Time is money – automated neck clamp overhaul

Admittedly, it’s an unequal contest. An industrial clerk takes on a filler fitter, both of them tasked with overhauling neck clamps. The aim is to replace the wear parts of 40 neck clamps as quickly and neatly as possible without causing any damage. The winner of the competition would seem to be predestined even before it’s begun. But that’s reckoning without the new neck clamp machine from Krones.

On the right you can see the conventional, manual variant. On the left, by contrast, is the semi-automated machine newly developed by Krones for overhauling the clamps. Both participants expel the old pins and bushes, and then replace them by new ones.
And this is the final score: 40 to 0 for the neck clamp machine.

The video clearly shows precisely how this functions:

First, all the pins and bushes are expelled. On the right, the entire operation is performed using a hammer and an ejection punch, whereas on the left a knuckle-joint press and the appropriate templates are doing their stuff. The expelled parts are automatically passed to a container, and the workplace on the left remains neat and tidy.
Then the worn leaf springs and the spring-loaded devices are removed and replaced by new ones.
Now the great advantage of the neck clamp machine becomes manifest:
the prepared clamps are placed in a slide together with the two pins and the bush. The user pushes the slide forwards, and several sensors immediately detect when the slide has reached its end position. Pneumatic cylinders fix the slide in position, and then the pins and the bush are pressed in using further pneumatic cylinders with a working pressure of 8 bar. Once all parts have been pressed in, the fixing lock is released and the finished clamp can be removed. This is accomplished in less than one second, which means total time savings of more than 50 %.

At the same time, the machine also serves for quality control. It detects whether the clamp is axially bent, for example, or the pins have not been pressed in correctly. Since the machine is simple to operate, technically trained staff are no longer needed for overhauling the clamps.

Even with a lesser number of just 40 clamps (as shown in the video), the time savings are obvious. Whereas on the right not all the pins have even been pressed in, on the left all the clamps have already been overhauled, and can now be installed again.

Given about 500 clamps installed in a line, then, it’s no wonder that not only the guys at LCS, but also the clients are enthusiastic. Which is why the first client who tested out the prototype also bought the machine straight away.

The neck clamp machine has meanwhile passed all acceptance tests. In its final packing, the mobile machine is hardly any bigger than a europallet, and can thus be transported quite easily – so it’s perfectly suitable for use at the client’s facility. And in the event of a power cut, by the way: the development team headed by the design’s initiator, Walter Gillitzer, have thought of all eventualities. So clamps can in an emergency also be overhauled manually, without requiring any electricity or compressed air.

For anyone interested: the neck clamp machine will also be on show on Krones AG’s stand at BrauBeviale 2015, which is being held from 10 to 12 November. We’re looking forward to welcoming you!