Smart Machines & Factories
Improving machine tool efficiency
Published:  29 September, 2021
Schaeffler technology improves machine tool efficiency and precision

Global automotive and industrial supplier Schaeffler will be showcasing its latest innovations for the machine tool manufacturing industry at EMO 2021, in Milan frm 4 to 9 October.

There is a lot happening in the industry, as Marcus Eisenhuth, head of industrial, Europe, explains. “There are currently two key trends affecting users and manufacturers of machine tools and metal machining centers: the growing use of ancillary automation to enhance machine tool efficiency, and the increasing integration of multiple production processes within machine tools themselves. Schaeffler is constantly developing and refining its portfolio of products and services for machine tools.”

Growth of automation for machine tools

Automation can help to dramatically reduce the time taken for machine setup and auxiliary processes. Examples of this include the trend towards larger machine tools and the use of handling systems to link multiple independent machines. Manufacturers are also increasingly using articulated-arm robots, which can be mounted on linear axes to perform tasks such as loading and unloading magazines and machine tools. “This market is growing steadily and driving increasing demand for rolling bearings, linear guideways and integrated systems and services. Schaeffler has state-of-the-art products to meet this demand,” said Ralf Moseberg, head of Industrial Automation at Schaeffler.

Combination turning and milling machines are another steady growth area. For the rotary tables used in these highly dynamic machining centers, Schaeffler offers one of the best-performing ranges of bearings available, including variants with integrated angle measuring systems and direct drives. Schaeffler rotary table bearings differ from competitor brands in several respects, most notably have a much higher tilting rigidity (up to 30 percent) and very low friction values. For machine manufacturers, this increases rotary table rigidity and speed and reduces thermal influences. End users of these machines benefit from enhanced machining performance, faster cycle times, and improved accuracy and surface finishes.

Growing use of multi-function machine tools

Machine tools that comprise multiple functions or machining technologies are a highly attractive proposition from a TCO standpoint, but they present greater challenges in terms of the rolling bearings needed for spindles, feed drives and linear axes. “They require rolling bearings that are resistant to contamination by hard particles and have reliable, low-friction sealing systems that can be adapted for the various machining processes involved,” said Moseberg. “At EMO 2021, Schaeffler will be presenting its latest products that incorporate our RUE-F next-generation linear recirculating roller bearing and guideway assemblies.”

The RUE-F assemblies have been engineered to use significantly less lubricant, which lowers their operating costs as well as protecting the environment. This in turn reduces the costs associated with lubricant contamination, particularly in machines that use cooling lubricants. In addition, the improved kinematics of the return geometry in these assemblies enables the machine tool to produce much better surface finishes.

Digitalisation for machine monitoring and increased uptime

Schaeffler offers a range of products that are significantly less complex and less expensive than conventional machine tool monitoring. Schaeffler SpindleSense, for example, is a system that measures main spindle displacement, allowing main spindles to be operated safely at maximum load. Schaeffler DuraSense, a monitoring solution for feed axes, ensures precise lubrication according to actual requirements and enables analysis of machine states, thereby preventing unscheduled downtime and increasing plant availability.

Users can retrofit their existing machinery with DuraSense functionality simply by installing DuraSense sensors on the carriage in the monorail guidance system. This is an ideal low-cost way to digitalise existing machinery, in turn benefiting from increased uptime and productivity.

Schaeffler also offers an extensive portfolio of condition monitoring and relubrication systems that provide operators of machines and entire manufacturing facilities with a reliable and cost-effective means of monitoring and automatically relubricating standard machines and drives as well as machine tools. Schaeffler itself uses these approaches in its own manufacturing processes, for example to monitor high-load grinding spindles in grinding machines.

You can visit Schaeffler at EMO MILANO 2021 in Hall 3, Stand E47.