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Weishaupt, headquartered in the Upper Swabian town of Schwendi, is a leading provider of burners, heat pumps, heating and condensing-boiler systems, energy recovery solutions, and facility automation. Since mid-2016 Weishaupt’s new burner casing production facility has operated using an automation solution provided by Liebherr-Verzahntechnik GmbH.
All burners are manufactured at the company’s main plant in Schwendi. This state-of-the-art production facility is a showpiece in terms of safety, precision, and cleanliness. Its design also allows operators to work efficiently during assembly of large and medium-sized burners, which are almost always custom-made. These include gas, oil and dual-fuel burners, rated up to 32 megawatts, as used in industrial processes, for example, drying plants in the vehicle manufacturing.
As part of an improvement strategy Weishaupt is reimagining its flexible manufacturing process for cubic machining. This involves the important process of machining burners and casing components. The first stage of improvements included the procurement of two new machining centres featuring a Liebherr-Verzahntechnik PHS 3500 (Pallet Handling System) integrating the manufacturing processes. This new flexible manufacturing system has been producing workpieces since spring 2016.
This new solution enables Weishaupt to significantly increase its flexibility. The PHS 3500 and 1500 have the ability to hold 450 different components on 90 different fixtures and directly feed the Heckert machining centres. Currently the largest machine fixture and workpiece measures 2.3x2.0x1.4 metres and can weigh as much as three tonnes. This with the ability to machine smaller workpieces enables the plant to work at capacity.
Varying workpiece size and weight required adjustments to the design of the set-up stations. Ergonomics and workplace safety played a key role when the system was being engineered. The set-up stations were designed in such a way as to allow automatic height adjustment to an ergonomic level. Set-up station fixtures can also be rotated to various positions increasing part loading flexibility. Safety for operators working at the set-up stations is guaranteed by ground scanners allowing unimpeded access for workpiece changeover.
Special adjustments had to be made to meet Weishaupt’s high standard of cleanliness and sustainability. Excess cutting fluid from parts is collected in stainless steel troughs, processed and reintroduced to the machining process.
Weishaupt also attached particular importance to excellent service when it made its decision to go with the PHS. Liebherr-Verzahntechnik GmbH guarantees prompt and dependable service. Fast service provision times are a basic requirement. After all there is no alternative to this production line – any downtime would have serious consequences. Furthermore the plant required a wide range of detailed technical solutions, which also had to be design-engineered. In this case Liebherr was able to score point by proposing feasible solutions. Many years of experience working on similar projects was also of major help in this case.
Weishaupt was invited to visit Liebherr’s PHS system in Kempten as well as similar installations at client’s sites. This helped their employees familiarise themselves with the technology and gain an understanding on how it’s slotted in continuous operations.
Liebherr integrated a Soflex-designed production cell controller to coordinate resource management and job sequencing. In addition to its standard tasks, a production cell controller also manages production and ergonomic parameters. Thus, for example, it communicates the optimum clamping tension to every component as well as the working height of the set-up station.
By investing in new production solutions, Weishaupt has adopted a system exactly tailored to its own needs, setting its future course. Liebherr-Verzahntechnik GmbH’s automation solution has helped to secure the long-term future of production at Weishaupt.