KRACHT GmbH is a medium-sized, family-owned company that is active worldwide and employs around 400 people. Its core competencies lie in the development, manufacture and sale of high-quality technologies in the fields of pumps, fluid measurement, valves, hydraulic drives and customised system solutions. “In order to meet the high quality requirements and specific wishes of our customers and to continue to grow, we have partially automated our machinery. The Elevate from Cellro provides us with the additional options we were looking for,” says Head of CNC Turning / Machining Centres Jürgen Kaun.
Broad and deep product range
KRACHT GmbH has a broad and deep product portfolio and offers special solutions in addition to standard products – from design, development and construction to sales. Jürgen Kaun: “Our products have a high quality standard. They are installed, for example, in engines, wind turbines, ship engines, dosing and mixing machines, such as polyurethane foam machines and test benches. Our range is further complemented by valves and hydraulic components that are used in mobile as well as stationary equipment. These are all applications where our products are exposed to high loads. A high degree of wear resistance and operational reliability are enormously important here. In order to be able to manufacture such high-quality products and create room for product optimisation and product innovation, intelligent automation is essential.”
A well thought-out management decision
The main reason why KRACHT GmbH started automating its production was managing partner Heiko Zahn’s assessment that the previous production was too cumbersome and labour-intensive. “We worked a lot with CNC machines that had to be repeatedly clamped, adjusted, loaded and unloaded independently of each other. That involved a lot of manual labour. On the initiative of our managing director, we started to automate the whole thing. We presented our wishes and ideas to Mazak. They then contacted suppliers, including Cellro and AMF clamping systems. Together, working in partnership, we developed a system that processes workpieces fully automatically,” says Jürgen Kaun.”
Elevate has brought about great changes
Ingo Bresk is jointly responsible for the CNC machines at KRACHT GmbH. He explains how Cellro’s Elevate has fundamentally changed, accelerated and improved the production process. “We start a new production series, determine which recipe we need for it and load the Elevate with the raw parts accordingly. If necessary, an AMF fixture has to be replaced. This saves a lot of time, especially with the complex products we make.
Then, when everything is ready, we start production. When the robot picks up the blank, the measuring system of the gripper first checks whether the correct blank is inserted. Then the robot holds the blank in a measuring station and measures the other side in a chamber that can vary in depth. This ensures that the correct blank is inserted into the AMF clamping system. This is particularly important as the Elevate is equipped with product inlays into which any type of casting can be inserted. This makes the Elevate particularly user-friendly for the operator and intuitive to use.
This is also due to the fact that the AMF clamping system is equipped with a double insertion control. An OP20 is also required for 20 % of the parts. This second fixture consists of four M12 threaded holes. To avoid using the expensive Variaxis for this, a VCP400 was added to the cell. When the first product is machined, the robot places the part in the SPC tray (inspection drawer). It is at the user’s discretion whether to wait for the inspection or to continue production immediately. Even with other periodic measurements that can be set on the Human-Machine Interface (HMI) / operator interface, this decision is up to the user.”
Plenty of storage capacity
KRACHT GmbH is also very enthusiastic about other aspects of the Elevate from Cellro. Ingo Bresk: “We decided to set up the Elevate with a capacity for 144 parts, so that we can also run the system automatically at weekends. This is something that was not possible in the past. The advantage is that the Elevate, and therefore the workpiece storage, does not take up much floor space. It builds up vertically and not towards the back. The fact that the production is unmanned is of course a big advantage for our company. In the past, we had to produce the parts by hand on two different machines. Today we only have to fill the Elevate.”
Changeover to 24/7 production
Jürgen Kaun and Ingo Bresk look back on the introduction of automation in their company with satisfaction. The two CNC production specialists are particularly enthusiastic about the user-friendliness. “Programming the software is clear and simple. We can use it to schedule our production 24/7, so the system also runs at night. And as long as we don’t have to change a fixture, we can produce a variety of products on those fixtures. Different designs, even for the same blank, are no problem. We can create different product series. When one series is finished, the next one is started automatically. This gives us a high degree of flexibility.”
Cellro thinks in solutions
Both CNC specialists are enthusiastic about the collaboration with Cellro and are very satisfied with the result, which was achieved through intelligent automation: “We were involved in this example with a total of four parties at our site. The cooperation between all of them was excellent. When there were requests for changes, whether from Mazak or from KRACHT, they immediately checked whether what we wanted was feasible. If it was, the changes were made immediately. To be honest, we didn’t think it was possible for raw castings to be machined and clamped automatically. But Cellro managed to convince us with facts and with the performance of the Elevate. For us, this has created the basis to continue working with Cellro on the automation of our production.”