Stäubli Corp. says it is pioneering automation systems to help injection molders move toward an Industry 4.0 workflow, and will show advances that allow faster and safer mold changes at NPE2018.
The Swiss company with North American headquarters in Duncan, S.C., says it can save processors "precious minutes" every time a mold is swapped out with its Quick Mold Change (QMC) system.
Stäubli will demonstrate the system in a work cell at Booth W4003 that it says will show single-minute exchanges of molds for running different products.
"Smarter electronics can improve the manufacturing process by helping control the costs of flexibility and optimizing quality, reliability, and safety," Phil Briggs, fluid connectors division manager for Stäubli North America, said in a news release.
If smart equipment can manage product variations, manufacturers will be able to shorten runs without adding to production costs, Briggs added.
"In the factory of the future, not only will it be possible to vary production, but also to shorten product life cycles as needed," he said.
The cell at Stäubli's booth will feature a presentation about all the technologies involved, including integrated sensors that detect the condition of the mold and the molding force of the magnetic clamping system. Any faults, such as failures to reach the correct operating temperature, will be "recognized early" so it can be corrected, which improves efficiency and safety, according to the company.
Stäubli says its mechatronics experience in robotics, sensors, magnetic clamping, rapid connection devices, tool changers, trolleys and electrical connections gives the QMC system speed and improves safety.
The system is particularly suited for molders of products customized in mass, such as personalized goods, which is a growing trend, according to Stäubli. The company says these industry players need to diversify their products to stay competitive, but the level of flexibility to do that requires downtime for recalibrating and retooling equipment, which cuts into productivity and adds costs.
"Faced with these new challenges, Stäubli designs automated systems capable of communicating with each other and adapting production to demand with the greatest flexibility," Briggs said.