Engel lines up to meet strong robotics demand

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Injection moulding machine and automation specialist Engel sees its Viper linear robots increasingly being deployed in insert moulding and multiple-component processes as well as simple pick-and-place applications.

The company’s response to rising order volumes for automation technology is to introduce production line assembly and modernise the machine farm in its robot plant.

Dr Stefan Engleder, head of technology and production for the company, says: "Just a few years ago, you needed a custom automation solution for this." Seven load ratings between 6kg and 120kg are offered.

Laser-welded steel sections have been used in the robots’ construction to keep their dead weight low, with a view to increasing their load-bearing capacity. “Smart” control packages are claimed to reduce the structure-borne vibration of the robots – even with longer axis dimensions – and to optimise their movements and dynamic performance.

When Viper linear robots and Easix multiple-axis robots are deployed with Engel injection moulding machines, their control modules are fully integrated with the moulding machines’ CC 200 control units.

Engel reports increasing sales of Viper robots as replacements for legacy devices and for use on third-party injection moulding machines.

Cutting delivery times

Engel has invested €2.3m euros in its Dietach, Austria facility. "The market for automation technology is growing worldwide,” Engleder told a press conference at the Fakuma fair in October 2012. Engel supplies 50% of large and 35% of small- to medium-sized machines with automation included, and the figures are still rising. "Thanks to our new manufacturing structure, we can now achieve short delivery times for the Viper robot and integrated system solutions, despite full order books. We have increased production capacity at the same time."

Rolling out line assembly

Robot commissioning is synchronised with production line operation, with a view to avoiding unnecessary waiting time and providing a reliable basis for customers’ planning.

Two assembly lines for the Engel viper robots began operation in September, and 90% of orders are now covered by this method.

In 2003, Engel became one of the first injection moulding machine manufacturers to introduce line assembly of small and medium-sized moulding machines at its Schwertberg headquarters. Injection units have been produced by this method at the large-scale machine works in St. Valentin since April this year. The latest investment in Dietach sees the third Austrian production facility follow suit. "Line assembly is Engel's preferred manufacturing concept," Engleder emphasises. "We continually interrogate the efficiency of our production, and invest in optimisation driven by market requirements. This has helped us to improve our competitiveness worldwide."