Efficient automatic feeding of CNC machines

by Hans Diederichs

KASTO has opened up a new line of business

With the introduction of its UNITOWER cnc tower storage system, KASTO has entered new markets and opened up a new line of business: automatic feeding of CNC machines. The system significantly improves productivity by continuously supplying CNC machining centres and milling machines with loaded pallets that employees prepare at separate workstations. The storage tower is loaded during machine operation. There are no expensive downtimes, and the entire system, including capital-intensive machinery, can run unmanned for long periods, for example at night.

Users can connect several machines – regardless of manufacturer – to one tower storage system. The UNITOWER cnc can be connected fully automatically to several setup stations and transfer stations by means of shunting units and roller tracks. The storage and retrieval machine (SRM) transfers workpieces to a shuttle wagon which automatically takes them to locations assigned by the controller. Partially and fully processed pieces are returned to intermediate or final storage in the same way.

The new system is based on KASTO’s successful UNITOWER tower storage system. With system heights of up to 20 metres, it offers maximum storage space on a minimum footprint. The UNITOWER cnc can accommodate pallets measuring up to 3,000 x 1,500 mm, and the loading height can be set anywhere up to 1,700 mm for optimum use of the available space. This is possible because the UNITOWER cnc uses a practical and economical zero-point clamping system instead of machine tables. In this way users gain flexibility in terms of height, and they benefit from an especially attractive price-performance ratio. Each storage compartment has a maximum payload of three tonnes, permitting trouble-free storage even of very heavy workpieces. Pallets are handled by a storage and retrieval machine with a crossbeam. Compared with paternoster systems, for example, this has the advantage that it is not necessary to move the entire stock, but only the relevant cassette. Together with the superbly efficient drives, this ensures fast access times and saves energy.

Intelligent control system and ease of use

The UNITOWER cnc is managed by KASTOlogic, KASTO’s software for warehouse management and production control. The software provides the machines with the workpieces required for each order, checks whether the necessary NC programs and tools are available, monitors production processes, calculates completion dates and determines the optimum order-handling sequence. Malfunctions can be quickly and easily rectified via remote maintenance, ensuring reliable operation of the entire system.

The UNITOWER cnc also scores high when it comes to ergonomics. It reduces manual handling of the workpieces, which can weigh tonnes, to a minimum. This protects the health of employees and gives them time for other tasks. The modular design of the storage system allows it to be expanded almost without restriction – a big advantage for dynamically growing companies. When developing the UNITOWER cnc, KASTO was able to draw on extensive experience from its own manufacturing. The result is a practical, sustainable automation solution for manufacturers in all sectors.

Source and photo: Kasto Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG

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