Loading and unloading of production machines in automotive manufacturing
Special unloading units for bent piping and loading of an internal high-pressure forming press. High degree of flexibility as a result of employing a magnetic gripper changing system and gripper station.


Task: Automation to alleviate the pressure of working conditions for operating staff

Bent pipes that are produced within an internal high-pressure forming (IHF) process are frequently used in automotive production. Internal high-pressure forming (IHF) involves internally filling a pipe with a high-pressure medium within a press. This causes the pipe to expand and take on the form of the press.

The pipes have to be placed into the press. However, because the pipes are large, heavy and cumbersome and also frequently leak water, which makes both the machine and tool extremely slippery, manual insertion of the pipes by the operating staff cannot be maintained over long periods.

Solution: Simple and safe handling of parts by high-performance gripper components

To facilitate loading and unloading of the pipe processing machine, we constructed an unloading unit that transports the wet, slippery parts to the robotic cell via a chain conveyor. One robot picks up the parts and loads the IHF press, while a second robot unloads the press following processing. The finished pipes are channelled out of the cell via two chutes.

Both robots are equipped with magnetic gripper changing systems. The gripper station hangs on swinging doors, above which the grippers can be swung in and out of the cell. This enables diverse parts to be handled directly throughout process operation. During non-productive periods the grippers can be re-tooled outside the cell to handle different parts.

Coordination of robot movements is facilitated using a Siemens S7 controller and WinCC visualisation. The cell’s comprehensive protective housing features various access points that are safeguarded by a Pilz PSS 3006.

Benefits of this loading and unloading cell:

  • planning, software programming and commissioning by one service provider
  • no interface problems between the various disciplines
  • programming of robots, safety SPS and SPS from a single source
  • transparent interface structure
  • minimum downtime through visualisation of the missing signals
  • gateways for safety signals enable optimal diagnosis of the safety functions
  • only one point of contact throughout the entire project
  • holistic concept
  • excellent operability