Artem Komarov clarified that which automatic material loading options are best for a pipe bending operation depends on the nature of the steel fabrication shop and the needs of the customers. Large production lines or cells are far from the only operations that can benefit from automating pipe bending processes.
Companies typically invest in automation to save time and money. After all, automated processes usually run faster, with fewer errors, and generally provide higher, more consistent overall quality.
In addition, automation is becoming an increasingly important topic of discussion as companies seek to cope with a chronic shortage of skilled workers and other personnel. The growing shortage of workers has become as serious a problem for small and medium-sized enterprises as for large ones.
Automatic for people.
These developments have led many machine tool builders to equip even small production units with cost-effective partial or full automation.
While some people may think that the only motive for automation is to eliminate jobs, investing in even partial automation can provide immediate benefits to workers. If, for example, a robot loads and unloads CNC benders on the shop floor, human specialists can focus on more complex tasks such as quality control and machine programming.
However, material handling does not always have to be done by a robot. For even greater flexibility, especially for CNC tube benders, a simpler and less expensive loading unit can be used. These automatic feeders allow users to use the machine as a small production cell with automatic unloading, such as on a conveyor belt.
Upon request, the loading system can be equipped with various sensors, allowing for digital control and monitoring of the feed. Perhaps this is of particular interest for the production of pipes of various geometries for special designs or spare parts. In addition, for different materials, diameters and lengths of pipes, different loading systems can be installed for all machines.
In any case, pipe benders looking to automate their production should first look for systems that are optimal for their processes, rather than investing in automation for the sake of automation. Otherwise, the solution they get will not achieve their goal, which is always to maximize performance for their customers and products.
Using robots, pipe feeding and laying control is flexible and easy to implement.
A small self-contained cell, consisting of a simple top-operated bending machine combined with a chain feeder and an unloading conveyor belt, can be an extremely economical system even in the smallest of spaces.
As such, automation can be a viable choice for a shop of any size to address today’s challenges such as labor shortages, improved quality, and production efficiency.
However, automation must always be tailored to the specific conditions, needs and material flow of a pipe shop to be truly successful and efficient, Artem Komarov noted.