By optimising these processes, the RUD Tool Separator can pay for itself in less than a year. The system is said to be the ideal companion to the Tool Mover Pro, RUD's tool-handling machine.

“The Tool Separator is a real milestone in the history of safe and efficient tool handling,” states Anne Kühling, product manager in RUD Ketten Rieger & Dietz GmbH u. Co. KG's Conveyor & Drive division. “The initiative for our latest development came directly from the market. No wonder: companies often have to separate massively heavy tools by hand, using cranes, sledgehammers and tyre irons. Depending on the tool, this can take between 30 minutes and three hours, and take up the time of up to three members of staff. Other machines, such as injection moulding machines or die-spotting machines, might also be put to use to separate the tool. This is very inefficient and has a direct impact on operating costs. A solution to this problem had to be found urgently,” she adds.

Instead of taking three hours and involving three members of staff, the Tool Separator needs a maximum of five minutes and one person to complete the entire process. RUD's Tool Separator operates with an opening and closing force of 50 kN. A PLC system ensures effective operation. Carefully controlled force and speed ensure tool halves can be opened gently and closed accurately: operators can set the degree of force from a theoretical 0 to 55 kN and set speeds from 0 to 2,000 mm per minute.

Using the Tool Separator not only protects expensive tools, but also safeguards the joints and vertebrae of its operators. At only 380 mm high, the contact surface ensures work can be performed safely and ergonomically. And yet another benefit is that after opening, the operator can work directly on both halves of the tool, to perform minor repairs or maintenance tasks, while it is held securely in the Tool Separator. This reduces the downtime required for maintenance. Safety is guaranteed at all times. It is simply not possible to operate the Tool Separator, either by pressing buttons on the machine itself or by remote control, if anyone is standing between the two halves of the tool.

The Tool Separator is driven electrically by RUD's innovative TECDOS Pi-Gamma 2-in-1 chain drive system, which was specially developed for horizontal and vertical applications. This system is based on a high performance round steel chain, also developed by RUD. The drive system is especially robust, low-maintenance and with a long service life.

“The Tool Separator's electrical drive is its distinctive feature, because it operates entirely without hydraulics. A hydraulic drive not only needs more maintenance, but also takes up more space because of the additional hydraulic unit. In contrast, the Tool Separator is a compact all-in-one system", explains Walter Lais, designer at RUD Ketten Rieger & Dietz GmbH u. Co. KG. “Its compact construction means we've been able to bring its contact surface down to 380 mm, which is very low. That makes it an excellent, ergonomic working height for operators.”

The prototype unit is sized for tools weighing up to 10 tonnes, but can also handle lighter or heavier tools with ease. The Tool Separator has a 1,300 by 1,300 mm clamping plate and a sliding and contact surface at a height of 380 mm. “Theoretically, anything is possible here: we can adjust the machine to handle lighter or heavier tools, greater or lesser forces and smaller or greater distances between the clamping plates. We can also modify the plates themselves, depending on what is required", states Lais. The Tool Separator can also be moved by crane, so it can be used just where it's needed.

To ensure the greatest possible safety in the workplace, optional add-on parts, such as a guard bracket, can be installed to complement the automatic stop function that triggers as soon as anyone is detected on the Tool Separator. A light curtain or protective fence can also be supplied to optimise safety in the working environment. Thanks to its radio-controlled operator devices, the Tool Separator can also be operated safely and conveniently outside the danger zone.