Lights out production reaches new heights

Renowned globally for its comprehensive range of robust workholding products, Lang Technik is now also earning a reputation for the highly-efficient, lights-out production capabilities of the company’s RoboTrex automation systems.

The recent installation of a Lang RoboTrex robotic system at the production facility of motorcycle and automotive brake aftermarket specialist, HEL Performance, is now enabling one of the company’s Brother VMCs to run unattended around the clock.

After gaining extensive experience within the hydraulics industry Simon Lane purchased the Hose-Equip company in 2000. The name Hose Equip Limited was soon shortened to HEL, and the HEL Performance brand was born. Following the acquisition, the new owners introduced an innovative new approach to the design and manufacture of motorcycle brake lines and established the foundations for the business’ current international success.

Having rejected the use of mild steel and aluminium, as metals that invariably corrode, HEL Performance systems began to use only stainless steel and titanium and became the first fully swaged brake lines in the UK market. As a pioneer in the use of superior materials and fully swaged brake lines, the company remains at the forefront of the design and manufacture of safer, permanently attached brake line fittings.

To remain one step ahead of the competition and to keep pace with technological advances, over the last five years HEL Performance has invested more than £3 million in new machine tools and related technology. Rising OEM business prompted the establishment of a standalone CNC milling department and the purchase of two Brother S700X1 machine tools and a Brother M140X2 machine.

Following the M140X2 VMC’s installation, motivated by ever increasing demand for the company’s in-house manufactured callipers and master cylinders, HEL Performance director, Simon Lane undertook a search for an efficient robotic system that would allow the Brother machine to operate unmanned 24/7.

Having dismissed several alternatives, a short-list of three high-quality automation systems, including a RoboTrex 52 robotic system from Lang Technik, was compiled. As each of the considered systems contained elements of Lang Technik technology, and as Mr Lane was already aware of the company’s reputation, an order was quickly placed with Lang Technik UK for the RoboTrex 52 system.

Following its installation and operator training, the new robotic system now operates unattended throughout the day, loading workpieces and unloading fully machined parts from the company’s Brother M140X2VMC. At the end of each day shift, the system’s storage trollies are restocked with further batches of workpieces, allowing the machine tool to operate unmanned throughout the night.

Mr Lane explains: “We have led our industry forward by pioneering radical concepts and designs in addition to advancing our manufacturing capabilities. Through our developments, we’ve created safer and more durable products. Over the past few years rising global demand for our products has inspired us to invest in a range of cutting-edge machine tools and associated equipment. Our Lang RoboTrex system has been a great success in this area. The system’s installation and integration was trouble-free, and it is so easy to use. Operator training was also very straightforward.

“Now, by ensuring that our M140X2 is able to produce master cylinders and callipers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without stopping, the Lang RoboTrex system has enabled the full productive potential of the Brother VMC it serves to be achieved. In fact, the combination of the Brother VMC and our Lang RoboTrex system has allowed us to break all of our previous efficiency records for the production of cylinders and callipers and enabled us to keep-pace with ever increasing customer demand for our products.”

Lang Technik UK director Gareth Barnet adds: “Strong competition, cost pressures and a shortage of skilled labour are some of the challenges UK business are currently facing. This is why a degree of automation is now being seen as an answer to increasing productivity, boosting operational efficiency, and by extension remaining competitive.

“Almost any machine tool, whether new or already in use, can be automated with the use of a RoboTrex system and our automation systems cover every need from single part machining to large-scale series production.

“Given the nature and cycle times of HEL Performance’s parts we were confident that the RoboTrex 52 system was the ideal solution to the company’s needs, as dependant on workpiece size, each of the system’s trolleys is able to hold between 30/42 vices, each loaded with workpieces. As the system is able to accommodate four trolleys with a total storage capacity of 120/168 vices, lights-out production became a reality.”

He continues: “It helped HEL Performance’s staff that, thanks to its easy-to-use operating system, no robotics knowledge is necessary, therefore specialised personnel are not needed and operator training is minimised. A simple to operate touch panel enables easy control of the automated system and, as external access to the trolley is possible, production remains seamless as machining cycles do not need to be interrupted.”

Lang Technik UK


Lang Technik

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