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December 2017

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Pallet Handling Systems Expansion Includes Rotary Loading System

Liebherr has expanded its product range in the field of automation systems with the new PHS Allround.

Higher efficiency and simple operation are the goals of an intelligent automation concept independently of the size and weight of the part. Such systems shift the set-up of the workpieces from the machine to a separate set-up station and store the pre-fitted workpieces in an intermediate storage area. The setting up and the machining are thus decoupled. The pre-fitted workpieces stored in the system compensate for short and long machine running times, and allow shifts with very little or even no manpower at all, which in turn allows unit prices to be optimized by up to 20%.

"How do we increase machine capacity utilization and reduce workforce levels at the same time - with the goal of reducing unit costs? That question can be asked for both large- and small-scale series production. Small parts or large workpieces: the task remains the same," stressed Martin Winterstein, Director Global Business Development and Sales Channels Automation Systems at Kempten (Germany).

New Technology for Rotary Loading System (RLS)

A rotary loading system for one or two machine tools is the entry-level model. This RLS has an optimized fork for better accessibility to the working area in the machining center. The longer telescopic lift allows the incorporation of machines in the automation system, which was up to date, impossible because of the working area and the cab's characteristics. For example, the operator's area has been expanded to include direct-loading vertical five-axle machining centers. In the current project, the modular design of the RLS series allows a combination of different interference diameters in the shelves and additionally increased storage space with a turret in a single system. For the customer, it is important that the system has two set-up stations, despite the tight space available.

"For all Liebherr pallet handling systems (RLS, PHS Pro and PHS Allround), there is a new cell control on the market in 2017," said a company spokesperson. "Simple operation is the main priority. The new graphically-guided interface concentrates functions on the main computer in a user-friendly manner, and if required also allows full production control." This includes resource planning, cutting tools and NC data management. There are also interfaces to the ERP systems.

The development engineers at Kempten (Germany) implemented a new concept for the PHS-Pro set-up stations. Further standardization of the set-up stations and the introduction of the modular concept means that functions, such as motor-driven rotation, moving, turning or tilting can be realized. The milling/turning precision set-up station is becoming ever more important and remains in the range.

The special characteristics of the PHS Pro include the front access option. This is essential in machining centers in which the design only allows operator intervention at the front side. Front access is designed such that a cordoned off safety area allows the operator access to the system during ongoing operation. The other machines connected to the pallet handling system can still be used in parallel automatic mode.

The weight class PHS 10000 Pro (designed for transport loads up to 16 tons) was only introduced in 2015 and features its first installations in the fields of machine construction large engine production. Two different large-scale machining centers (a 5-axis milling center and a milling/turning center) have been combined to form a single system at our own site in Kempten. All machine beds and other machine subassemblies of Liebherr-Verzahntechnik are now manufactured on this in three-shift operations. Another system has been in operation at Liebherr-Machines Bulle (Switzerland) since 2016. It is used to machine large diesel engine cylinder blocks (up to V20).

Liebherr specially developed the compact class PHS Allround for universal users. "The PHS Allround closes the gap between our entry-level solution with the RLS rotary loading system and the individually configurable PHS Pro pallet handling system," explained Winterstein.

The Liebherr PHS Allround pallet handling system offers a large group of users to enter the world of flexible production in combination with 4- and 5-axis machining centers. The new modular concept in three weight classes for loads up to three tons is flexible and can be individually configured and expanded. This corresponds to pallet sizes of 500 x 500 mm to 1000 x 1000 mm. Users can thus introduce flexible production systems with manageable investment and expand them when necessary.

The development of the PHS Allround strictly followed the modular concept. In other words, the customer is able to combine preconfigured modules as needed to meet his requirements: the storage locations can be arranged in a circular pattern at the ends with one or more machines and front access. "Our extremely space-efficient system fits in almost every production hall," stressed Winterstein. He also considers it to be extremely important that flexibility is continued. "We can remove and fit this system without complications. For example, investments can be spread over different expansion stages. Our PHS Allround grows as demand increases." Thus, it is no problem to start with one or two machines and increase this number to five."

For more information contact:

Liebherr Gear Technology, Inc.

1465 Woodland Drive

Saline, MI 48176-1259


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