer Model 300, parts up to 5 kg (11 lb) can be automated. With Koepfer’s versatile gripper configurations, a wide range of component sizes and types can be easily set up and automated. Depending on part types and sizes, a gravity ramp, vibrating ramp, chain conveyor, or standard belt conveyor accommodates lot sizes to keep a Koepfer running for hours. Additionally, Koepfer automation can utilize a multiple distributor system that allows the flexibility between even larger lot sizes or different work pieces on a single setup.
Automation Means Productivity
Gear manufacturing automation is a key for success. It offers maximum productivity for your gear cutting machines. Koepfer is a world leader in fine-to-medium pitch gear hobbing automation, so learn more about how we can work together.