The new versatility
Using the Multi-Carrier-System, Riester GmbH implements intelligent and extremely flexible assembly systems.
With the right technology, a supplier for automotive customers becomes a system supplier for a variety of markets
The idea for the new assembly system was born in an area in which Riester GmbH has already been successful for many years. Among other things, the company supplies assembly systems for fuel lines. "These lines are tailored precisely to the geometry of each vehicle model," explains Jörg Pfeiffer, Managing Partner of Riester GmbH in Aspach near Stuttgart. "This requires that the lines are bent and fitted with various connections, clamps or fastenings."
The machines must process a wide variety of types with the shortest possible changeover and handling times
"The main focus is on special-purpose machine manufacturing for the assembly and reinforcement of hose line systems. "Almost every German car model that has an air conditioning system also contains our components," explains Jörg Pfeiffer with some pride. "In addition, we develop and implement automated assembly systems for other supplier parts, such as fuel lines," continues Pfeiffer.
We are constantly looking for solutions to further improve both flexibility and efficiency in our machines. This is what brought about our cooperation with Festo and Siemens.Jörg Pfeiffer, Managing Partner at Riester GmbH
Highly dynamic and extremely flexible solution for transporting productsRiester GmbH provided the basic layout of the machine and the technical requirements of the process with regard to changeover times and the dimensions and key data of the workpiece carriers. Using this information, Festo and Siemens implemented a conveyor line with the Multi-Carrier-System (MCS).
The workpiece carriers driven by linear motors move flexibly to the process with precise synchronization
The transport system can be individually configured, including the seamless transfer of workpiece carriers to and from conventional transport systems. The other transport sections remain unchanged. In the machine, therefore, only the feed to the robot and the machining itself need to be equipped with the MCS, since a corresponding dynamic and exact positioning of the workpieces is necessary here. The entire return route of the workpiece carriers runs over a conventional chain system – which considerably reduces the conveyor technology costs compared to a transport system based entirely on linear technology. At the same time, the MCS allows the machine to be quickly converted to different workpiece carriers – currently eight different workpiece carriers are provided, each of which can be used for processing different types of fuel lines.
The entire automation solution is based on proven components so that Riester can guarantee its customers a reliable supply of spare parts at all times.
This is an aspect that is not to be underestimated, especially for Riester as a relatively small company with around 30 employees. The MCS is controlled by a SIMATIC S7-1500T controller and SINAMICS S120 converters. Another advantage of the solution is that Festo and Siemens can simulate the cycle times in advance. In this way, the software project can be verified before commissioning, making commissioning much easier and simpler. After configuration, the MCS was simply assembled, tested in advance at Festo using the original workpiece carriers, and then put into operation without any problems.
The dynamics of the system are particularly impressive. The workpiece carriers weigh up to 8.5 kg and are equipped with complex holders and positioning systems. The linear motors in the MCS can also dynamically accelerate and brake such loads via corresponding ramps, achieving changeover times that are up to five times faster than with conventional solutions. In this way, Riester can achieve the required cycle rate with a smaller number of workpiece carriers in the circuit. "That is why the MCS gives us an immediate payback: Otherwise we would certainly have to use ten more carriers, and with four different workpiece carriers, that makes a total of 40 carriers, each of which costs around 2,500 euros. You would certainly notice this in the overall costs," is Pfeiffer's assessment. The positive impression Riester had of the MCS then continued with the on-site commissioning. The conveyor line with the MCS was simply integrated into the appropriate station, put in to operation individually like the other stations, and finally joined together to form the complete machine. The team at Riester was thus able to work in parallel at several stations, so that the entire commissioning process was significantly faster than usual.
The MCS makes it easier to develop new solutions that extend beyond the existing business segments
With the MCS, Riester is now considerably more flexible in its process control: "In the past, we would have had to use several machines to produce several different formats, but today just one is sufficient. This is an important sales argument for our customers, if only for reasons of space. Then there is also the greater security of investment – I am not only able to cover this one assembly process with the system, but can also retrofit the system at any time. Our customers can therefore use the systems for many years to come."
In addition, after a brief introduction to the system, Riester can adapt the MCS on their own to match new requirements. "If we want to set up a new line or a new geometry, we basically only have to enter the relevant data via the HMI and teach the new positions for the workpiece carriers – without any time-consuming modifications to the machine or the control system. This enables us to refit or adapt the machines quickly. That is good for our customers, but also good for us. The MCS can be used wherever components are assembled or handled individually: from a door handle to an individually produced medical product. No matter which stations I combine and how, no matter how long the conveyor paths are – the MCS enables us to realize all this within a defined cycle time."
A system like this suddenly gives you so many ideas – and also the options for implementing these ideas.Jörg Pfeiffer, Managing Partner at Riester GmbH
System solution for more flexible production processesThe innovative transport solution ensures maximum flexibility in the machine. It breaks up the rigid concatenation of conventional transport routes and gives users the freedom to implement modular, flexible and dynamic production processes with maximum dynamic effect.
- Powerful control: Full integration of control and motion control tasks for the complete system
- Passive carriage without motor or active electronics for transportation with minimal wear and low vibration
- Simple, modular basic mechanical system