As sheet metal processing is becoming more complex every day, the industry faces a growing shortage of skilled labor. Meanwhile, manufacturers who are investing in robot technology discover that it’s even more difficult to hire people with appropriate robot skills, let alone specialists who are able to correctly program a sheet metal bending robot. Manufacturers need smarter robot solutions to continue being successful.

Automatically create Press Brake and Robot programs by simply using 3D drawing as input

LVD’s Dyna-Cell is such a solution. This compact, robotised press brake comes with smart and intuitive CADMAN® software that in just a few steps can generate a collision-free robot bending program using the part’s 3D drawing as input. Operators can switch jobs in less than 20 minutes on Dyna-Cell, half of the time needed to create the program, the other half to set up the machine and bend the first part. The unique, universal gripper swiftly handles materials up to 350 x 500 mm to create parts without the need to change grippers. Dyna-Cell also uses LVD’s patented Easy-Form® adaptive bending technology for in-process angle monitoring and correction for top precision.

Dyna-Cell’s easy robotised bending get you from “Art to Part” in just 20 minutes

Let's first have a look at the trends that we have in the market, what challenges we face as a machine supplier and what the solutions are that LVD provides. First of all, the market trends in automated bending. The trends that we have already seen for bending is an evolution towards small batches and complex parts, short lead times and also narrow margins. But what we also see – and that is very important for the future – is a shortage of skilled labour. There’s also a lack of knowledge, robot knowledge, a growing demand for fast and easy programming, and the possibility of guaranteeing quality and automated production. 

Let’s start with the shortage of skilled labour. 

Looking at the situation in the industrialised countries we see a massive shortage of skilled labour. We put the question to our subcontractors and people involved in sheet metal working and 67% tell us that shortage of skilled labour is their number one problem. So this is a serious issue we need to tackle. 

Another problem is the lack of robot knowledge. We can’t find enough staff with a master’s degree and the same thing goes for highly skilled and experienced robotics operators. So somehow we have to find a solution to this problem. Another demand from the market is for robots that don’t take much longer than a standard press brake to program.

So we had to find a way to make it fast and easy. And last but not least, quality has to be guaranteed during automatic operation. This means that you have to give quality assurance during automated production runs. So these are the things we have to solve and the challenges we face. Now let's have a look at how LVD solved this. 

The solution consists of five pillars. First of all, the customers and the market are asking for extra capacity, a system that collaborates with operators and gives you extra production. The market is also looking for an easy and simple system, an automated system that is easy to program and use. The market also wants a flexible system where switching between jobs is effortless and in addition automated production has to deliver consistent quality. And last but not least – and crucial from a customer point of view – the system has to be profitable. 

The first thing that we will look at is collaborative automation.

How did we solve this? What does collaborative automation mean for LVD? It's a system that makes it easy to switch from manual to automation and vice versa. So a system that helps the operator with production because not all parts are suitable for automation, and sometimes you have complex parts or small series which are not interesting for automated production. 

The system has to provide the operator with additional production capacity at night or for big volumes while being easy to operate with an intuitive Touch-B controller.

The next point that we had to solve is making automation easy. How did we solve this? First of all, we wanted to program everything at the office. For this we designed a self-programming system for the press brake and for the robot. This means programming is completely offline and it has to be easy and fast thanks to automatic solutions. So that’s another problem solved. Besides this no robot knowledge is required to program the system or to start production. Lost time is eliminated by teaching the robot how to produce the required parts. Our solution is also designed in such a way that a single controller can operate the complete cell, so not just the press brake but the robots as well. So one user interface for the operator.

The next important point is flexibility. How do we provide flexibility?

First of all, the system was designed to make installation and setup at the customer’s fast and easy. It is a compact system with a small footprint so it doesn’t take up much space in your workshop. The cell is fully accessible for manual production so you can also use the system in manual mode. It gives you flexible stacking of products on pallets as well as an easy way to drop the parts in a box. Access doors allow quick feeding of new material with extra input pallets and an easy way to access the finished products and remove the finished project.

The next thing customers demand is consistency in production. 

So for this we have our Easy-Form laser system. This is an angle measurement system that controls the angle in progress. The system ensures we have an angle within approximately 20 minutes and also gives process stability and consistency as well as quality. It also means you have a consistently correct part and no failures in production. 

The last pillar is profitability. 

What does automation mean? We strived to limit the cost per part and this involves several aspects. First of all, the system has to be affordable. LVD managed to limit the price of the whole automated system to less than twice the price of a press brake. The system also has to be universal. It means we have just one gripper that can handle a wide variety of parts. The system is not only suitable for high volumes but can also be used for small batches. We tried to keep it simple because the more complex the system, the more expensive and less flexible it becomes. Also, complexity affects reliability. The investment can be returned in two years.

The graph on the right shows you that the labour cost for a standard press brake is very high. If you start to automate, the cost of labour will be less but the more you automate, the higher the machine cost. Somehow you have to find the right balance between flexibility and automation, between a complex system and a flexible system, and a system and a solution with which the cost per part is under control. 

Let's have a look at the key features of the LVD Dyna-Cell. Before we show you how it works – like I said before: affordable. And the next point is ease of use, which comes with the 10/10 rule. This means 10 minutes of program preparation in the office and 10 minutes to set up the whole cell in production.

As a result you can start production after 20 minutes, which also makes it interesting for small batches.

Versatile: there is just one universal gripper with cups and a clamp with which to handle small to medium-sized parts.

And flexible: the possibility of switching back and forth between automatic and standalone mode.

Discover how Dyna-Cell makes robotized bending easy and fast

Watch this webinar to see how the compact, robotized Dyna-Cell press brake can be programmed in just a few steps to create a whole batch of metal parts.