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Faurecia S.A., which belongs to the French group PSA Peugeot Citroen, uses 40 tonne injection moulds which have to be changed several times per shift. Stäubli’s Connectors division installed a new set-up back in 2012 — in the time since, the transfer of dies is now implemented on a rail trolley. In addition, the controls for the mould change system now manage intelligent tool storage. The results, claim Stäubli, are fully automated workflows, the shortest possible routes and reduced machine downtime.
Applications at Faurecia include complete front-end modules, bumpers, sills and various design elements for the premium segment. For the high-quality plastic parts to be finished, sprayed in the vehicle colour and delivered just-in-time to the conveyor belts of the OEM, a three-shift operation is in place at the Rhön factory. Production is characterised by small batches; a standard batch for Faurecia only comprises about 250 to 300 pieces.
“Valuable time was often lost during the transfer of the dies”, said Halil Havan, UAP Manager in the injection moulding department at Faurecia. “That’s why the job for our system partners was to create a new solution adapted to the current situation in order to reduce down-time.”
The high-tech steel moulds are moved from the 70m long tool storage facility, fully automatically, into the injection moulding machine on a rail tool shuttle from Stäubli. In one journey, the trolley can deliver the tool, and at the same time, remove the previous tool.
During the change, both dies are briefly on board together. Then the trolley, which has a load capacity of 110 tonnes moves into the correct position, to the millimeter according to Stäubli, where it pushes the tool into the injection moulding machine using a chain-driven push-pull mechanism.
The numerous quick and multi-couplings for media circuits and electrical energy are still coupled manually with the machine in this application by two employees. Further steps in the tool change, such as centering and clamping, take place automatically using a Stäubli clamping cylinder.
Stäubli Project Manager, Stefan Patsch, who has supported the project from the planning phase through to implementation, said: “There are many advanced individual systems which dovetail closely within this system solution, and without which such integrated management of the complex processes would not be possible.” Stäubli says that these ‘individual systems’ include optical scanning systems for precise detection of the positions for tool and trolley, as well as a push-pull system.
Also taken into account during the installation was the integration of optimised warehouse logistics. Halil Havan said: “The control of the tool change system permanently corresponds to the production planning. Once it is decided which of the 37 stored tools is required next, the trolley puts the tool in the exact position in the storage which is the shortest distance from the injection moulding machine in question. Thus, the tool is waiting in “pole position” with the shortest route to the mould, ready to be used, which allowed us to reduce the set-up times even further.”