© Philipp Reinhard

Getting there more smoothly

Scratches, wear, noise — when work­piece carriers collide during assembly processes, both prod­ucts and workers are harmed. So Stein Automa­tion devel­oped a system that moves parts from A to B gently.

Whether it is vacuum cleaners, exte­rior mirrors for cars, or fans that are being assem­bled, work­piece carrier trans­port systems quickly and effi­ciently bring parts in produc­tion envi­ron­ments from one step to the next in the assembly process. Stein Automa­tion, based in the south­west German town of Villingen-Schwen­ningen, produces compo­nents for such systems or supplies fully assem­bled systems with inte­grated logis­tics manage­ment on request. Then customers can begin produc­tion right away, carrying out orders with just a few mouse clicks. The company offers two systems, STEIN 300 for weights up to 25 kilo­grams and STEIN 500 for weights up to 60 kilo­grams.

“Our specialty is Soft­move tech­nology for gentle colli­sions,” says Jürgen Noailles, Managing Director at Stein Automa­tion. With other trans­port systems, work­piece carriers constantly run into stop­pers or other work­piece carriers. Prod­ucts get scratched or, in the worst case, broken. Trans­port system compo­nents wear quickly and annoying noises echo through the manu­fac­turing facility.

Soft­move is quiet, lowers the risk of injury, and saves energy.

Soft­move tech­nology changes that. It moves the work­piece carriers at three speeds. When moving freely, they travel at maximum speed. If they detect conges­tion, they slow down. They switch to creep speed for the last two centime­ters before a stopper or another work­piece carrier, so they always stop before reaching an obstacle. That makes produc­tion quieter, lowers the risk of injury for workers, and saves energy.

Safer trans­port for sensi­tive parts

“Avoiding vibra­tions is impor­tant, espe­cially for sensi­tive or heavy parts,” says Noailles, “for example when liquids have to dry after being applied to elec­tronics, and also for sensi­tive stators or rotors.” ebm-papst was one of the first large customers to use Soft­move; it was using work­piece carrier trans­port systems from Stein Automa­tion as early as 1994.

„“When we visited the produc­tion facil­i­ties in ­Mulfingen many years ago, our contact there told us how impor­tant soft colli­sions were for them,” recalls Noailles. “Back then we still used AC gear motors and wondered whether we could also use motors from ebm-papst for our trans­port systems, to make them even more effi­cient.” So ebm-papst and Stein Automa­tion looked for a motor that is compact and powerful and a consid­er­able improve­ment over Stein’s former EC motor solu­tion.

Soft­move moves work­piece carriers at three speeds: 1 Maximum speed when moving freely. 2 Decel­er­a­tion when conges­tion is detected. 3 Creep speed over the last two centime­ters before the obstacle.


It was also espe­cially impor­tant for Stein Automa­tion that the motor feature flex­ible control and adjusta­bility. Stein found all that in the 63.20 K4 ECI motor with inte­grated control unit and attached worm gear. ECI motors also feature torque control and high over­load capacity. Since the motor regu­lates torque and current, work­pieces of different weights can be trans­ported at constant speed.

Customer-supplier rela­tion­ship becomes a part­ner­ship

Stein Automa­tion uses the motors in both systems, where they are mounted on the sides of the conveyors. The ebm-papst plant in St. Georgen supplies the motor for the work­piece carrier trans­port systems, which the fan and drive specialist then uses in its own produc­tion facil­i­ties. “A plain customer-supplier rela­tion­ship devel­oped into a true part­ner­ship,” says Noailles. “And that helps our customers reduce energy consump­tion by up to 80 percent and get their prod­ucts to their desti­na­tion safely.”

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Additional product information can be found here:

ECI 63.xx K4

Dynamic EC motor with integrated control