Equipment to drill holes, if strategically constructed, can also be used to execute other functions. Consider the RBV X6 unit from HeBö Machinenfabrik GmbH, Germany, which drills, deburrs, and saws complex metal tubing. The machine can be used to produce anything from one-off handrails and metal balconies to floor heating manifolds and other complex metal parts in high quantities.

HeBö's RBV X6 borer includes a basic machine base, main support carriage, and operating unit. On the controls side, modular architecture allows reconfigurable processing. Construction data is entered on a Power Panel (a panel PC from B&R Industrial Automation Corp., Roswell, Ga.) or sent to the machine's CNC controller from the CAD construction.

“Open, modular control simplifies modifications to the number of axes and their functions,” explains Klaus Giessing, HeBö product developer. Measurement data is automatically obtained with 3D laser measurements.

The sole software environment is B&R Automation Studio. “B&R provided a sample CNC project, and then expanded it to include the initially required 15 axes,” adds Meikel Trier, who programmed large portions of the machine. “The open software structure made it easy for us to integrate the system's motors, which come from another manufacturer.”

Specific motion controls (created by HeBö CNC Dreh und Frästechnik GmbH) are also loaded on the panel PC. “We combine CNC, PLC, and visualization functions on this single device, so when problems occur, it can be exchanged to solve the issue without extensive error testing. We no longer rely on a separate CNC or motion controller.”

Application: Railing construction

The RBV X6 can be configured to completely assemble railings. Two program-controlled drilling units installed on the rotating feed axis swivel to 60° to accurately drill coupling holes or intersections. Thread cutting and core drilling are also possible with optional tools.

When equipped with a swiveling miter-box saw and hollow rotating axis, the integrated machine can also trim and turn pipe ends. “This setup manufactures continuous handrails, which will soon be required by law in some areas, on a single machine,” says Giessing.

An optional bar-loading magazine carries up to 15 profiles, each six meters long; by using this magazine plus an unloader, the RBV X6 fully automates assembly. The magazine's feed unit employs incorporated grippers to input profiles.

Unlimited expansion

The equipment's X20 I/O can be expanded to the number and type of inputs and outputs needed for a particular machine configuration, and allows for the connection of remote components, such as X67 I/O modules, via a number of buses. HeBö engineers use various X67 I/O modules connected via X2X, while a POWERLINK bus controller from the X20 series connects the machine's drives to the architecture. The multi-axis RBV X6 uses ACOPOSmulti devices; the inverter modules (up to 11 A) are available as double-axis units — to control all of the machine's 15 axes with only 11 inverters. If the RVB X6 is equipped with a bar loader, its I/Os and drives can be quickly connected to the machine's architecture via an additional POWERLINK bus controller.

HeBö engineers will soon use B&R automation to integrate additional manufacturing processes. “Plant engineers will then be able to replace entire production lines with an affordable machine, and unify cutting, forming, and heat treating,” explains Trier.

For more information, visit boehl-gruppe.de or br-automation.com.