Success Story RÖCHLING

SUMCAB dresspack systems for extraction robots for injection moulding machines at the Röchling Automotive factory in Wackersdorf ensure process reliability and facilitate short cycle times. This is made possible by the high wear resistance of our products, which are coordinated with the motion sequences of the robots. Rudolf Lietz, Group Leader of Maintenance within the factory, is also impressed with our ability as specialists to develop solutions and the commitment of our technicians.

With over 4700 employees, Röchling Automotive is partner to car manufacturers and system suppliers around the world. The plastics specialist's core competencies include the aerodynamics, acoustics, propulsion, thermal management and new mobility concepts in each segment of the vehicle.

Röchling Automotive Germany SE & Co. KG operates a factory in Wackersdorf in the Upper Palatinate of Bavaria, Germany at which innovative plastic components are produced for vehicle manufacturers for use in the vehicles’ underbody, engine compartment, air induction system, air damper controls, and air and water management systems. For around two decades, the factory has been supplying customers, primarily in southern Germany and has made a significant contribution to the success of the corporate group during this period. In addition to their main customer, BMW, their other clients include Porsche, Plastic Omnium, Opel, Hella und Behr, Faurecia and Magna Steyr.

In addition to linear robots produced by Engel, six-axis robots from ABB and Yaskawa are deployed as extraction robots in the factory's injection moulding plant. It is their task to extract the finished moulded components from the machine, to move them across a scanner or camera for quality control purposes and finally to distribute the components across the finished parts and rejects conveyor belts as required.

Previously High Wear and Tear

The articulated robots perform complicated motion sequences, sometime at very high speeds. In addition, the highly complex grippers have to work in extremely restricted spaces. This used to make the dresspack systems for the robots’ media supplies susceptible to wear and tear, resulting in frequent injection plant outages.

The fact that the machinery is significantly more reliable today is due entirely to the dresspack systems from SUMCAB Specialcable GmbH. In early 2016, a member of our sales team travelled to the factory from Pfedelbach in Baden Württemberg to demonstrate retraction systems for portable teach device cables. During the meeting, one of the extraction robots deployed next to an injection moulding machine in the production area developed a power supply issue. Because this robot goes through a series of highly complex movements, cable breakages at the manual axis have caused multiple power supply issues in the past. The SUMCAB representative informed his hosts that the SUMCAB portfolio includes specific solutions for precisely such problems.

Convinced by the Pilot Plant

A SUMCAB service engineer went along to the following meeting at the factory and was able to offer a concrete proposal for how to achieve a significant improvement in the situation. The robot at injection moulding machine 18 was subsequently fitted with one of our dresspack systems.

Rudolf Lietz, Group Leader of Maintenance at the Wackersdorf works recalls: “We swapped the existing dresspack system on the pilot plant with a SUMCAB product, which enabled us to rectify the problem. The SUMCAB dresspack system follows the robot's movement without a problem. Since then, the machine has operated to our full satisfaction. We were so impressed by this that we're now successively upgrading all of the injection plant throughout the factory. Our experiences with the dresspack systems of other manufacturers were bad; they were simply too vulnerable to wear”.

Installation and Optimisation

SUMCAB not only supplies the Wackersdorf works with the dresspack systems but also installs them on the robots and then optimises them under live production conditions. The SUMCAB engineers then return to the factory about a month later to inspect the dresspack system for any signs of wear. They also make sure that it is configured correctly and make any slight adjustments that may be needed.

SUMCAB's special cable retraction system enables a streamlined routing of the dresspack system on the robot. Praising the system, Rudolf Lietz says that: “it's the optimum low-wear media routing system, especially for complex robot applications. This simple but effective technology enables a variable length power supply to the robot. The dresspack systems are always under the correct tension throughout every movement, which prevents looping, and reduces wear and tear. The SUMCAB folks have put a lot of thought into it and it's evident that a lot of experience has gone into this solution”.

Short Cycle Times Possible

The wear resistance of the dresspack systems also contributes to an increase in injection moulding plant productivity. The well-guided movement sequences makes it possible to shorten the cycle times. “We can now operate at higher speeds”, says the maintenance expert, “because we know that the dresspack systems enable this without anything failing either on the robot or on the periphery”.

He also sees the rapid, plug-and-play swap-out feature of our dresspack systems as a major benefit: Röchling Automotive Germany’s in-house maintenance team can do it themselves. According Lietz, SUMCAB’s plug connections are much easier to use than those of other manufacturers, who also offer plug-and-play solutions, which, he says, saves time and reduces production downtime.

By October 2017, five robots at the Wackersdorf works had already been upgraded. The plan is to fit the robots at the other injection moulding stations with SUMCAB dresspack systems to increase their reliability. Moreover, the decision to use SUMCAB products as standard also simplifies the spares holding provision.

Customer Satisfaction in Focus

As Lietz summarises: “We’re extremely satisfied with SUMCAB’s products. The company's engineers do an excellent job and do everything in their power to find solutions as rapidly as possible. I’m especially impressed that they return to check everything on the day after production start. They really do a lot on site to ensure customer satisfaction. They only leave the assembly site when the system is working 100 per cent as it should do. We're planning a few more joint projects”.