Established in 1984, the brainchild of Engineer Luciano Passoni, SIR Soluzioni Industriali Robotizzate (Modena), is now one of the leading system integrators in the European market. With solutions covering all areas of robotics applications, the Modena-based company has installed more than 3,600 systems worldwide at the premises of many prestigious customers and in all sectors of the modern manufacturing industry. Specifically, automation in the automotive industry has always been SIR’s core business: the specifications laid down by the automotive industry in terms of quality repeatability, cycle times, and efficiency make it the ultimate test bed for modern robotics.
In the foundry industry, the Modena-based integrator has implemented particularly large lines, made up of tens of cascading robots that produce the cores for casting the motor heads of heavy duty vehicles. With an 80-second cycle time, these robots are used to carry out tasks such as picking up individual elements coming out of the core shooters, deburring them using dedicated high-precision spindles, and assembling them by gluing and screwing them together. State-of-the-art vision systems and highly complex dedicated end-effectors are used when picking up and inserting the components that will make up the final core. The core machining lines are combined with SIR’s more traditional achievements in the field of cutting and grinding cast iron elements or cutting sprues and deburring aluminium castings, implemented through the standardised and patented solution of the rotating tool holder unit, with elements to be handled onboard the robot. The tools (grinders, discs, milling cutters, belts, etc.) are interchangeable, depending on the material to be machined and the machining required, and are equipped with passive unidirectional or multidirectional compensation so as to ensure constant tool contact and, as a result, repeatable machining quality.
PROCESSES FOLLOWING INITIAL MACHINING
After the first components have been machined on machine tools, the SIR robots come into play again to deburr and finish the profiles and holes. In these cases, the element is not grabbed by the robot but is usually placed on a two-axis rotator, which can provide it to the anthropomorphic robot in the most convenient position to complete the current machining profile. The robot is normally equipped with a spindle, which is entirely designed and manufactured by SIR (both the electrical and mechanical parts), with multidirectional compensation and automatic tool change. The tools are stored in a dedicated tool storage unit, while programming takes place using conventional offline simulation techniques, which significantly reduce the amount of production downtime required to commission a new element.
In the last few years, SIR has gained experience in welding car chassis, which has allowed it to develop increasingly complex and high-performance applications, including component handling and positioning, riveting, and gluing. In such solutions, intelligent workload balancing concepts are applied so that if one robot in the line stops, the other manipulators will immediately compensate for it. At the end of the production cycle, special 3D vision systems allow weld beads to be inspected in order to check their volume and highlight any discontinuities. The fact that metrology heads are fitted on the robot also allows for dimensional control of the assembled chassis, even with very tight tolerances, by comparing its reconstructed image with its nominal CAD.
The assembly of complex components is one of the most top-rated applications in the field of robotics. The assembly of thermal thruster distribution units is among the most interesting implementations, requiring the robots to perform complex tasks with extreme accuracy in a highly integrated environment, allowing the whole line to adapt to the code currently in production, thanks to the implemented retooling capabilities. In addition, various solutions are implemented in the field of electric motors for cars, such as the assembly of bar or magnet rotors. The insertion of copper bars, which are selected according to strict size and flatness tolerances by means of three-dimensional sensors, into the lamellar tube bundle is a delicate process that must be carried out with the utmost precision and with the aid of a state-of-the-art vision system. SIR has also dealt with manufacturing the stator assembly and the resulting coupling with the rotor by using lines capable of loading/unloading all the auxiliary machining units as well as cleaning, leak testing, electrical testing, deburring and taking care of the final fitting of the rotor, shaft and bearings.
WIDE-RANGING ROBOTICS SOLUTIONS
Having access to extremely varied know-how, due to the countless applications installed worldwide in 36 years of activity, allows SIR to perform a horizontal transposition of methods and technologies from sector to sector and from one production stage to another. This is precisely the key to the success of the Modena-based company and the driving force that gives SIR the opportunity to cover entire production processes.