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Blum Develops Integrated Measuring System for Production Turning Centres
Blum Develops Integrated Measuring System for Production Turning Centres

Blum Develops Integrated Measuring System for Production Turning Centres

Added to MTDCNC by Blum-Novotest on 01 August 2016

With its Measuring Machines business division working in cooperation with a new manufacturer of turning machines, Inventhor; Blum-Novotest is offering Inventhor customers tailored manufacturing and measuring solutions.

Inventhor is a manufacturer of 4-axis vertical turning machines and a system supplier of serial turned parts in medium-sized to large batches. Due to the lack of available alternatives, Ralf Prahler, owner of Wendel and Zerpanungs-Technik GmbH (WZT), had developed and built a special turning machine for the production of his own serial turned parts. One of his customers for serial turned parts liked the machine called “IRIDIUM” so much that he ordered a turning machine for his own production. So, the trained turner and master mechanical engineer, Ralf Prahler, founded Inventhor GmbH in 2004 and began to produce turning machines.

Today, the two companies, WZT and Inventhor, are located in the town of Hitzacker, Germany and employ 100 staff. As many as 74 turning machines have already been sold into the market with most of the machines being supplied to the automotive sector. The machines are geared to the daily manufacturing routine and they combine design and proven technology in an intelligent manner. A reduction of machining time, increased productivity and the decrease of idle time are the result of significantly improved throughout.

The BMK 5 measuring and automation concept from Blum Novotest consists of a modularly extendable measuring cell with integrated workpiece handling. Unlike in process measurement, the BMK5 automatic measuring machine allows cycle-time neutral post-process tests outside of the machine tool. The BMK5 covers a broad spectrum of applications from a flexible stand-alone device to an inline measuring and testing cell for fully integrated, highly productive serial production.

Employed immediately after the machining centre, the advantages of the closed loop including correction interface with the machining centre become evident. Workpiece handling and automatic calibration of the measuring system are realised by an integrated 6-axis robot. When the corresponding modules are integrated, the BMK5 can also assume such tasks as sorting, labelling or the transfer to packaging in addition to workpiece testing.

Holger Scholler, the sales engineer in the measuring machines division at Blum Novotest explains: "The BMK5 automatic measuring machine is especially geared to, and optimised according to end-customer specifications. Here the workpieces are safety-relevant components for cars that demand 100% testing and documentation of the results as a mandatory requirement.”

To follow the process and interaction between the turning machine and Blum BMK5, the blanks enter the distribution system of the turning machine where each of the two spindles complete one workpiece. “While one workpiece is being processed, the next one is already fed to the other spindle,” says Ralf Prahler. “The sliding carriage concept minimises travel and idle times, so more parts are manufactured and tested." In the BMK5, an articulated robot arm takes the parts to the measuring device. The use of multi-point measurement on the workpiece allows the simultaneous acquisition of variables such as diameter, roundness and length or distance.

Scholler adds: "Apart from the consistent separate-spindle handling, the challenge was short cycle time requirements for 100% testing. Moreover, the testing equipment had to be designed for workpiece variants within few minutes.”

After the measurement, the assessed workpieces are sorted. “The two machines communicate continuously via an integrated data interface. Based on the measured workpieces and spindle assignment, only the spindle showing any deviation is corrected. This establishes a reasonable control loop."

The highly productive turning-measuring combination created by Inventhor and Blum-Novotest has a very low space requirement. “The customer's cycle time was even reduced compared to the previous solution. With very little floor space, the BMK5 meets the automotive industry requirements of quality assurance systems. The required measuring accuracy is achieved directly in the machining environment.”

Good cooperation is important when combining two entirely different systems. Prahler recalls: "So far the procedure has always been very constructive, reasonable and target oriented. Despite the harsh production conditions and an enormous output volume, the combined systems run very reliably."

The result of this cooperation is an increase in output by 20%. The joint project presented here is not the only one. The metrology specialist and the manufacturer of turning machines have been cooperating since 2011. Even though the two companies were engaged separately, the decision to combine the technologies of Inventhor and Blum-Novotest represents a successful symbiosis for the benefit of the customer.

“If a manufacturer calculates all costs incurred for an individual workpiece, this combined turning and measuring machine will deliver a price per part lower than companies in low-cost economies. The initial investment is quickly realised and pays off quickly. In future, I would like to see a BLUM BMK5 on each of our turning machines."

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