Linear actuators from Schaeffler have been selected for the EPS cutting machines used in the manufacture of roof panels, ensuring the machines meet the demands for high levels of automation and performance. As a result, production capacity at the plant has doubled

As a manufacturer of roof panels, Kluth of Germany specialises in the production of sloping roofs in lightweight materials, and is capable of planning, producing and customising these to specific sizes. However, converting the large format expanded polystyrene (EPS) blocks into custom-specific high precision Styrofoam parts places very demanding requirements on machine builders.

The roof and its related components such as insulating panels (strips), solid and acoustic fillers, counter slope strips, roof edge strips, vessel segments, joint profile fillers, expansion joint strips and other accessories, are manufactured from high quality DIN-compliant materials such as polystyrene, polyurethane and mineral wool in compliance with the relevant standards.

To ensure the quality of the materials used, the company produces the polystyrene, for example, in block form, using its own large foam moulding machines.

Defect-free production

Approximately 830,000 individual roof elements are produced each year, with hundreds of thousands of cutting operations needed. As a result, the production and cutting machines run at least 12 hours a day, seven days a week – meaning high performance machines with a high level of automation are essential.

EPS cutting machines, which automatically adjust the cutting wires using computer software control, enable rapid, defect-free production. With these, the automated adjustment of the wires is carried out using linear actuators from Schaeffler.

In operation, the 3000 x 1200 x 1000mm (3.6m³) blocks are trimmed and then divided up according to customer orders using machinery and equipment supplied by Dingeldein & Herbert Maschinen- und Apparatebau, a specialist machine builder for the EPS industry.

The range encompasses the EPS foam moulding machines as well as EPS hot wire cutting machines of the conventional type or with oscillating wires, block tilting devices and block conveying equipment, compact hot wire cutting devices, profile cutting machines and pre-crushers, plus fine grinding mills for processing of cutting waste. The machines are normally customer-specific solutions. Christoph Dingeldein, who heads up the company with his brother Markus, said that as the machines operate continuously across multiple shifts, they must provide maximum availability, high performance and quality.

Linear solutions

The EPS blocks are separated systematically into specific customer orders into ready-to-fit roof elements, and the cutting operation is generally automated. In order to adjust the cutting wires automatically at high speed and with repeatable accuracy, as well as with minimal set-up time, two MKUVE20-B-ZR linear actuators from Schaeffler are used. These adjust the individual cutting wire under computer or software control either in parallel or, where necessary, obliquely (for specially formed panels/strips).

The compact actuators comprise an inherently rigid aluminium support rail with high load carrying capacity with a fully integrated linear guidance system. They are fitted with linear recirculating ball bearing and guideway assemblies and two carriages, enabling moderate loads, combined with high static loads about all three axes, to be moved with high positional accuracy at speeds of up to 5m/s. The linear actuators have a total length of 2616mm with an effective stroke of 2150mm. The drive system comprises a toothed belt and brushless servomotor.

The actuators comprise profiled sections and guidance shafts cut-to-length from standard components and sub-assemblies and are supplied as ready-to-mount factory fitted units with couplings, gearboxes, motors, sensor, cables and controllers.

Christoph Dingeldein added: “We mount grippers on the carriage that allow the individual wires to be adjusted and set up quickly and with repeatable accuracy. The result is that the cutting machines can separate the EPS blocks into customer-specific roof elements without any interruptions. By using standard linear actuators, we were able to simplify the design of the adjacent machine, which means we need to produce fewer mechanical components which also reduces assembly work.”

According to the company, the cutting and customising machines have helped to increase the production capacity for sloping roof panels from 300m³ to approximately 600m³ per day.

The wire adjustment system has now been adopted as a standard configuration in machines from Dingeldein & Herbert, and several further EPS cutting machines have been fitted with linear actuators from Schaeffler. Similar linear actuators are now also used in other roof material cutting machines, as well as for the stacking and unloading of machined roof elements.


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