Pipe bending solutions for the age of Industry 4.0

Topic of the month

Schwarze-Robitec GmbH presented its new high performance control system, NxG 2.0, at the Tube 2016 international trade fair. The latest version of this control system allows bending machines to be interlinked within a company and therefore guarantees significantly increased flexibility when producing bent products.

The company also presented a new bending tool which enables standard length piping components to be bent and cut in one single step using an integrated severing device. The result: Cycle times and waste are noticeably reduced.

© Schwarze-Robitec GmbH

The NxG 2.0 control system allows bending machines to be interlinked within a company and therefore guarantees significantly increased flexibility when producing bent products © Schwarze-Robitec GmbH

At the Tube trade fair in April, industry delegates were able to visit the Schwarze-Robitec stand and find out about these intelligent pipe bending solutions. “With the NxG 2.0 CNC control system, we have put together an overall package of software and hardware that will significantly improve the productivity of bent parts production in the future,” reports Bert Zorn, Director of Schwarze-Robitec.

With the aim of making bending technology fit for Industry 4.0, the company has integrated fundamental components into the new control system. Along with a new operating concept, the latest version of the high performance NxG control system not only enables regular statistics about bent parts to be collected and evaluated but also does the same for process data.

Integrated sensors provide information about the degree of wear and tear and allow conclusions to be made, for example, about the maintenance requirements of the machine. The new control interface ensures high process reliability and intuitive usability with its refined software with an icon-based interface.

The second highlight at the trade fair was the new tool solution by Schwarze-Robitec, a severing device integrated into a bending machine. With this intelligent chopping tool, users can significantly reduce production time by combining the bending and cutting stages of the process. It also reduces material waste by up to 90 per cent – a drastic cost saving, especially for high-value materials and particularly short, bent piping components.

© Schwarze-Robitec GmbH

With the severing device integrated into the bending machine, users can significantly reduce production time by combining the bending and cutting stages of the process © Schwarze-Robitec GmbH

Bending machine for Industry 4.0

Increasingly demanding processes and the persistent trend in on-demand production are shaping modern day pipe bending production – complex component geometry, new materials and the call for lower unit costs with batch sizes changing fast at the same time; all of these set the tone for today’s industry. Production planners have to adapt to this situation and ultimately this puts greater demands on machine operators.

They have to implement changes reliably. Schwarze-Robitec is reacting to these developments with a new operating concept and the integration of new functions in the CNC-controlled bending systems. As a further development to the high performance NxG control system for bending machines presented last year, Schwarze-Robitec is now presenting the next generation, NxG 2.0.

By simplifying it, concentrating on the fundamental basics of the operating concept and new opportunities for interlinking bending machines, the level of flexibility has been greatly increased for the manufacturing of bent products.

In order to make bending technology fit for Industry 4.0, fundamental components have been integrated into the NxG 2.0 control system. This not only enables regular statistics about bent parts to be collected and evaluated but also does the same for process data.

Integrated sensors provide information about the degree of wear and tear or lubrication consumption, for example, and allow conclusions to be made about the expected bending results, the condition of the bending tools or the maintenance requirements of the machine. This process data from the bending machine is saved onto the company’s network or on the Cloud.

Collected at a central location, this data can be requested and evaluated at any time under the strictest data protection conditions. Statistics can be viewed in real time. The status of the machine and the level of tool wear and tear are permanently visible. All this helps to maintain production capacity and increase flexibility by keeping the machine’s data transparent.

© Schwarze-Robitec GmbH

The NxG 2.0 control system not only enables regular statistics about bent parts to be collected and evaluated but also does the same for process data © Schwarze-Robitec GmbH

Intuitive machine operation

In the course of the development, the control system interface has also been optimised further. The refined software with an icon-based interface ensures high process reliability and intuitive usability. The guiding principle of “simplification” characterises it down to the smallest detail: All operational procedures are displayed in structured groups with the help of icons.

In this way, the user can find clear, stylised icons for various categories such as dimension parameters, transport, tool clamping or sliding rails. “This makes it easier to set the bending programme or enter tool information. In addition, the validity of all input data is checked thoroughly to avoid conflicting data being entered,” Bert Zorn explains, Director of Schwarze-Robitec.

© Schwarze-Robitec GmbH

The refined software with icon interface ensures high process reliability and intuitive usability. © Schwarze-Robitec GmbH

The NxG 2.0 CNC control system also includes an upgraded user management system that allows different user levels to be allocated to employees in the company: From operating pipe bending production to complex procedures such as production planning, bending devices and product optimisation or integration into the company’s infrastructure.

“We have put together an overall package of software and hardware that will significantly improve the productivity of bent parts production in the future,” Zorn summarises. “It is a crucial step towards flexible and stable processes.” The NxG 2.0 control system will be delivered to its first customers from mid-2016.

Editing: Frank Lindner

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