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Ian Melin-Jones

Ian Melin-Jones

NUM is helping the Taiwanese machine tool company Chien Wei Precise Technology to develop innovative CNC grinding machines for manufacturing specialist gears used in robotics applications.

Based entirely on NUM’s latest-generation Flexium+ 68 CNC platform, Chien Wei’s new machines are designed to speed the production of both involute and cycloidal profile precision gears. They are believed to be the first gear grinding machines on the market that are capable of handling both types of gear profile. There are two versions of the grinding machine, one for internal gears, the other for external gears.

Founded in 1981, Chien Wei Precise Technology Co., Ltd is based in Fengshan District in southern Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The company initially specialised in precision machine tools such as vertical grinders, jig grinders and machining centres, together with co-ordinate measuring machines (CMMs). Over time, it also diversified into robotic automation systems.

Reduction gearboxes for robotic applicationsReduction gearboxes for robotic applications

Robotic systems typically use either planetary gearboxes equipped with involute gears, or cycloid drives based on a combination of a reduced epitrochoid rotor and a cycloid stator. While planetary gearboxes have been around for a long time and enjoy extensive use, cycloid drives have far fewer moving parts and offer a more efficient means of achieving extremely high reduction rates. A speed reducer with a ratio of 200:1 would typically need a chain of three planetary gear boxes with twelve moving involute gears. The same reduction ratio could be achieved with a cycloid drive using one stator and one rotor. However, cycloid gears are notoriously difficult and expensive to manufacture.

In 2015, Chien Wei decided to bring gear manufacturing in-house, by developing its own gear grinding machine. By producing its own gearboxes the company could control quality, shorten lead times and reduce costs. It would also enable it to sell gearboxes to machine builders – and possibly the machines themselves to gear manufacturers.

Chien Wei initially based its gear grinding machine on a Fanuc series 0i-MF CNC system, which it uses for other machine tools, together with Mastercam CAD/CAM software and its own CMM. But it soon became apparent that the profile complexity of cycloidal gears meant that CMM data was inadequate for controlling the manufacturing process. Another major disadvantage was that customers wishing to purchase the machines would also need to invest in an expensive CAD/CAM system and extra personnel.

According to Chien Wei’s President, Mr Lee, “We quickly decided that what we needed was a CNC system that fully supported gear grinding from the outset, so that our customers could simply input the parameters of the gear they wanted, with the CNC then controlling all aspects of the machine’s dressing and grinding processes in real-time. NUM was an obvious choice, because of its proven expertise in CNC gear grinding applications. The company was also willing to collaborate in the joint development of the CNC system, which includes an application-specific HMI (human-machine interface) and various dedicated control functions.”

Typical cycloid gearboxTypical cycloid gearbox

The new generation of Chien Wei’s gear grinders together with NUM’s new profile grinding technology now provides the ability and flexibility to manufacture both cycloid and involute gears on the same machine.

Adrian Kiener, CSO Asia and Managing Director of NUM Taiwan, points out that this application highlights the importance of NUM’s decentralised support strategy. “By providing direct access to the CNC experts and extensive development facilities we have here in Taiwan, as well as those in many other countries around the world, we are able to provide our customers with a very fast response service that helps them shorten their time-to-market significantly. In combination with the knowledge and experience of our gear product group in Switzerland, this led to the complete package that NUM is providing. It includes the user interface, technology and calculations, as well as all the NC cycles.”

Chien Wei’s internal gear grinder is a 9-axis machine. The work piece table is mounted on a linear axis that moves axially towards the grinding wheel, which is belt-driven (due to space constraints inside the gear) and mounted on a vertical axis driven by a linear motor. As the grinding wheel spins, it is driven up and down by the linear axis, while the work piece table moves in continuously. Both flanks of the gear are ground simultaneously. The machine also handles gear dressing. During the dressing cycle, the entire tool head is moved horizontally to the right, and a symmetrical dressing disk moves along the outer shape of the grinding wheel in three sections, right/left flank and tip. Cycloids as well as involute shapes can be dressed.

The external gear grinder is an 8-axis machine. Broadly similar to the internal gear grinder in operational terms, it features a direct drive grinding wheel. Again, like the internal gear grinder, it also handles dressing. However, in this case the shape of the tooth gap can be reduced epitrochoids or involutes.

Manual correction of the gear tooth shapes is possible on either machine.

Both machines are controlled by NUM Flexium+ 68 CNC systems, equipped with NUM FS153i touch-sensitive operating panels. The application-specific HMI that has been jointly developed by NUM Taiwan and Chien Wei controls both the grinding and dressing cycles, and allows users to fully specify the required gear profile simply by entering the appropriate parameters. Graphical DXF (Drawing Interchange Format) files can be imported from – and exported to – CAD systems, and the system features a comprehensive database for grinding wheels and work pieces. The NC programs are generated entirely automatically, without any need for operator involvement.

As Johnny Wu, Sales Manager for NUM Taiwan, points out, “NUM’s open architecture CNC platforms, combined with the company’s willingness to partner with machine builders in developing application-specific solutions, is a key differentiator when it comes to choosing a CNC supplier.”

 

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The 22nd EMO will be opening its doors from 16 to 21 September 2019 in Hanover. Once again, the world's leading trade fair for metalworking is being held in Germany, the world's third largest machine tool market. "All major manufacturers of production technology will be presenting their products and services in Hanover at the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of industrial production. Nobody can afford to miss it," says Christoph Miller, Director Exhibitions of VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association) in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

  • Metalworking innovation platform attracts industry insiders and investors from all over the world
  • The megatopic of networking is changing industrial production

More than 2,000 exhibitors from 47 countries had applied till the middle of April. The companies include market leaders in all technology areas such as DMG Mori, FFG, Mazak, Siemens, Grob, Doosan, Fanuc, Okuma, Makino, Index, GF Machining Solutions, Chiron, Trumpf, SLM, Stratasys, Paul Horn, Iscar, Sandvik, Kuka and many, many more. New companies are joining them every day. More than 24 exhibitors have already registered from Great britain alone. Among others, Matrix Machine Tool, Castrol, M A Ford Europe Ltd., Holroyd Precisions Ltd., Filtermist International Ltd., will be present.

EMO Hannover is indeed the only truly international platform for metalworking. In contrast to all other trade fairs which describe themselves as international on the basis of their exhibitors, EMO Hannover also attracts trade visitors from all over the world. In 2017, just under half of the roughly 130,000 visitors travelled to Hanover from outside Germany, with around 160 countries represented. The proportion rose to 64 per cent for the exhibitors.

"EMO Hannover is the undisputed innovation platform for metalworking machines, solutions and services," emphasises Miller. In 2017, 72 per cent of the exhibitors said they brought innovations to Hanover that they had developed especially for EMO. This wouldn't happen at any other fair, according to Miller.

EMO Hannover showcasing smart technologies for the intelligent factory

EMO Hannover is addressing one of the biggest challenges facing the industry with its Smart technologies driving tomorrow's production! theme. "What is decisive for intelligent factories is the comprehensive networking of people, plants and business processes along the entire value chain," explains Miller from the VDW. Networking in industry is gaining momentum much faster because greater processor power is now available which makes the processing of large amounts of data possible in the first place. According to estimates by the international market research institute International Data Corporation, 30 billion private and industrial endpoints could be networked worldwide by 2020.

Smart technologies are the key to greater productivity, better quality and more flexibility. These are the classic goals for new and further developments in production technology. Digitalisation and intelligent factory networking also facilitate new functions such as process monitoring or predictive maintenance, which go one step further with self-learning machines based on smart data and data analysis. These create the basis for new business models like the platform economy, allowing customers and providers to reach the next level of efficiency.

The top priority of almost every EMO exhibitor is to offer creative new solutions. New Industry 4.0 concepts are emerging in all areas: for machines, components, controls, measuring systems and material flows. "We are convinced that EMO Hannover 2019 will be a hotspot for new offerings and solutions for the smart factory," says Miller.

IoT in Production – A key focus of EMO Hannover 2019

IoT will be bundled in various constellations at EMO Hannover in order to highlight all facets of Industry 4.0:

Dedicated exhibition area for IoT in production This section is reserved for individual exhibitors in the field of control technology, software and automation technology. Established control manufacturers such as Beckhoff, Bosch, Fanuc, Heidenhain and Siemens, but also engineering consortiums such as Adamos and Axoom, presented their IT platforms at EMO Hannover in 2017. "We know that this exhibition area also offers a highly attractive environment for IT providers such as IBM, HP, GE, SAP, Microsoft Oracle, Telekom and others if they want to boost their business with manufacturers of production technology," says Miller. EMO Hannover provides an ideal platform for this because all decision-makers from the entire production technology value chain are there – and interested in everything from product development to production, quality management and logistics. "Production planners today not only invest in machines, they also want to see integrated solutions, and no other trade fair offers this in such a concentrated form as EMO Hannover," sums up Miller.

Special show: Industry 4.0 area - smart solutions for your business Innovative companies and renowned research institutes present intelligent solutions aimed at boosting their customers' business success in the Industry 4.0 area. These include intelligent components for process monitoring or operator support, solutions that ensure smooth data flow with maximum data security, and much more. The special show will also feature representatives from the field of research who will be presenting the current state of scientific development. In addition, the specialist forum will offer participants the opportunity to discuss existing products as well as future visions with a broad specialist audience. The VDW is developing the special show together with the Konradin Media Group.

National stands National stands will also be featured in this area. Until now we have the application from China, Taiwan and Switzerland. VDW is still in discussion with France and Japan. They all have their own national Industry 4.0 or IoT initiatives and are cordially invited to present them at EMO Hannover 2019.

Industry 4.0 Trend Forum In addition, the VDW has joined forces with the Software association of the VDMA (German Engineering Federation), the umbrella organisation for mechanical and plant engineering, the second-largest customer sector for machine tools. Together they are organising a high-calibre forum on the latest Industry 4.0 and machine learning trends, including presentations and panel discussions which will run throughout the EMO. The future of work will constitute a further focus.

umati – a common language for Industry 4.0 The interface standard for machine tools based on OPC UA, with all its functionalities, will finally be presented at EMO Hannover 2019. This provides neutral and open connection of machines to higher-level IT systems. It is a prerequisite for the success of Industry 4.0. Only then can data from different machine manufacturers with different control systems be transferred to ERP and MES systems or into the cloud. There they are further processed or evaluated and thus form the basis of new services and functions.

This connectivity is the key to all the added value and business models that the economy hopes Industry 4.0 will yield. Small and medium-sized companies in particular are counting on being able to connect their machines effectively in order to participate in the new IoT developments. This will help them concentrate on their core competences in their daily business.

This is why the VDW together with eight well-known German machine tool manufacturers and all major control suppliers launched the umati interface more than a year ago. umati stands for universal machine tool interface. To date, more than 20 use cases have been defined: these include at-a-glance overview of production, program progress and machine status, handling of a production order, creation of error statistics, and operating status in a time stream. They are described by over 100 relevant parameters, e.g. "Machine running yes/no". A joint working group was set up for OPC UA at the end of 2018. The international machine tool community is now able to participate in revising and disseminating the standard.

The goal is to present a complete implementation of the specification at EMO Hannover 2019 – to the extent that it is available by then – together with a larger number of partners. "The VDW is assuming that the first products will also be offered in which preconfigured OPC UA servers are integrated directly into the respective control units based on the specification, explains Miller.

EMO Hannover presenting topics on the future of industrial production

EMO Hannover 2019 will be addressing all the production-related challenges, from machine technology and IT solutions through to the changing world of work. It will be highlighting how much more productive, efficient and flexible the next generations of machines will be. With many supporting events, it will show how networked production is increasingly spreading to all areas. Order processing, production preparation and planning, manufacturing and logistics will all change. New functions and services are being created. And the people working in industry need to be given the skills to perform these tasks. "EMO Hannover 2019 has plenty to offer on all these topics. The EMO organisers will be complementing the exhibitors' offerings with a wide range of supporting events and special shows. EMO will once again be a Mecca for international production technology and point the way for development in the coming years," concludes Miller of the VDW.   

EMO Hannover 2019 – the world’s premier trade fair for the metalworking sector

From 16 to 21 September 2019, international manufacturers of production technology will be spotlighting smart engineering at the EMO Hannover 2019.

Under the motto of “Smart technologies driving tomorrow’s production”, the world’s premier trade fair for the metalworking industry will be showcasing the entire bandwidth of modern-day metalworking technology, which is the heart of every industrial production process.

The fair will be presenting the latest machines, plus efficient technical solutions, product-supportive services, sustainability in the production process, and much, much more.

The principal focus of the EMO Hannover is on metal-cutting and forming machine tools, production systems, high-precision tools, automated material flows, computer technology, industrial electronics and accessories.

The trade visitors to the EMO come from all major sectors of industry, such as machinery and plant manufacturers, the automotive industry and its component suppliers, the aerospace sector, precision mechanics and optics, shipbuilding, medical technology, tool and die manufacture, steel and lightweight construction.

The EMO Hannover is the world’s most important international meeting point for production technology specialists from all over the planet.

The EMO Hannover 2017 attracted almost 2,230 exhibitors from 44 different countries, and around 130,000 trade visitors from 160 nations. EMO is a registered trademark of the European Association of the Machine Tool Industries CECIMO.

Lesjöfors, one of Europe’s leading manufacturer of springs, pressings and wire parts acquires Spirbelt Beheer B.V., which includes its two subsidiaries Tribelt and De Spiraal in the Netherlands.

De Spiraal is a manufacturer of technical springs and industrial wire products with a diversified customer base, serving various markets such as the food, pharmaceutical and energy industries. Tribelt manufactures a broad mix of conveyor belts for customers within the food, processing and pharmaceutical industries. The companies are well established in the market and have long-lasting, stable customer relationships.

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The company’s revenues amount to MEUR 14 primarily in the European market with favourable profitability.

Lesjöfors’s President, Kjell-Arne Lindbäck, comments on the transaction: “De Spiraal and Tribelt are companies that fit well into Lesjöfors’s European platform, with a diversified customer base and opportunities for cross sales with our existing businesses. In addition, Tribelt will open up a new market for Lesjöfors with conveyor belt applications.”

The sellers and Managing Directors, René Spoelder and René Frielink, commented on the transaction: “We are happy for the company to become a part of a group specialized in springs and pressings. We also appreciate the decentralized structure of Lesjöfors and are looking forward to staying on and continuing to develop the company further.”

The Lesjöfors Group continues to grow
Over the years, Lesjöfors, owned by Beijer Alma, has conducted a number of acquisitions and established strong platforms in the Nordic region, other areas of Europe, North America and Asia. Following the latest acquisition of Tribelt and De Spiraal, Lesjöfors strengthens its position in Central Europe and broaden the wide product range further with conveyor belt applications. The Lesjöfors Group now consists of 26 production units in 13 countries. 

For further information, please contact: 
Kjell-Arne Lindbäck, CEO Lesjöfors AB
telefon: +46 (0) 705 74 99 94

Lesjöfors is one of the leading spring suppliers with internationally well known customers. The products are demanded in many markets, in diverse industries. The assortment of springs, stampings and pressings has a unique range, where one of the largest selections of standard springs are combined with high-tech, customized solutions. Lesjöfors has both manufacturing and sales offices in several European countries, Asia, United States and Mexico.

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