KR 210 R3100 F cleans casting molds in the BMW Foundry in Landshut

KR 210 R3100 F cleans permanent casting molds at BMW

KUKA robots handle dry ice blasting for eight different types of tools.

Around 1,500 employees of the BMW Group in Landshut manufacture five million cast components of aluminum and magnesium per year with a total weight of around 69,000 tonnes. The scope of production includes engine components such as cylinder heads or crankcases as well as parts for the body structure and chassis. In cooperation with Augsburg-based MRK-Systeme GmbH, an innovative solution has been developed for robot-based dry ice blasting for eight different types of tools. Founded in 2004, MRK-Systeme GmbH and its fourteen employees develop and implement function packages for human-robot collaboration. The system solutions are used mainly by automobile manufacturers and their suppliers but also by all other branches of industry.

Handling of dry ice places great strain on the worker

Dry ice is used to clean permanent molds in the foundry. The advantage of this non-abrasive and non-corrosive cleaning procedure is that it neither damages the material to be cleaned nor does it leave behind dry ice residue. With dry ice (solid CO2), the most complex geometries, as are often found on permanent molds, can be cleaned without damaging or dismantling equipment. At BMW in Landshut, this was previously done manually, placing a great strain on the worker.

Robotic assistence improves work place ergonomics 

The worker first selects the “SmartICE” software on the KUKA smartPad teach pendant and from there uses the graphics to select the type of permanent mold as well as the relevant areas on the casting mold. The worker then manually guides the robot intuitively through these areas. With the aid of the force/torque sensor, the robot can be easily moved without process forces. This offers primarilyergonomic advantages when compared to the manual procedure. In addition, peripheral signals (e.g. to the actuators or from/to the dry ice aggregate through the Aero interface) can be easily saved in the program by the operator via touch operation. The worker then gets the robot to automatically execute the taught 3D path and clean the permanent mold with the dry ice. Following the ice blasting procedure, which lasts approximately 30 minutes, the permanent mold is reintroduced into the casting production process and a new casting mold is brought into the station to be cleaned.

Intuitive and interactive hand steering without the need for expert knowledge

A KR 210 R3100 F ultra KUKA robot is used in the innovative cell. This robot, specially developed for use in foundry environments, is equipped with special protective packages to effortlessly withstand heat, dirt, humidity, sand and cleaning agents. This makes it the ideal alternative, particularly for tough tasks that are arduous for human workers.

Thanks to safety interface X67, KUKA SafeOperation software and the RSI (RobotSensorInterface), safety during direct contact with the human worker is ensured.

Thanks to safety packages, the highest safety is guaranteed
With the functional package SafeGuiding from MRK, the KR 210 can be guided directly by hand.
These KUKA options form the basis for MRK’s SafeGuiding function package, which enables safe, intuitive and interactive manual guiding or programming of the KR 210. Intuitive robot operation, targeted program selection as well as automatic memory management are also ensured with further help from a customized user interface – which is installed as plug-in software on the KUKA controller. Without expert technical knowledge of the automation components, the operator can work productively and program the free-form surfaces of the permanent mold to be cleaned. 

Reduction of casting interruptions by 120 minutes

Through the use of the robot-based system, the interruption in the casting process has been shortened from 180 minutes to 30 minutes – thus guaranteeing significantly higher output. The robot also enables repeatably accurate preparation of the tool and reduces the strain on the worker. Furthermore, the new solution decreases the impurities to be found in the casting area.

The highprecision cleaning enhances the quality of the process. Last, but not least, the procedure must also be considered in the sense of “today for tomorrow”: since employees are getting older, BMW is already thinking about the future today by choosing robot-based solutions.

KR 210 3100 F reduces casting interruptions from 180 to 30 minutes
The KUKA KR QUANTEC is specifically tailored towards use in foundry environments

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