Schuler is a globally renowned company within the field of body construction, Regardless of the logo, VW, Audi, Ford, Fiat, Mercedes, Rolls Royce, BMW, or Porsche and no matter which country an automobile is assembled, or the materials used, the result is produced by multi-tonne presses marked with a single name: Schuler.
Schuler’s history stretches back 175 years. Founded in Goeppingen, Germany in 1839 by Louis Schuler, the company originally specialised in the construction of machines for forming sheet metal. In 1924 Schuler presented the first body construction press for the mass production of automobiles. Today, with revenues exceeding one billion (Euro?), Schuler is a leading worldwide press manufacturers and is the undisputed leader in forming technology. The company’s product portfolio now includes more than just presses, Schuler now supplies a comprehensive range of processing technology for the metal processing industry. This includes component transport for the automotive industry that ensures that the body components, formed in the press, are safely and efficiently transported to the next step in the process chain.
WHERE THE AUTOMOBILE TAKES SHAPE
Presses are at the very heart of automobile production, their massive dimensions provide the visual centerpiece for every vehicle production factory. They manufacture the body components that are processed further in subsequent production steps, resulting in the finished body shell that clearly shows the form of the finished vehicle.
ENSURING A PERFECT FIT
Automobile production today is largely a fully automated process, especially in the area of body construction, were minimal amounts of manual labour is required. Ensuring that component transfer is conducted efficiently is therefore crucial, so that formed components are transported within the press to the next production step.
Transporting components within the press lines often involves large distances. So the large, spherical working volume of the FARO Vantage Laser Tracker
proved to be a decisive advantage.
Rainer Graf, PD-WQT Mechanical Inspection, Schuler Pressen GmbH, always seems to find himself in the middle of the construction or reconstruction of press systems. Rainer works in Quality Assurance at Schuler and is responsible for the inspection of mechanical systems at the customer’s site. “As the customer’s direct contact, we are responsible for addressing problems at their root and for inspecting new or modified systems.”
Graf and his colleagues are constantly in the field involved in inspecting the individual intermediary steps involved in system assembly, verifying press geometry, and ensuring that the press is not only built according to the plan, but guaranteeing it integrates seamlessly into the existing production environment.
A typical example is Schuler’s contract with a leading automobile manufacturer. In addition to modifying the company’s presses to accommodate a new vehicle model, the component transport system also needed to be upgraded to meet current technical standards. For the improved system, Schuler used a new electronic 3-axle transfer system that enables markedly higher output, and has had a positive impact on efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
A decisive feature of the system is its tried-and-tested, direct feed drive. This is based on highly dynamic servo drives and results in a dramatic increase in speed, that can be scaled to meet the customer’s need in the given production environment.
PRECISION AND FLEXIBLE MEASURING CAPABILITES
Obviously a press system of up to 30 metres in length must be placed exactly in the right position in the production environment. Also, despite the often considerable distances between them, the individual components of the component transport must be located exactly down to the last millimeter. In the past, Schuler used conventional optical measurement systems for this demanding task. Today, however, these demanding measurement tasks are performed with the aide of an advanced FaroArm Platinum
and a FARO Vantage Laser Tracker
Above all, Rainer Graf values these precise FARO
systems for their mobility. Not only can they be easily carried to the site where the equipment is being assembled, they can be set up quickly and easily to generate highly accurate measurement results with minimal effort.
PRECISION OVER LONG DISTANCES
Both FARO systems have their special advantages and complement each other perfectly.
Rainer Graf explained. “The Laser Tracker provides concrete benefits when it comes to fine adjustments, inspections, and acceptance procedures directly on site. With large presses, we have to use the Laser Tracker. “When dealing with an individual press or a transfer up to a maximum of 2 metres, the FaroArm is quicker and more flexible.”
Due to its spherical working volume of up to 160metres, the Laser Tracker is capable of handling even the largest of machines and mechanical systems, allowing exact measurement with a tolerance of 0.015 mm per metre. In addition, the Laser Tracker can be used in combination with the FaroArm so that on-site engineers have an even more dynamic, flexible measurement system that they can optimally configure to tackle a wide range of measuring tasks.
Rainer Graf offers a realistic assessment: “The Laser Tracker cannot fully replace conventional measurement procedures. But it offers real advantages when it comes to fine adjustment, inspection
and acceptance procedures, that are carried-out directly on site, where the conventional measurement technology reaches its limits.”
This is especially true in the last, hectic phase of a project, as at the Factory Acceptance Test, it must be guaranteed that everything fits properly and that all functions are working together perfectly.
As in many other industries, the pace of development in the automotive industry is growing ever faster. Increasingly short time-to-market cycles determine the overall process, which in turn affects machine and system engineering. With the combination of the flexibility and precision provided by the FARO measurement system, Schuler saves valuable work time during installation and commissioning and achieves the company’s high precision targets quicker and with lower costs.
For more information about Schuler Pressen GmbH visit: www.schulergroup.com
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