Moving ForwardApril 12th, 2023 by Nathan Hobbs
Machinery Makers Have a Continual Eye on Ease and Automation
Door and window manufacturers battle labor shortages, yet look to churn out hundreds or even thousands of units per day. Automation remains key to the industry’s forward progress, but it hasn’t been easy for machinery companies to deliver. With supply chain issues of their own and microchip shortages to deal with, they’ve done more than just find ways to install product, they’ve beat the odds by carving out improvements and upgrades to equipment and software along the way.
Here’s a look at some of the companies leading the way and their latest developments:
Aiming for Perfection
When Urban Machinery’s engineers set out to create the AKS 9600-CUT horizontal multi-head welding machine, the questions they asked were: “How do you correct for the sins of the saw? How do you handle a profile that has a foil on it, or something that’s coextruded? How do your cutters work with that and not squirrel it all up so that it looks horrible?” recounts Mitchell Heckbert, vice president of sales and service.
Available with four, six or eight heads, Urban’s machine was designed for welding with or without weld seam formation and for aluminum covers. The 9600’s flexibility makes it suitable for profile welding—with or without a cut function—with foiled, coated or co-extruded surfaces.
It also tackles all surface materials and white profiles can be machined conventionally or with high temperature. And when it comes to weld lines, you’ll need a magnifying glass to find them, because the machine applies a relief cut to eliminate any residual vinyl.
How did they do it?
“We now have a cutting head that goes between during the weld cycle and relief cuts the profile to provide a perfect seamless weld,” Heckbert says. Instead of cutting or grinding extras away, “It never produces the residual vinyl to begin with,” he says. Protective foil can remain on the profile for each welding method, thanks to a welding and milling process that’s controlled via 19 servo axes.
Oz Machine just announced a new option that’s designed to tackle all of the machining processes for profiles in a single stop—including drilling, milling and opening slots. The ALCOR – V Cutting and Machining Center was developed to perform cutting, surface treatment and end milling operations of wide aluminum and PVC profiles. The machine is designed to achieve the highest efficiency via units that operate independently of each other, allowing the same machine to cut and notch profiles to accurate length.
“All of these processes can be finished in a single machine, with a single operator,” says Adil Sasmaz, the company’s managing director. “We improved our previous cutting and machining center with a five-axis cutting head, so we can perform different cutting and notching options in a single station.”
After spotting what Sasmaz says was “a gap in the industry,” the company’s engineers took one of its existing machines and improved upon the design. What was an automated straight-cutting solution for standard mass production is now a one-stop station. While producers were previously required to drill holes after cutting pieces, by adding a drilling feature, “They don’t need to do two different processes in two different stations,” he says.
No Need for Programming
“Our newest system is rolling out as we speak,” says Tim Minne, president of Mecal.
The company remains focused on automation, he says, as “everyone continues to have the same trouble in acquiring people and labor.” But some of its latest developments come from software.
This year, the company introduced a new software package that allows systems to accept ISO code or XML from an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The same system also accepts data for doors and windows.
“It goes right to the machine from XML, eliminating the need for programming and human error,” Minne says.
While some systems use proprietary codes that lock them into specific formats, “We’ve broken away from that,” he says. “We can use many different types of codes from various sources and integrate them into people’s systems.” The software is also capable of importing data from solid models, which it analyzes and writes into code.
Among the company’s lineup is the MC312 Taurus 5 Axis Machining Centre, an enclosed 8-meter (315-inch), five-axis machining center for high-speed machining of aluminum, steel, brass, copper and PVC materials. According to the company, the MC312 is on average 30% faster than other similar machines and can be used in numerous applications, including doors and windows.
• Motorized clamps in MMI or MDT option
• Full CAM-3D software
• Centralized 12-tool automatic magazine
• Automatic centralized lubrication system
Keep Production Rolling
ANCA’s wood tool production package for the company’s FX5 and FX7 CNC machines offers flexibility and additional capabilities for unattended production. Special tooling systems offer the ability to change automated production between wood-working profile blades easily, used to form skirting boards and architraves, and solid round shank tools, such as routers and drills used in production. Two options offer versatility: a blade chuck to hold flat profile blades, or a PremierPlus collet chuck for holding round shank tools. Both systems are actuated with the same pull
stud mechanism, so switching can be performed in minutes. The same goes for robot automation, which has been configured to allow for easy change among profile blades and round-shank solid carbide tools, including spirals, compression routers and drills—all without having to change grippers or re-train positions. For added flexibility, FX machines are offered with grinding spindle power options ranging from 12kW up to 19kW, and include two wheel packs as a standard feature, with options for up to six. An optional LaserPlus feature is mounted inside of the machine, for a no-contact system that automatically measures and compensates for tool diameter. For compression routers, it will even measure both up and down cut sections to ensure they are consistent.
Jack of All Markets
For those in need of added flexibility for door production, “We have a new APEX CNC machine, which encompasses the interior, exterior and architectural and commercial markets,” says
Danielle Swartz, sales department manager for Kval. The 990-APEX leverages Kval’s patented KvalCAM software to provide complete control of all machine movement and precision cutting, allowing manufacturers to serve several markets with a single solution. Four independent CNC heads route for 3-inch to 4-1/2- inch hinges, allowing users to specify location, depth, radius
and pre-drill patterns from a control panel for both doors and jambs. Clockwise and counter-clockwise high-frequency spindles eliminate material chip-out without the need for blocks and a third spindle is designated for point-to-point pre-drilling of any hole pattern. Routers mounted on the CNC tower in the lock section can machine an entire lock edge, making it possible to complete preps for three-point locks, deep mortise locks, flush bolts and more. Face work in the lock section is completed with vertical spindles mounted on the same CNC tower, allowing for function holes from different size bores and irregular shapes.
Ready for Anything
Haeco’s PRO-GLAZE and PRO-SET glass lay-in solutions are never a finished work, says CEO Jerry Henline. Instead, engineers enhanced the features and advantages of its latest models.
To demonstrate, the company recently showcased an installation with a 20-foot driven conveyor infeed that can accommodate multiple lite openings for glazing, while automatically adjusting to different profiles, variable lengths and number of openings. After completion of glazing cycles, frames are lifted and transferred to a PRO-SET solution that utilizes “smart” lift pins to manage profile interference. Glass panels are then manually placed on the lift pins by an operator and lowered evenly into place with a touch switch. The company’s PRO-GLAZE 8400 includes a new linear bearing design, with hardened metal-to-metal exterior mechanical surfaces, while internal bearing surfaces are sealed permanently and are impervious to dust and dirt infiltration.
Integrated Automation Systems (IAS) expects automated racking to be its biggest growth sector over the next few years, says Ryan McHugh, president. The company first introduced its AutoRack1 line for racking insulating glass units (IGUs) on horizontal lines, before adding vertical lines. Then, late last year came one of its first setups for monolithic glass, which is being used for doors.
AutoRack1 is an automated system that racks without an operator at speeds of up to six units per minute. Officials say the machine reduces scratches and glass damage, when compared to standard methods, while also improving safety by eliminating handling.
The system is capable of racking glass off most insulating glass (IG) and tempering lines, while handling oversized units and working with Intercept, Super Spacer, Duralite and other spacer systems. Meanwhile, when the company says “fully automatic” it means fully automatic. There are no workers involved.
“After the receiving process, the glass gets put up to a vertical conveyor. It fits into our vertical conveyor, which changes the height tilts forward, and then automatically slots it into our rack,” McHugh says. “Our rack then indexes to the next slot for the next piece of glass, so it’s fully automatic. There’s no person at the racking station.”
AutoRack1 for Intercept and other horizontal lines offers cycle times as fast as one unit per every eight seconds. The system includes the option for reading barcodes and can label units prior to racking.
Smarter Is Faster
GED expanded the reach of its CleanCut 1800 Series by adding a cutting only model (1800) and an edge deletion and cutting model (1800-D). The series is designed to complement the CleanCut 1700, while scaling to accommodate larger glass— up to 96 inches by 130 inches. Systems combine patented technologies in hardware and software, allowing customers to produce more insulating glass units (IGUs) per shift, more efficiently and at higher quality, officials suggest.
Meanwhile, some of the latest developments arrive via improvements to GED’s software—some of which make the system even faster and more productive without mechanical upgrades. The company began optimizing its algorithms as early as the 1990s, but, “The horsepower of today’s computers and parallel processing, and running multi-thread type applications of CPUs has helped us to do things that weren’t previously possible,” says Tim McGlinchy, executive vice president of engineering.
After utilizing data to analyze cycle times for cutting, “One thing that really jumped out at us was the cycle time that was chewed up with non-scoring or edge deleting actions, such as head up and down,” says Tony DiFiore, the company’s software R&D manager. “We focused our efforts on trying to optimize those as best we can, and what we introduced on the 1700 and the 1800 is, when the glass sheet is being scored, the cutting head doesn’t raise fully to the up position between moves. We have an intermediate move, that we call the cue stop.”
A cue stop now halts the head from traveling up and down unnecessarily, making the system faster and more efficient, DiFiore says.
Next, the software team shifted its focus to the sequence of moves per glass sheet, for scoring edges and deleting.
“We spent quite a bit of time and effort to try to optimize the movement of the bridge,” DiFiore says. “We’re always trying to go to the next nearest move in the process and streamlining that to give us the best time when we’re completing any cutting or edge deletion.”
Tests conducted by the company using four different cut patterns have shown a 44% improvement in processing time over an 8-hour shift, compared to similar machines. This equates to 159 sheets of glass processed in an eight-hour shift, officials say. Add in the company’s software and yields improve by an additional 3.5%.
Automatic Dry Bending
FUX added a 33-PB-00 fully automatic profile bending system to its portfolio of profile bending and wrapping/lamination machinery. As a leader in hot air, vinyl profile bending systems, company officials say it’s the first to offer an option for dry profile bending.
The 33-PB-00 fully automatic bending system is designed for fast, accurate inline production, as well as single-piece production. An oversized bending table allows for high loads and the production of any type of bending shape for an all-in-one system. Many arches, including half rounds, rounds, straight sided, gothic, cage arches, segments and positive and negative arches, as well as special forms now all can be produced from the same machine.
Up to 19 servo axes are regulated via input on a touchscreen display. Bending radius is entered after which a radius adjustment system positions the chuck element and fixtures. Profiles are inserted together with outward forms. A belt then slides along the outer form of the preheated flexible profile, which is fixed laterally with a clamping lever, while a pressing plate lowers to prevent rippling. The result is an optimum bend quality, company officials say. The bending machine opens automatically after a set cooling time, because FUX profile bending machines work “dry,” thanks to a hot air powered oven.
With the company’s Office Control System, all relevant data, including temperatures, speed and production run meters, are collected and stored in a database, ensuring that every production process is accurately traceable.
Robots Do the Lifting
Officials for Erdman say their company is unique in that it focuses on all facets of window manufacturing and can therefore help companies to integrate departments for safer, more efficient flow-through automation.
One of the company’s recent innovations includes a robot that can be used to unload its Dura or Flexible Foam High Speed IG Line. The robot can unload
directly into a prepared sash or onto a glass staging rack. As a result, manufacturers can reduce the chance of injury from unloading large, heavy insulating glass units (IGUs) and reduce the number of operators required to run the line to two or three people.
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