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.
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.”