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Same Deutz-Fahr, manufacturer of Lamborghini, Same and Deutz-Fahr tractors, has cut non-productive tool checking on four Mazak FMS cells by retrofitting Renishaw’s TRS2 tool-recognition systems.

The flexible manufacturing system (FMS) cells produce transmission and gearbox components, all of which require a large number of threaded holes.

With 70 per cent of machining time devoted to drilling and tapping, tools that vary in size from M5 to M18 break frequently – undetected, this would lead to scrap and wasted machining time.

As Luigi Galimberti, manufacturing engineering specialist for machining operations, said: ‘We have used tool-breakage detection for a long time on the Mazak machines, as machining cycles are fully automated and operators would have no idea if a tap or drill broke.

‘Without detection, a component could still have a broken tool embedded; subsequent operations would be incomplete and other components could be damaged.’ Same Deutz-Fahr was unhappy with the original detection systems, which used to take more than 21 seconds to check each tool.

Same Deutz-Fahr decided to retrofit Renishaw TRS2 tool-recognition units to multiple machining centres across all four FMS lines.

Galimberti said: ‘With all the cutting we do we know a lot of tools need checking, so a reduction on that time meant significant time and cost savings.

‘Each component needs at least 34 tool checks, so with the TRS2 check taking less than seven seconds, the cycle time for every part has been reduced by an average of 7.5 minutes – some six per cent of cycle time.’ The TRS2 is a non-contact laser system dedicated to tool-breakage detection, which allows the machine tool to monitor tool-length fully automatically during a machining cycle.

In less than a second it can detect the presence of the tip of a rotating cutting tool so that if it has broken during the previous machining cycle, the system detects this and the machine can take immediate action without damaging more components.

The TRS2 tool-breakage detection system is also extremely easy to install, with both laser transmitter and receiver contained in one unit that doesn’t need the alignment of full tool setting systems featuring two separate units.

If a tool breakage is detected by the Renishaw system, an alarm sounds and the machining program is stopped.

Any logic could be employed at this stage, for example another identical ‘sister tool’ could be used instead and machining could continue, but the engineers at Same Deutz-Fahr prefer to stop the process for an operator to check the part and make sure that no more damage occurs.

Galimberti said the decision to invest in the TRS2 tool-recognition systems and the subsequent cycle-time savings has been extremely successful.

‘After a detailed analysis, based on the cost to run machines, we know this equates to a saving of more than EUR150K (GBP135K) in the first year.

‘This is because most of the non-productive machine time taken to check tools has now been released to machine components.

‘We have paid back the initial investment in the TRS2s in a matter of just five months.’ The project to replace the tool-breakage detection units was part of a general cost-reduction exercise.

Galimberti added: ‘When we started we had several options for improving machining productivity, but this was by far the best, the others would have taken much longer to pay back.’ Speed is the key feature of the TRS2, but it is also important that a broken tool is not missed or wrongly identified as good.

The tool is moved such that the tip is in the path of the laser beam emitted from the TRS2 and rotated at one of several set speeds.

The TRS2 looks for a pattern of reflected light in its receiver from the cutting surfaces of the tool.

During installation, the transmitter beam is directed into a convenient position in the machine’s working volume, often crossing the path taken by the machine to perform a tool change, to minimise any extra traverse moves.

The length of a good tool is recorded in the machine from a previous tool-setting routine, so the machine knows exactly where the TRS2 tool-recognition unit should detect the tip.

The engineer programming the job chooses how frequently the tool needs checking, depending on their knowledge of how often the tool is likely to break.

This could be part-way through a machining operation, or often after an operation has finished and the tool is being returned to the tool carousel.

The philosophy employed in Same Deutz-Fahr’s manufacturing is well thought out, to maintain high quality while minimising costs, as Massimiliano Tempesta, manufacturing engineering manager, explained: ‘We have a common platform strategy, not just in our products but also in our engineering principles, with engineering knowledge coordinated here in Italy and shared across all the plants.

‘Stock of component parts is kept low by producing only what we need, according to varying demand for different models.

‘We’ve done this in the machining operation with these very flexible Mazak FMS cells producing individual machined parts for the transmission and gearboxes.

‘This is then coordinated with other components to come together on the assembly lines in a ‘just-in-time’ style.’ The three types of tractor are all produced on the same production lines with common components.

Each brand has a following in different regions, but as with many car manufacturers, it makes sense to share a common underlying design across different models.

Renishaw

A world leader in engineering technologies, Renishaw’s core skills in measurement and precision machining serve sectors as diverse as dimensional metrology, spectroscopy, machine calibration, motion control, dentistry and surgical robotics.

A world leader in engineering technologies, Renishaw’s core skills in measurement and precision machining serve sectors as diverse as dimensional metrology, spectroscopy, machine calibration, motion control, dentistry and surgical robotics.

Sensors for co-ordinate measuring machines (CMMs) are an industry standard, from basic touch-trigger probes through to automated stylus and probe changers, motorised indexing probe heads, and revolutionary five-axis measurement systems.

Machine probes for CNC machine tools allow automated tool setting, workpiece set-up, in-cycle gauging and part inspection. Products include laser tool setters, contact tool setters, tool breakage detectors, touch probes and high accuracy inspection probes.

For motion control, Renishaw supplies laser encoders, optical linear encoders, optical angle encoders, optical rotary encoders, magnetic rotary encoders, magnetic chip encoders and magnetic linear encoders.

To analyse the static and dynamic performance of position-critical motion systems, Renishaw’s laser interferometer and environmental compensation system offers a linear measurement accuracy of 0.5 ppm, readings of up to 50 kHz and a linear measurement speed of up to 4 m/s, with a linear resolution of 1nm.

Renishaw’s Raman spectroscopy products exploit the Raman effect to identify and characterise the chemistry and structure of materials. A diverse range of analytical applications include pharmaceutical, forensic science, nanotechnology, biomedical and semiconductors.

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