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A new automation solution at the GrindingHub
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A new automation solution at the GrindingHub

May 15, 2024 6:26 pm

UNITED GRINDING Group introduced a mobile transport robot called “Automated Tool Production” for autonomous tool loading and unloading. WALTER introduced laser technology and showcased 12 machines in grinding, eroding, lasering, measuring, and additive manufacturing.

On the opening day of the trade fair, a large crowd gathered at the UNITED GRINDING Group’s pavilion to see the WALTER innovation unveiled. At 10 a.m., the covers were removed, revealing a mobile transport robot that moved autonomously between the HELITRONIC VISION 400 L high-end tool grinding machine and the fully automated HELICHECK PLUS measuring machine. This novel automation technology, known as “Automated Tool Production” (ATP), allows for the autonomous loading and unloading of cylindrical precision tools. The system includes at least one robot cell that can be accessed from the front, as well as a mobile transport robot that carries workpiece pallets and individual components between storage and processing stations. The new method may be readily adapted onto existing systems, not only for WALTER equipment, but also machines from third-party suppliers.

WALTER surprises with another innovation and opens a new chapter in the history of tool machining by introducing laser technology based on the new VISION LASER machine. The main application area for the new machine is machining cutting tools with inserts. Using an innovative, highly reliable, and industry-proven laser system paired with encapsulated optical modules enables very high machine availability in everyday operation.

BLOHM and STUDER showcased their latest technologies on 12 machines in grinding, eroding, lasering, measuring, and additive manufacturing. BLOHM introduced the PLANOMAT XT tool changer for surface and profile grinding, a cost-efficient solution for automatic wheel changes. STUDER introduced its insertLoad automation system, combining standardization and flexibility for automatic loading and unloading of cylindrical grinding machines. IRPD presented the IMPACT 4530, the first Swiss-made industrial additive machine tool, renowned for high repetition accuracy and user-friendliness for metal part manufacturing. The machine sets new standards in accuracy, quality, and scalability in its market segment.

The trade show appearance was held under the theme “Stay Connected” and trade visitors were also able to find out about numerous connectivity solutions. These included various digital customer care solutions, the digital assistance systems from UNITED GRINDING Digital Solutions™, and the universal manufacturer-independent umati data interface, which can be used to connect the Group’s machines, and third-party machines with their production environment.

Four people were not only delighted with the innovative technologies on display at the Group’s booth but also with a PlayStation PS5, which they won by playing on a C.O.R.E. panel. Congratulations!

The Group also held a press conference at GrindingHub, at which Stephan Nell, CEO of the UNITED GRINDING Group, provided insights into the state of business. Nell stated, “The past year was one of the three best in the history of our Group,” surprising the audience, consisting of invited representatives of the international trade press. Despite the challenging economic and geopolitical climate, the Group not only maintained its market-leading position in 2023 but also expanded it. However, the outlook for 2024 is less rosy for the industry: “Like the entire machine tool industry, we also have to expect a decline in sales in the current year,” explains Nell. However, forecasts are difficult due to the unpredictability of global events. “We have little or no influence on the external factors that are currently shaping the market. Different dynamics within the regions and industries are making forecasting even more difficult. Overall, we are hoping for an increase in incoming orders towards the end of the year,” concludes Nell, giving a cautiously optimistic outlook for the future.

Stephan Nell also mentioned, based on an external market analysis, a regional shift in the market volumes in machine tools.  From a global perspective, a decline can be observed in China, while the proportionate volume in North America is growing. In Asia, excluding China and Europe, the relative market volume is currently changing only slightly. Within Europe, on the other hand, there is a clear shift from the DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) region to Eastern Europe. Central Europe is only losing a little in terms of relative market volume. “As a Group, we are also very aware of these shifts in volume and demand,” said Nell. “In addition to our traditional home markets of Europe, particularly the DACH region, North America, and China, we are therefore intensifying our activities in South East Asia and have established a group branch office in Singapore. Eastern Europe has also moved into our strategic focus. We already intensified our sales activities there some time ago,” Nell continues, concluding his remarks with the words: ”We will gradually expand the regional diversity of our Group, which has always been one of our great strengths, to remain close to our customers in the future and maintain the Group’s stable base. Based on how we are underway, I am optimistic about the future.” Only a strong Group can fulfill its paramount goal: To make its customers even more successful.

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