Oversized plastic pipes milled to perfection

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Flexible clamping and machining

The KUKA 120 R2700 extra HA robot from the KUKA KR QUANTEC series for payloads of up to 120 kilograms is designed for high-precision requirements such as milling and laser applications. At the Asset International plant in Newport, it machines the large plastic pipe components with a specially designed high-speed milling spindle. Prior to machining, workers clamp the components to a multi-functional clamping table or a large, self-centering table controlled by the rotational axis. As a result of the barrier-free system, the robot, mounted on the linear unit, can move directly to the plastic pipe to be machined and then flexibly carry out the job on the component as required. “In this way, our employees are relieved of what was until now very strenuous manual work involving high levels of vibration,” says Bennett. Furthermore, the employees no longer have to climb on ladders and platforms in order to perform manual preparatory work such as measurements with compasses, tapes and gauges, cutting with a saber saw or chainsaw and surface finishing with a grinder or electric hand plane. According to Bennett, this plays a significant role in the employees not regarding the robot as a threat to their jobs but rather as a helpful assistant for difficult tasks and a member of the team.

50 percent increase in productivity and more


“The solution has enabled us to significantly increase productivity,” says Bennett happily. “Shorter production times have allowed us to boost capacity by more than 50 percent. At the same time, he emphasizes that there has been a marked improvement in quality and precision.” Asset was able to achieve improvements in quality, in particular thanks to the high level of reproducibility. This optimizes the subsequent production step of welding over the long term. Here, not only the weld times but also the consumption of welding material can be reduced thanks to the consistent preparation of the joining gap and weld seam. In addition, health problems ensuing from manual labor involving heavy vibrations have been eliminated, and safety has been increased. Thanks to its modular design tailored to the customer’s requirements, the system can be adapted to the needs of Asset International at any time. Riexinger is also very pleased with the result. “We are very proud to have designed the first system worldwide that can process such large plastic parts with this precision and speed – all the while increasing occupational safety,” emphasizes Manuel Kratz, head of the project at Riexinger. For this reason, the Bad Liebenzell-based company is sure that robot-based automation in the plastics processing sector will be seeing further growth. “There is a great deal of potential, in particular with regard to Industrie 4.0. What is more, the demand is already coming from our customers,” says Theobald optimistically.