High-speed linear systems ensure high utilization of assembly and packaging lines
When fractions of a second count
Tech4automation is a young company, founded about a year ago by Marc Schlüter and Sascha Smaglinski. "The trigger for the decision to found our own company was the growing need for fast-cycle linear systems on the market. We knew right away: this is something we can best implement on our own," explains mechanical engineer Marc Schlüter, who is responsible as managing director. "Conveyor systems are often the bottleneck station in packaging lines. If the chain clocks faster, it increases the capacity of the plant."
"Our goal was clear: to bring a state-of-the-art product to the market that is significantly faster than competitors' products," explains owner Sascha Smaglinski, who is a data communications engineer and technical business economist. In linear-cycle systems from other manufacturers, the feed rate is about 0.3 seconds. "The further you want to lower that, the higher the effort becomes," adds Marc Schlüter. There are only a good handful of manufacturers of such systems in the world. Market leaders use a classic rotary table with a three-phase motor – which entails a lot of non-productive time that can hardly be reduced. A different solution was therefore needed.
Gearbox with servo motor vs. rotary table with three-phase motor
Using Melior Motion gearboxes in conjunction with a servo motor, Marc Schlüter and Sascha Smaglinski have developed a linear system that is low in vibration, fast and also clocks precisely. The drive solution enables it to achieve a feed rate of less than 0.2 seconds. This is made possible by the zero backlash of the PSC gearboxes. A spring mechanism ensures that wear on the tooth flanks is compensated and the torsional backlash is very low at just ≤ 0.1 angular minute. "The gearboxes make the linear actuators particularly precise in positioning and fast," explains Marc Schlüter. "A servomotor with the gearbox from Melior Motion can apply much more torque to the indexing system than a rotary table for the same size. In addition, the direct power transmission means that the system has no additional control times that unnecessarily lengthen the movement time," he states the technical arguments.
Thanks to wear compensation, the gearboxes are also durable and robust. 20,000 operating hours or even more, depending on the application, are possible without loss of precision. An efficiency of more than 90 percent and a very low breakaway torque ensure high energy efficiency. The gearbox temperature remains at a consistently low level, and wear parts and lubricants have a longer service life. This reduces the need for repairs and downtime on the packaging and assembly lines.
The owners are so convinced of the precision gear units that they use them in all their products. The gearboxes are each installed in different sizes to match the design of the conveyor system and the length of the chain - from the smallest gearbox PSC030 to the largest, the PSC500.
In addition to the technical features, it was important to the two founders of Melior Motion to use the drive solution of a German company. Melior Motion develops and produces its gearboxes in Hameln, Lower Saxony. It is about 80 kilometers as the crow flies to Geseke, where Tech4automationen has its headquarters. The remaining metal parts for the conveyor systems come from suppliers within a 50-kilometer radius of the East Westphalian town. "With a German partner, there is also no language barrier and the quality is consistently high," says Sascha Smaglinski. Tech4automation also sells the precision gearboxes as trading goods to its network of partners and customers, which are primarily located in the DACH region, the Benelux countries and Scandinavia.
Conveyor system cycle time < 0.2 seconds
In December 2021, the prototype of the linear indexing system was manufactured, and Marc Schlüter and Sascha Smaglinski started sales in parallel. The figures simulated in advance came true when the prototype was put into operation: The conveyor system's cycle time is less than 0.2 seconds. According to the two owners, one of the most frequent questions is about the specific distinguishing features of Tech4automation's linear indexing chain compared to competitor products. The gearheads are also used in industrial robots, which means they operate with high precision and are very resilient. In addition, users can use a uniform rack width, regardless of chain link lengths of 80, 100, 125 and 150 mm. The linear indexing systems are supplied with a PLC interface module to reduce integration and commissioning time to a minimum. "The advantage for our customers is obvious: with a faster-cycling linear system, they can increase the capacity utilization of their assembly and packaging lines as well as make processes more efficient," Schlüter concludes.
Chris Morrell, Geschäftsführer