When I think about automating part loading, I first think about the clamping points and surfaces of the part and the clamping device. Are they straight, flat, round? Will the part self-center when clamped? Does the part have small shoulders or stepped surfaces that need careful alignment when orienting the part in the clamping device? In short, if an operator isn’t present to “make sure” the part is properly seated, is the part suitable for automatic loading?
If the answer is an obvious, yes, carry on! If there are issues, justification to implement auto-loading may depend on high volume. But if auto-loading analysis yields only some doubt, a simple insurance policy against the occasional improperly loaded part may be the Tandem KSP plus clamping block from SCHUNK. This workholding fixture measures clamping force along the entire length of the jaw stroke, both for ID or OD clamping. By using inductive proximity switches integrated to the CNC control, incorrect clamping pressure can be set to signal machine stop.
The clamping system is sealed and compact, taking up about the same space as a typical vise. In addition to pressure monitoring clamping forces up to 55kN, jaw repeatability is maintained at 0.01mm. These combined features provide the necessary conditions for auto loading parts requiring high metal removal and tight tolerances. The system is designed to accept top jaws using tongue and groove or fine serrations. An optional quick-change jaw system is also available. The system is also designed for high repeatability for re-mounting the clamping block when re-running the job or setting up for other jobs later.
When I think about part loading now, I think about a system that will back me up whether I’m loading parts manually or automatically. Watch a video featuring various applications of the Tandem force block in action.