One solution for many applications – The flex­i­ble vac­u­um han­dling de­vice de­vel­oped by eu­roTECH for ex­trud­ed pro­files - in­clud­ing steel con­struc­tion, an over­head trav­el­ling crane and a con­trol sys­tem

Any­one want­ing to move alu­mini­um, light met­al or plas­tic pro­files with dif­fer­ent cross sec­tions and sur­faces with one and the same vac­u­um ap­pli­ca­tion will find that the lim­i­ta­tions of stan­dard equip­ment are quick­ly ex­posed. Even more so when the se­mi-fin­ished prod­ucts are de­liv­ered in a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent po­si­tion­al ori­en­ta­tions. Based on the vac­u­um lift­ing de­vice in the eT-Hov­er se­ries, eu­roTECH has de­vel­oped an in­te­grat­ed so­lu­tion for TSE Trail­er Sys­tem En­gi­neer­ing that can han­dle all of the giv­en vari­a­tions. As a man­u­fac­tur­er of truck su­per­struc­tures, TSE has there­by been able to en­sure that its op­er­a­tional pro­ce­dures are safer and more pro­tec­tive of health. Em­ploy­ee sick leave has since de­clined.



Once the eT-Hov­er vac­u­um lift­ing de­vice has been ac­cu­rate­ly po­si­tioned on the nar­row and up to 10 me­tre long alu­mini­um pro­file, the light met­al is drawn in by the ap­pli­ca­tion of suc­tion and trans­port­ed by means of a mo­tor-driv­en, smooth-run­ning over­head trav­el­ling crane, which in­cludes a chain hoist, to the cra­dle in the long-goods ma­chin­ing cen­tre. In sev­er­al steps, a sys­tem com­po­nent is pro­duced out of the se­mi-fin­ished prod­uct, which will lat­er be­come the sup­port­ing el­e­ment of a truck su­per­struc­ture.

Un­til re­cent­ly, the po­si­tion­ing of alu­mini­um pro­files was a job for two peo­ple.


"With a length of 6 me­tres and some­times near­ly as much as 10 me­tres, the bars can weigh up to 60 kilo­grams. The num­ber of em­ploy­ees com­plain­ing of back prob­lems and be­ing ab­sent for a num­ber of days as a con­se­quence in­creased steadi­ly",


says Torsten Led­abil, Pro­ject Man­ag­er at TSE Trail­er Sys­tem En­gi­neer­ing GmbH & Co. KG. It is al­so the case that a sec­ond em­ploy­ee is al­ways need­ed for load­ing the bars in­to and out of po­si­tion. For this rea­son alone, TSE re­alised that ur­gent ac­tion was need­ed.


TSE is a sub­sidiary of Schmitz Car­gob­ull AG, one of the lead­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers of truck su­per­struc­tures in Eu­rope. With around 60 em­ploy­ees at the lo­ca­tions Rat­shausen and Dot­tern­hausen near Balin­gen, the com­pa­ny de­vel­ops and man­u­fac­tures those es­sen­tial and ver­sa­tile frame­works for truck su­per­struc­tures that are so much in de­mand nowa­days in the trans­port and lo­gis­tics in­dus­try. The re­quired raw ma­te­ri­als are ex­trud­ed alu­minum pro­files. De­pend­ing on func­tion and us­age, the pro­files con­cerned may have very dif­fer­ent cross-sec­tions, sur­faces and lengths. For rea­sons of space and costs, the se­mi-fin­ished prod­ucts are de­liv­ered in a va­ri­ety of po­si­tion­al ori­en­ta­tions. This places high de­mands on a high-per­for­mance and ef­fi­cient han­dling tech­nol­o­gy.


TSE want­ed an ap­pli­ca­tion there­fore that could be used for any giv­en pro­file type and po­si­tion­al ori­en­ta­tion, with­out the need for time-con­sum­ing mod­i­fi­ca­tions and ex­ten­sions. For rea­sons of both ge­om­e­try and lim­it­ed space in the vicin­i­ty of the ma­chin­ing cen­tre, oth­er kinds of han­dling sys­tems were dis­count­ed. Since eu­roTECH, as a provider of clev­er­ly-con­ceived vac­u­um so­lu­tions, was al­ready well-known to TSE, the branch of the com­pa­ny in Geis­lin­gen in the Zollern-Alb dis­trict was ap­proached for a con­sul­ta­tion. With a com­pre­hen­sive range of vac­u­um sys­tems, com­po­nents and the eu­roTECH-typ­i­cal flex­i­ble mod­u­lar sys­tem, the com­pa­ny pro­vides ef­fi­cient and cus­tomer pro­cess-spe­cif­ic han­dling so­lu­tions for the met­al, glass, wood and plas­tics in­dus­tries.


"To start with, we anal­ysed the sit­u­a­tion and the gen­er­al con­di­tions on site, put the task in­to con­crete terms, cre­at­ed a spec­i­fi­ca­tion to­geth­er with TSE and pre­sent­ed, as a first step, a so­lu­tion that could be de­vel­oped,"

says Dan­ny Locher, de­sign en­gi­neer and Pro­ject Man­ag­er at eu­roTECH.


"The aim was to op­ti­mal­ly in­te­grate the de­sired ap­pli­ca­tion in­to the ex­ist­ing pro­cess se­quence."

A ful­ly-com­pre­hen­sive so­lu­tion had to in­cor­po­rate plan­ning, de­sign, the sup­port­ing steel struc­ture with a smooth-run­ning, over­head trav­el­ling crane sys­tem, the chain hoist and a con­trol sys­tem. At the heart of the ful­ly-com­pre­hen­sive han­dling so­lu­tion de­vised by eu­roTECH is the vac­u­um han­dling de­vice from the eT-Hov­er se­ries. With this de­vice, the pro­files can be lift­ed hor­i­zon­tal­ly and swiv­elled through 180°. With the er­gonom­i­cal­ly-de­signed re­mote con­trol, all move­ments are pre­cise­ly and in­tu­itive­ly con­trol­lable. The han­dling de­vice has 5 suc­tion plates. Each is equipped with 6 oval flat suc­tion cups in three par­al­lel groups. These are di­vid­ed in­to three vac­u­um cir­cuits. The suc­tion ar­range­ment is de­signed suchthat the suc­tion plates can be ap­plied to ev­ery kind of pro­file and po­si­tion­al ori­en­ta­tion. These suc­tion plates, de­rived from the ex­ten­sive eu­roTECH mod­u­lar sys­tem, were mod­i­fied for spe­cif­ic tasks, and, by virtue of their in­ter­nal suc­tion chan­nels, were able to save on ex­ter­nal tub­ing.


How the com­plex task was solved by eu­roTECH may be il­lus­trat­ed by the ex­am­ple of the so-called mega-holm pro­file: This L-shaped se­mi-fin­ished prod­uct, with di­men­sions of 173 x 97 mil­lime­tres and a length up to 10 me­tres, is de­liv­ered at an ori­en­ta­tion of 180 de­grees to the re­quired pro­cess­ing po­si­tion. The op­er­a­tor has to draw in the bar by ap­ply­ing suc­tion, swiv­el it, set it down in an in­ter­me­di­ate po­si­tion, draw it in again through the ap­pli­ca­tion of suc­tion and then po­si­tion it in the ma­chin­ing-cen­tre cra­dle. Be­cause a u-shaped groove ex­tends on one side over the en­tire length of the mega-holm pro­file, the op­er­a­tor sets the cen­tral suc­tion line, which re­mains con­tact­less, via a valve. The re­main­ing two suc­tion cir­cuits form the vac­u­um. With the sup­port of the crane, the eT-Hov­er lifts up the alu­minum pro­file. A mo­torised drive now swivels the lon­gi­tu­di­nal cross­beam on which the five suc­tion plates are mount­ed, to­geth­er with the work­piece, by 180 de­grees along the hor­i­zon­tal ax­is. If the side that was at the top is now at the bot­tom, the han­dling de­vice sets the pro­file down on­to the turn­ing de­vice and switch­es off the vac­u­um func­tion. The axle swivels back to its orig­i­nal po­si­tion. The eT-Hov­er can now ap­ply suc­tion to the side that is to be pro­cessed: The se­mi-fin­ished prod­uct trav­els by crane to the lev­el of the clamp­ing po­si­tion, and the lift­ing sys­tem and lift­ing de­vice po­si­tion the pro­file in the ma­chin­ing cen­tre clamp­ing jig. The mul­ti-stage ma­chin­ing pro­cess of saw­ing, milling and drilling can now be­gin.


The han­dling so­lu­tion im­ple­ment­ed by TSE can ac­com­mo­date loads of up to 60 kg. In ad­di­tion to the con­trols for the vac­u­um, the elec­tron­ic chain hoist and the crane drive, the con­trol cab­i­net al­so hous­es two bat­ter­ies for emer­gen­cy pow­er.


“The de­ci­sive fac­tor for us, hav­ing had eT-Hov­er tai­lored to our needs, is that we can han­dle all giv­en pro­files with a sin­gle ap­pli­ca­tion, with­out re­quir­ing any time-con­sum­ing and cost­ly mod­i­fi­ca­tions. And it was a fur­ther ad­van­tage for us to re­ceive all ser­vices, in­clud­ing ex­pert ad­vice, from a sin­gle source, i.e. eu­roTECH.“

says Torsten Led­abil. This def­i­nite­ly rep­re­sents a sound ba­sis for con­tin­ued co­op­er­a­tion in the com­ing years.




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