Production / Forge
The Next Step in Automation
Improvements at Forge, a key site of production
very machine requires regular service and, in case of wear and tear, overhaul. This stage was reached by the forging press, which the carmaker has been using in its metallurgical plants since 2015 to produce final gear–driven wheels for DQ 200 (Vrchlabí) and MQ 200 (Mladá Boleslav) gearboxes. The so-called final gear is a transmission that includes a differential and transmits torque to the driving axle wheels. Along with the “overhaul”, they also decided at the Forge to modernise the forging technology. Thus, ensuring the transition to forging manipulation between the individual forging operations using robots.
New forging line parameters
Capacity: 4,500 forgings per day
Forging temperature: 1,250 °C
Forging weight: 3.1–5.5 kg
Although the original forging transfer also represented an automated process, it had several disadvantages compared with robots, which led to the deployment of new technology. The main problem was the long adjustment times at the start of forging of each of the batches and in the long operative adjustment during forging – for every adjustment, the employees had to stop the line and dismantle certain parts of the transfer collets (a machine element used to clamp tools – ed.). The gradual wear of some parts of the transfer then also caused non-standard play in its guide, which negatively affected the accuracy of inserting the forgings into the die cavities (forging moulds – ed.).
Robotic forging manipulation has produced benefits that significantly increase the forging line productivity throughout the production cycle. For example, the initial adjustment of a new forging batch is accelerated by the possibility to run the entire forging flow using standards (sample pieces – ed.). These are used to verify in detail the settings for the insertion of forgings into the cavities of forging tools, and the Tool Shop used 3D printing to produce them. The new solution also accelerated the operative adjustment of the positioning of forgings in die cavities. It currently takes place via the line control panel where the operator enters the necessary corrections, which are immediately projected into the robot programs. The machine modernisation also contributed to streamlining the care of forging tools, which has a positive impact on their service life, and increased the capacity of the entire forging line. The last renovation innovation is the addition of a forging line rack, in which the forgings cool to the required temperature so that they are not mechanically damaged during subsequent manipulation.
The Forge produces forgings from materials of two grades, which is why a furnace installed in the line for one of them; this furnace requires a high temperature to transform the internal structure. This part of the forging line saves energy that previously would have been required for processing in standard annealing furnaces because it uses the residual heat of the forging. ED