To implement mass production of a world-first roof tiling solution, Tectra Automation, subcontracted by automation solutions provider Yaskawa, engineered a unique automated production system using Bosch Rexroth aluminium extruder profiles, among other componentry, and Yaskawa robots. The system will facilitate the transfer and pressing of 200° C molten mineral polymer blend sheets, their cutting, packaging and palletising. Tectra Automation’s scope of work included all processes from when product exits the double-story extruder through to the palletised product.
To address the issue of handling molten material at high temperatures, Tectra Automation designed and built a pliable lifting system incorporating a soft needle piercing system. Custom-made needle grippers, each containing 1 138 needles, pierce the hot pliable plastic sheets and, using Yaskawa robots, raise the sheets and transfer them to the press. At this point, the needles are retracted and pressing and product formation begins.
“Our working relationship with Yaskawa South Africa has proved that our two companies complement one another,” explains Nico Davies, Mechatronics Engineer, Tectra Automation. “Our dual experience and long-standing relationship is what secured us this project, which also would not have been possible without the specialised robotics supplied by Yaskawa.”
Early stage project commissioning commenced during July 2020, with the order having been received only in January. “The advent of lockdown under the COVID-19 state of disaster did not impact project process in any way,” says Nico Davies, Mechatronics Engineer, Tectra Automation. “The team worked remotely with no difference in output, keeping to all project timelines. We are in the process of procuring the required parts and all equipment will be onsite by year-end. Full commissioning completion is expected at the end of April 2021.”
Davies explains that the inherent flexibility in Bosch Rexroth products, especially its extruder aluminium profiles, allows for a degree of adaptability in the production process. “It allows us the leeway to make specific changes to the system as and when required,” he explains. “This is extremely beneficial when the customer needs the system to be adapted to accommodate new processes, or even changes to the production process itself.”
Automation offers several advantages, among them 100% repeatability and the ability to run 24/7, improving both production quality and speed. “We work closely with our suppliers to provide a customised, flexible solution that meets clients’ specific requirements,” Davies points out. “Working with Bosch Rexroth and Yaskawa, Tectra Automation is providing an individualised solution that is tailor-made to overcome the customer’s unique application requirements.”