Kuunders' welding application for Vlemmix trailers
By far Kuunders' most beautiful project to date: A carousel holding two welding robots that automatically weld profiles together and save numerous man-hours.
Noord-Brabant is – besides Noord- and Zuid-Holland - the largest economy in the Netherlands. Traditionally, agriculture is mainly what it’s all about. But knowledge work and manufacturing industry are becoming increasingly important. An example of both is Kuunders Technoworks. This innovative company provides a solution for every technical problem. An example? The company Vlemmix, manufacturer of trailers.
Vlemmix Aanhangwagens in Asten
Willem Kuunders welcomes us at the main entrance of his client Vlemmix Aanhangwagens in Asten. Rick and Bas Vlemmix, sons of the founder of the company that 'emanated from a pig farm' in 2006, give us a hearty welcome too. The factory hall we're in, is impressive. Rick: "When our dad needed a trailer and bought one, he was certain that he could manufacture one smarter, and especially cheaper, by himself. Now our company employs 15 people and constructs undercarriages on wheels for tiny houses, machines and boats. The company is growing fast and we export our trailers to countries in Europe and even to New Zealand and Australia."
How did this growth come about? Automation plays a crucial role, in addition to the daring spirit of enterprise, and – according to the Vlemmix brothers – the strong work ethic of the youngsters in the neighbourhood. And as to automation Kuunders Technoworks from Bakel is strongly involved.
Kuunders Technoworks’ whizzkids
Willem Kuunders takes us round the Vlemmix factory hall and shows us the fully automatic, probably 'fastest welding street in the Netherlands'. "It is," he says, "by far my most beautiful project to date": A carousel holding two welding robots that automatically weld profiles together and save numerous man-hours.
Kuunders Technoworks is seated in Bakel and employs seven engineers and four workshop technicians who are extremely competent and pure whizzkids, according to Willem. Willem Kuunders, farmer's son, started as a self-employed man at an early age. He turned out to be very proficient on the laptop in making drawings of machines. That's how he rolled into the world of logistics and the manufacturing industry and made hydraulic pressing machines, plate drying tunnels and hose cutting machines. Willem: "We create what the customer needs, and often even better and more sophisticated than he envisioned...".
We make what customers need
Willem: "... and often even better and more sophisticated than he envisioned...".
Carousel and welding robots
The Vlemmix order put his people’s creativity to the test. Vlemmix wanted to automate the labour-intensive manual welding of the chassis’ steel parts. Kuunders devised a construction in the form of a carousel with welding robots, a uniform mould and a feeding and unloading station. The engineers went to work and 'came up with as many as 20 possible concepts, some containing tooth hedges or chains for the driving force'. In the end, the squirrel-cage motors of SEW-EURODRIVE were selected to take care of the welding track’s movements.
Description of the final result
At the feeding station, the mould is provided with the steel construction parts that are secured firmly by means of clamps. Special attention was paid to the mould’s accessibility. It is designed in such a way that the profiles fit in tightly. Moreover, the mould is multifunctional: Only minor adjustments are required to make all trailer variants. Consequently the adjustment time is marginal, meaning minimal waste of time and increased productivity. And last but not least, all handling is carried out ergonomically justified.
Next the mould is led into the carousel (14 m long and 2.5 m wide) using roller tracks – driven by frequency-controlled SEW motors.
Here the welding is done by two welding robots (manufactured by Valk Welding) on either side of the track. They overlap in terms of scope, but don't get in each other's way. The carousel can take eight positions between +90 and -270 degrees, allowing to reach every desired angle. After all parts have been welded, the mould is routed out of the carousel via the unloading roller tracks. At this stage the mechanics have time to finalize the assembly, secure the chassis and make way for the next trailer.
Quote from Willem Kuunders, owner of Kuunders Technoworks
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Collaboration between Kuunders and SEW-EURODRIVE
Kuunders and SEW-EURODRIVE worked closely together for the calculations and selection of the drive technology. In designing the carousel, Kuunders was eager to get the combined mass (empty weight of the carousel 4,000 kg and mould including product 3,000 kg) close to the center of the carousel. Using SEW's Workbench calculation program, the various mass inertias were processed and a correct selection of the drive (an SEW helical-bevel geared motor, type KA67/T DRN112M4) was made. The result is a low mass inertia ratio between the drive and the load/carousel, which makes it nicely balanced and able to position accurately (< 5 mm). The new integrated encoder of the EI8 series with 1024 pulses is used for positioning.
Vlemmix is very satisfied with the end result. After some small adjustments in the control’s programming, the welding carousel runs flawlessly. The brothers are proud to announce that, as a Dutch company, they can now compete well with foreign countries in terms of price and quality. The future of the company looks bright.
Kuunders is already working on the next projects, in which AGVs (automated guided vehicles) will play a big role. He thinks of 'towers' in which goods and materials are stacked via an elevator movement. This will help saving floor space considerably, using the AGVs for loading and unloading. This should lead to the complete automation of internal logistics processes. For more information we refer to: https://www.kumatech.nl/