The ProModul concept from Hilma is centred on a core 'R' module, enclosed all-round for safety and equipped with a Fanuc 6-axis robot and two workpiece drawers. ProModul provides a base level of automation for unattended production on CNC lathes, machining centres and other machine tools, such as spark eroders. The system also introduces the possibility of using a double gripper arrangement to progress components from Op 10 to Op 20 without manual intervention. Gripper exchange can be similarly automated to allow families of parts to be produced autonomously.

Where the system differs from others on the market is the availability of additional, dedicated, compact ProModul elements that can be positioned next to each other alongside the robotic handling module for performing operations such as deburring, measuring, engraving and assembly. The higher repeatability that is possible compared with an operator performing these tasks not only automates processes, but tends to raise production quality.

Output can be elevated by combining more and more ProModul cabinets for completing the processes. Components are transferred between stages automatically by a variety of handling methods, according to requirements, and work holding is included as part of each package. The maximum workpiece weight allowable using the standard robot is 6.5 kg, although heavier duty models may be selected.

From the group's Stark division, and on show for the first time in the UK, will be a robot gripper with zero-point clamping for automated pallet exchange on machine tables without their own media supply. The services needed for clamping and releasing the workpiece, whether hydraulic, pneumatic or electrical, are all transferred to the clamping plate via a multiple coupling integrated into the robot's pallet gripper.

First shown at EMO last September, the system is supplied to suit the user's requirements and is designed to provide cost-effective, entry-level access to automated production. Implementation is short owing to the system's standardised coupling and flexible modularity. Process safety is assured by air-blow removal of swarf and automatic checking of correct component seating, clamping and release.

On display for the first time will be Roemheld's pneumatically actuated swing clamps incorporating a mechanical locking action, whereby the full holding force - between 200 and 600 N - is maintained in case of air pressure reduction or loss, ensuring operator safety and avoiding the production of scrap. Operating pressure is between 2 and 6 bar.

The clamp is a pull-type cylinder with a piston that is automatically locked when the workpiece height is within the designated clamping range, after which the air line can be depressurised or uncoupled, for example during pallet change. For unclamping, which is monitored, only the minimum pneumatic pressure is needed.

A feature of the clamps is a pair of flow control valves that can be easily adjusted from above. The valves allow the speed of the swing mechanism to be reduced if the flow rate is too high or when the clamping arms are of larger mass. This functionality also enables the synchronisation or sequencing of several connected clamps. The swing angle is normally 90° clockwise or counter-clockwise, although it can be 60°, 45° or absent (0°). If machining dry or with MQL, the wiper can be protected from the ingress of small particles by an additional wiper ring.

Elsewhere on the stand, two vices designed for work holding on 5-axis machining centres will be exhibited. The compact Hilma MC-P is able to grip on just 3 mm of material, reducing raw material costs.

Offering centring or clamping functionality, the Hilma MC-P is suitable for a range of applications, including securing long components and housings made from cast materials. Mechanical and hydraulic versions are available and jaw widths range from 40 to 125 mm, with maximum clamping forces of 8 to 35 kN.

Another work-holding system appearing for the first time at a MACH show will be the division's three MC-P Z Balance vices, which have a floating clamping point to avoid stressing or deforming the component being secured. After operation of the spindle - clamping range being from 6 to 400 mm according to model - the two slides concentrically approach the workpiece. When the first jaw reaches, just the second jaw advances until they are both in contact with the component. Only then is the desired clamping force applied.

From its position within the MMMA metalworking village in Hall 20 (Stand 631), Roemheld will promote the group's range of products aimed at the press working and moulding industries, including die-clamping systems, handling carts, carrying consoles and roller and ball-bar elements.

New to MACH will be the Industry 4.0 press system, Flexline, for automatically clamping almost any die on the ram of a wide variety of press models. Flexline uses integrated sensors to measure real-time data on holding forces and transmit the information to the machine control. The operator has access to information concerning the actual clamping force on the die and is immediately able to detect overloads, the occurrence of unusual forces during operation, and die wear and breakage.

Roemheld's Rivi division, a manufacturer of magnetic clamping plates for securing dies and moulds, will stress its pedigree as a supplier not only to the plastic injection moulding sector, but to the rubber industry. The customised M-TECS products are able to withstand elevated temperatures up to 240°C encountered in such presses, and can generally be retrofitted within a few hours.

Dies and moulds made from ferromagnetic materials can be clamped and subsequently released over their full surface area, while high plate stiffness resists bending. The systems work without electrical power and require only a short current pulse lasting a few seconds to activate and deactivate the magnets.

Permanent magnets generate a field that penetrates a few millimetres into the tool, holding heavy mould halves weighing several tons in the correct position and bringing them together with absolute parallelism. Even moulds with complex geometries can be clamped without deformation, says the company, while uniform distribution of the clamping force ensures low die wear.