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Machine retrofit: revitalizing treatment from the press specialists

Old machines have been reconditioned at KUKA Industries in Obernburg for over 40 years. From trimming and spotting presses to robots – here, they all get a second lease on life. This was also the case for the SEP 16-100 fast trimming press from REIS which has been in service for a German automotive supplier for 16 years.

Instead of replacing it with a new press, the customer opted for a general overhaul at KUKA’s factory in order to adapt the machine to the latest production and safety requirements and thus optimally prepare it for many further successful years of use by its owner. 

The initial situation: An outdated, worn-out trim press

By the time it comes to a general overhaul at the KUKA Industries factory in Obernburg, machines have already completed thousands of hours of operation – and it shows. Leaks, mechanical damage, worn cylinders and seals, excessive play or rust are the most common signs of wear. But none of that is a problem for the KUKA experts: “There isn’t anything that we cannot fix here,” says Eberhard Amrhein, Head of Customer Service for the EMEA region at KUKA Industries. “In the past 35 years, we’ve received machinery in all kinds of states – and so far we’ve been able to return each machine in top form and according to the owner’s requirements.” 
The outmoded Reis trimming press is due for refurbishment to meet state-of-the-art standards.
One of these machines was the Reis fast trimming press from a German automotive supplier. The type SEP 16-100 trimming press with a pressing force of 100 tonnes was acquired by the company in the late 1990s to manufacture die-cast parts for the automotive industry. After 16 years of three-shift operation, it was still in continuous use; however, it was getting up there in years. The controller no longer met state-of-the-art standards and it was not readily possible to install larger-sized dies. What to do? Start all over with a new machine or build on years of proven service? Although it was preferable to salvage the value of the current machine, the customer considered acquiring a new one. A new machine would already meet certain specifications – such as a defined installation height and meet a high technological standard. On the other hand, there was the price tag of a new machine.

The task: update on industry standard

Before making the final decision, the customer once again called on the experts from KUKA, who had been there to advise on the original acquisition. After a rigorous evaluation of the mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and controller elements, the answer was clear: In this instance, investing in a general overhaul would be worth it. That is not always the case. “There are situations where – depending on the scope and level of the upgrade – an overhaul approaches the price of a new machine,” explains Eberhard Amrhein. “Nevertheless, certain parts remain old and it still costs about 80 or 90 percent of the new price tag to refurbish the machine. Depending on its size and functions, a new machine can also be built relatively quickly. You have to assess it case by case.” 

The solution: Retrofitting to latest standards

In accordance with customer requirements, the retrofit package – new base elements, new safety guarding, increased installation height for larger dies – was implemented cost-efficiently by KUKA Industries. KUKA scored especially highly for its integration of the new controller: it was particularly important to the customer that the controller for the trimming press should meet the latest standards – which is the case with the Dialog IV from KUKA. The PC-based controller was specially developed by KUKA for and together with customers such as this automotive supplier. The monitor and touchscreen allow tool-specific programs to be simply and intuitively created, modified, saved and reproduced. Beyond this, robust hardware buttons enable easy operation of the press – even in harsh foundry conditions where dirt makes it difficult to work with a touch display.
New and modified: The trimming press was optimized according to customer requirements by the KUKA experts.

Spare parts availability as with a new purchase

In the course of a general overhaul, it is not usually possible to avoid the machine being out of service for a certain time. “For a system with robots, these can be replaced with identical units and the programming trans-ferred if necessary. That is not always possible with a press,” explains Eberhard Amrhein. In order to minimize downtime, the customer had to plan the procedure very carefully and adapt production accordingly. From the time of dismantling to recommissioning and acceptance at the plant, several weeks pass. During this process, the machine is completely disassembled down to its individual components and cleaned. All faulty or worn components are then exchanged for new parts. In this way, the overhauled machine receives the same spare parts warranty as a new machine
“Now, the customer can relax for another 16 years,” says Eberhard Amrhein with a smile.

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