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Work processes optimized
for more efficient use of personnel

Housing manufacturer ROLEC creates more space for production by using Sherpa robots

ROLEC has its roots in the 1960s. The founder, Friedhelm Rose, revolutionized the industry by developing the world’s first sealed aluminum enclosures. Since then, the family business has continued to develop and is now one of the leading manufacturers of enclosures, HMI enclosures and support arm systems. Friedhelm Rose’s innovative power lives on today and has led to groundbreaking products such as the profiPLUS support arm system and the aluDOOR enclosure series, which won the German Innovation Award 2023.

All ROLEC housings are manufactured using state-of-the-art machinery. Using precise CNC technology, the finest fits and individual recesses are drilled or milled as required. Even complex product processing requirements are effortlessly met.

Before automation…

The production of customized aluminum housings for the installation of electrical and electronic components was a manpower challenge.

Some of these aluminum housings were machined in a single clamping operation on HAAS machines of the type VF-3SS. The 4-axis machining center was upgraded to a 5-axis machine and was operated with a mechanical four-jaw chuck from HWR. This was necessary to avoid clamping marks in the thin-walled geometry and to guarantee ROLEC’s premium quality promise. The processing machines did not have a media feedthrough on the fourth axis for operating a clamping device.

Although the production processes ran smoothly, the machine operators often took on tasks elsewhere within the production due to the long running times. After the machining program was completed, the spindle of the machining center was therefore regularly idle until the operating personnel registered the end of the machining, cleaned the finished part and reloaded the machine. The production management therefore aimed to use personnel more efficiently and maximize spindle time.

The technological challenge was to automate the proven clamping technology without changing the established clamping process.

The solution…

consisted of a SherpaLoader® M25 with electric spindle drive. First, the tasks were redistributed: The separation and continuous provision of material are now carried out by semi-skilled employees, while the qualified machining mechanics concentrate on production quality and automation.

In the new process, the SpaceBox is loaded with raw material. After the current job has been completed, the machine operator in the robot cell can replace the processed SpaceBox with a new one containing raw parts – using a pallet truck – and continue production immediately. Alternatively, the SpaceBox can remain in place while the processed parts are replaced with blanks. The new job is selected in the dialog control and the robot starts working: It picks up the parts, places them in the stamping station and then in the machine vice. The workpiece is clamped with a torque wrench attached to the robot. Finished parts are automatically cleaned with compressed air and placed back into the SpaceBox by the robot.

The approximately 70 housings in the SpaceBox ensure that the system never stops waiting for the operator. The number of personnel on the automated systems has fallen by more than 50%, which has led to a significant competitive advantage and gives employees more time for other tasks. The fact that the robot cell also runs in “unmanned night shifts” and produces output is a welcome side effect that has reduced the ROI to less than two years.

Matthias Rose, Managing Director:

“Our operating costs are heavily dependent on personnel. That’s why our goal was to increase the productivity of our qualified and experienced specialists. Today, our employees look after two additional production machines. Due to the short payback period, we immediately purchased the second CNC automation from SHERPA. And we plan to automate more machines in the future.”