Foundry, machining and assembly

The current powertrain trend is to downsize internal combustion engines. The goal is to reduce displacement without sacrificing performance, all while maintaining or improving fuel efficiency. Teams continue to optimize components, which affects foundry, machining and assembly.

Foundry: Reducing downtimes

The high temperatures and harsh ambient conditions present during foundry are well-known causes of downtime. Balluff’s rugged and high-temperature-rated sensors and their custom accessories are reliable and long-lasting, even in a foundry environment. This leads to less need for replacement parts, less downtime, and ultimately lower costs for you.

Application examples in foundry

  • Level monitoring in sand core reservoirs

    Core shooting machines produce sand cores for metal foundry. Since the removal of the cores and the following machine restart has been automated, it must be ensured that the sand reservoir is sufficiently supplied. Ultrasonic sensors from Balluff measure the levels of these sand reservoirs continuously and without contact. They are unaffected by dust or dirt and can detect objects at greater distances. Their high resolution and small blind zones mean they are extremely precise. The levels can be output either as an analog measurement or by configuring two switching signals as min and max values.

    Level monitoring in sand core reservoirs

  • Slide checking

    To enable complex undercuts in die foundry, molds are typically fitted with slides within the tool. After the foundries have hardened, a reliability check must be made to determine whether the slide has reached its end-of-travel so that the foundries can be pressed from the mold without causing damage. Due to the high temperatures, standard sensors will not work here. With their mechanical limit switches rated up to +180 °C, Balluff offers an economical and durable solution for precise slide checking. These eliminate time-consuming failures and the associated costs. To protect the connection, use a Balluff high-temperature cable.

    Slide checking

  • Fill level control

    When hot foundry waste needs to be removed, sensors can ensure that the waste containers are not overloaded and that waste doesn’t fall off the conveyor. But at these temperatures, a standard sensor will not last long. Balluff has developed special protective housing for photoelectric sensors that extends their service life in conditions like these. With optional water cooling, sensor function can be permanently ensured up to +160 °C.

    Fill level control

  • Container positioning

    For removal, the container position must also be monitored. Temperature-rated inductive sensors from Balluff can be used here without any concern. Both their housings and their cables are optimized for elevated temperatures up to +230 °C. Various form factors allow the sensors to be easily integrated into various settings where space is at a premium.

    Container positioning

Machining: Increase cycle rates and process reliability

The downsizing trend also means more complicated machining and assembly processes in the production of future drivetrains. This makes it even more important to ensure process reliability and product quality. This can be achieved through high-performance sensors, and network technology and connectivity. For example, use sensors for process monitoring, level detection of process media, or sensor integration into tool spindles and machining centers. Cycle rates are also increased when manual production steps are eliminated. Automated tool identification using RFID also contributes to this progress.

Application example in machining

  • Automated tool identification and administration

    Cutting tools are changed frequently in machining centers. Balluff’s Tool ID system offers an exceptionally efficient solution for automated tool identification. All the tool data, such as tool dimensions, where or for how long the tool is used, and its wear state, are stored on the RFID tag in the tool holder and made available to the system controller. Now the tools can be optimally managed and used, and you profit from greater machine availability, reduced inventory levels, and minimal scrap. In addition, the tool information is always available and will neither be incorrectly entered nor forgotten.

    Automated tool identification and administration

  • Clamping distance monitoring on tool spindles

    Is the tool clamped in the spindle? Is there a tool in the spindle or not? Modern metal machining centers typically have tight mounting conditions, a difficult requirement for many position measuring systems. Fortunately, the smallest versions of our BIP inductive positioning system measure just 14 and 17 mm, so they can be used in even the tightest spaces. They are ideal for monitoring the clamping mechanism on tool spindles. Clamping distance monitoring can even be accomplished when the clamping mechanism rotates. Here the BIP detects the position of a metallic cam as it passes laterally by the sensor. An adjustable measuring range and high repeat accuracy ensure optimal process quality. Versions with an IO-Link interface enable simple wiring, diagnostics on-the-fly down to the field level, and automatic parameter setting.

    Clamping distance monitoring on tool spindles

  • Measuring process media pressure

    Monitoring process media such as compressed air, coolants and lubricants, or hydraulic oil have a great impact on manufacturing quality in machining operations. Pressure sensors from Balluff help you ensure that the surface quality of your workpieces is consistently high. Our pressure sensors offer great mounting flexibility and are simple to use, since they are equipped with connection housings and a rotating display. Their rugged stainless steel housing enables in-process installation. Equipped with IO-Link, the pressure sensors relay their values directly to the controller for precise regulation.

    Measuring process media pressure

  • Measuring process media levels

    In a machine tool, coolant and lubricants must always be available in sufficient quantity and reserve. Balluff’s BCS capacitive sensors are the ideal limit sensors for these media. Whether in direct contact or with no contact, they provide exact results and detect the minimum and maximum levels through the media container wall or with the use of adapters. They compensate for moisture, foam, and deposits of any kind, even through glass and plastic walls up to 10 mm thick. This enables them to reliably monitor the levels of coolants and lubricants.

    Measuring process media levels

Assembly: Ensuring quality and traceability

Numerous individual parts are assembled, step by step, and inspected at the end to meet the highest quality standards. Different motor versions sometimes run through the same assembly line. Even models with a combustion engine and electric drive are often produced on the same line. The multitude of processes and variables makes traceability and quality controls essential here. This can be done using Balluff's comprehensive expertise: our RFID systems collect information from the many production steps quickly and reliably. Our range of machine vision products ensures automated quality assurance in-process, and our SmartLights offer flexible ways to indicate operating states and conditions.

Application examples for assembly

  • Automatically document production and quality data

    To be sure all the work steps in assembly plants are documented reliably and without gaps, choose an RFID system from Balluff. Bolted directly to the engine block, the data carriers accompany the engine through the entire assembly process. As the product arrives at each individual station, an RFID head reads and supplements all the relevant product and job data. Real-time documentation makes your processes transparent. Reading and writing are automated, so that no manual steps are needed and potential sources of error are eliminated. The high-speed RFID system from Balluff is up to 8x faster than the ISO 15693 standard. This means even large quantities of data can be processed in a very short time. This can reduce your cycle times while your yield rates increase.

    Automatically document production and quality data

  • Automating quality assurance with industrial cameras

    In powertrain assembly, industrial cameras perform quality checks such as geometry and completeness inspections and do it faster and more reliably than a human could. Among the typical applications are checking O-rings for presence and correct seating. Thanks to the built-in Locator tool, it even works reliably when the parts pass by the sensor in different positions. Our industrial cameras also read bar and DataMatrix codes, which must be used with virtually every part in the car due to the variety of types and safety requirements. The industrial cameras are simple to integrate into conveying systems and enable 100% inline inspection of parts and assemblies. Plus they are compact and just as easy to use as a traditional sensor.

    Automating quality assurance with industrial cameras

  • Visualize production sequences

    Given the number of assembly steps, it is important never to lose the complete picture. With our SmartLight LED stack lights you can visualize the status of your assembly process with ease and flexibility. You can choose between run light, segment, and level mode, so that trends and errors can be displayed clearly at any time. You can also configure the various zones of the SmartLight individually for quantity, size and color. Changes are easy to make on-the-fly, without the need for mechanical adjustment. You can choose from among three different stack light sizes, and versions with a buzzer option are available for audible feedback.

    Visualize production sequences

  • Managing many different tasks

    Many different tasks are associated with powertrain assembly: Bundling signals, recording and tracking data via RFID, switching pneumatics, indicating operating states using SmartLights, etc. A single IO-Link master can act as a decentralized data compressor to handle all these tasks, eliminating the need for separate modules. Intelligent sensors and actuators are connected through it to the controller. This enables centralized parameter setting and diagnostics. Balluff’s port-specific single-channel monitoring detects short circuits, overload and cable breaks on each port. This degree of selective diagnosis is unique among I/O blocks. Thanks to the display, integrated switch, and web server, the IO-Link masters are also user-friendly. And with the corresponding sensor/actuator hubs you can also incorporate binary or analog devices.

    Managing many different tasks

    1. IO-Link master 2. Fieldbus cable 3. Power cable 4. Sensor hub (16 inputs) 5. IO-Link valve interface 6. SmartLight 7. RFID reader 8. RFID tags 9. Single-ended cordset M12, 4-conductor 10. RFID single-ended cordset M12, 4-conductor