Robotic Tube-Bending Cell Ups Production for Wheelbarrow Maker

April 1, 2016

A new custom, robotic tube-bending cell developed by Unison, Asheville, NC, comprises a tube-bundle loader, tube orientation station, intermediate dual-arm loader, bending machine and a five-axis articulated robotic handler. In operation at Walsall Wheelbarrow in Great Britain, the cell boasts a tube bender based on a customized 1.25-in. single-stack all-electric model from Unison’s Breeze range. The machine features a long, narrow neck and a bend head specifically designed to facilitate precision fabrication of the tight wheel-end bend of wheelbarrow frames, without causing the tube to collide with machine architecture during the process.

Once the bundle loader’s hopper has been filled and the operating program has been selected, the production cell operates entirely automatically. The bundle loader feeds tubes individually to the tube-orientation station, which detects the weld seam and rotates the tube to the optimum position for bending. The tube then is transferred to the bending machine by the intermediate loader, and after being bent formed is removed by the robotic handler and placed in a multiple-rack storage scheme, ready for hole punching and powder coating.

Says Jonathan Thacker, Walsall operations director: “We have nearly eliminated hydraulic tube benders from our process, in favor of Unison’s all-electric technology. This has multiple advantages, including better process consistency, higher throughput, much lower energy costs and reduced need for skilled operators.”

In addition to the Breeze machine’s Unibend control software, Unison also has supplied its Opt2Sim tube-bending simulator. This enables Walsall to implement a right-first-time manufacturing strategy, eliminating scrap material and any chance of damaging parts.
Industry-Related Terms: Bending, Model, NC, Scrap
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Unison Ltd.

Technologies: Bending


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