Increased productivity and safety in industrial applications
Looking forward, which components and production solutions will it take to successfully shape demanding industrial sectors through higher productivity, reliability and precision? At this year’s Hannover Messe, Stäubli, one of the world’s leading providers of mechatronic solutions, is presenting a broad lineup of groundbreaking new products and technologies in robotics, connectors and textiles. Centre stage is the tireless innovative spirit that helps Stäubli’s customers reliably improve the productivity of their machinery and processes on an ongoing basis.
From safe robots for the most demanding levels of human-robot collaboration, to lightweight and compact tool changers and reliable connector solutions with higher contact durability, to production processes for new technical textiles made from high-module fibers – at the Hannover Messe, Stäubli is showcasing how far-reaching new solutions can efficiently and reliably shape production processes at the most important interfaces of Industry 4.0.
HelMo – the mobile robot system masters real life applications
HelMo, the autonomous robot system is once again set to attract plenty of attention at the Hannover Messe. Having first presented its approach for the next level of human-robot collaboration (HRC) at last year’s show, HelMo has now matured and is also able to prove itself in practice. “HelMo is the new generation of high-performance robots that work fully autonomously, with the ability to navigate a diverse array of working environments, gather their own materials and then carry out the work,” says Gerald Vogt, Group Division Manager Robotics at Stäubli. “HelMo represents the next level of human-robot collaboration, whereby robots mix with human beings and work together with them or handle monotonous tasks on their own,” Stäubli is currently testing future usage scenarios that will be possible with HelMo in its own production, where technicians are working side-by-side with the mobile HelMo robot system in areas such as the installation of electrical connectors for coupling systems. “HelMo is also working flawlessly on monotonous and strenuous processes, which relieves the workforce of undesirable jobs and makes it an incredibly popular coworker as a result,” continues Vogt. “In fact, we see it less as a robot and more as an assistant able to work flexibly as and when required.”
Stäubli’s system features a high-performance standard robot with minimal modifications – in this case, a robot from the reliable, high-precision TX2 range. It’s a concept that makes perfect sense, with Stäubli having offered an extensive assortment of sector-specific robotic solutions for many years. The TX2 range includes variants for cleanroom and sterile applications, damp conditions and foodstuffs and as the TX2touch version for direct human-robot collaboration.
Gerald Vogt explains why Stäubli chose not develop a dedicated assistance robot: “Robots designed purely for assistance are subject to significant restrictions in load capacity, dynamic characteristics, reach or precision. However, we wanted to qualify our TX2 standard robots for direct collaboration with people while retaining the full extent of their performance potential for working in non-HRC situations. HelMo therefore has a modular structure. Equipped with an automatic tool changing system, it can further enhance the performance of a TX2 six-axis robot.”
Lightweight and compact tool changers for robots
At the Hannover Messe, the company’s range of lightweight and compact solutions demonstrates that tool-changing systems for robots are among the core competences of Stäubli Connectors. While Stäubli has concentrated in the past primarily on tool changers in the higher load range up to 1,530 kg, it is now offering an array of more compact systems. Showcased in Hanover are the MPS 130 and MPS 260, two smaller ranges conceived for a broad range of applications across all industrial sectors.
“A particular feature is their weight-optimized configuration, which means the user does not have to invest in robots from the next-highest load class,” says Norbert Ermer, General Manager, Stäubli Fluid Connectors, Germany. “The weight of the MPS 130 is just 1.8 kg for the robot side and only 1.1 kg for the tool side. The system also scores extremely high marks for its maximum load capacity of 100 kg and 900 Nm of bending moment.” Just like the larger models, the lightweight and compact tool changers fulfill category 3 performance level d safety requirements. To guarantee maximum functional reliability, Stäubli is the only manufacturer worldwide to develop and build the changers entirely in-house. Thus, the systems can also be equipped with customer-specific modules for media, data and electricity transmission.
Reliable connectors for a connected Industry 4.0
However, efficient execution of production processes in the age of Industry 4.0 calls not only for intelligent machine technologies, but also new forms of signal and data transmission. With Stäubli’s electrical connectors the mechatronics provider is able to offer its customers reliable connector solutions with high contact durability that helps improve the efficiency and system stability of production processes.
“The modular design of our in-house designed CombiTac connector facilitates tailor-made configuration of hybrid connectors. This includes connectors for power supply and industrial ethernet as well as various types of media couplings for pneumatics and fluids up to 15 bar,” says Thomas Spindler, Head of Sales & Marketing at Stäubli Electrical Connectors in Germany. “CombiTac thus addresses the changing requirements for intelligent, self-monitoring machines and components, and fulfills the increased need for signal and data connectors.” At the same time, CombiTac is compact in its design and powerful in its performance. All necessary power, signal, data, hydraulic and fluid connections within the module system can be combined in one single connector. CombiTac enables up to 320 signal contacts with just one connector. In combination with the ethernet module, it can achieve data rates of up to 10 Gbit/s. CombiTac can also be configured with electrical contacts for currents of up to 400 A or voltages up to 5000 V.
At the heart of every Stäubli connector is the tried-and-tested, reliable MULTILAM contact technology, which is a major contributor to the endurance and performance of the CombiTac connector system. The patented MULTILAM technology guarantees minimal voltage loss, low contact resistance and extremely high resistance to vibration, shocks or impact. It ensures a secure connection for up to 100,000 mating cycles.
Interwoven with industry through high-module fibers for technical textiles
Stäubli is also showcasing its innovativeness in its longest-standing division, Textiles. The company offers new technologies for technical textiles made from high-module fibers such as carbon, glass and aramid, which are gaining in significance in many industry sectors. “The scope of application for technical textiles is far from exhausted,” says Stefan Süppel, General Manager Stäubli Textile, Germany. “In particular, the combination of diverse yarns in one weave, the production of multilayer textiles and new kinds of three-dimensional spacer fabrics are opening up whole new avenues for creative compositions and sales markets.”
To address the growing market demand for technical textiles, Stäubli has developed a modular weaving system that offers individualized equipment configuration as well as excellent flexibility. It facilitates virtually unlimited weave diversity, be it for flat, spacer or complex, multilayer textiles. Stäubli’s shedding equipment in combination with the double-gripper weft-insertion system and a special batten motion enables highly productive manufacturing of high-density weaves as well as efficient processing of a diverse range of technical and extremely delicate yarns.
“Because damage of the carbon yarn lessens the quality of the textile, it’s vital to ensure protection of the yarn during the weaving process,” says Stefan Süppel. “The technologies integrated into Stäubli’s TF20 range of weaving systems, such as the free-move rapier, meet the most demanding requirements.” The weaving system is offered in a modular format and equipped for optimum shedding with Stäubli’s proven shaft and Jaquard machines.
Stäubli is a mechatronics solutions provider with three dedicated activities: Connectors, Robotics and Textile. With a global workforce of over 4,500, the company generates annual turnover surpassing 1.1 billion Swiss francs. Originally founded in 1892 as a small workshop in Horgen/Zurich, today Stäubli is an international group headquartered in Pfäffikon, Switzerland. Worldwide, Stäubli operates twelve industrial production sites and 29 subsidiaries, expanded with a network of agents in 50 countries, delivering innovative solutions to all industrial sectors. www.staubli.com/en/profile