A new multidirectional tool changer from the special purpose vehicles manufacturer Hubtex was especially designed for the application at Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, for transporting and changing injection moulding tools.
This vehicle with a capacity of 50.000 kg is based on an existing design from Hubtex and has been further developed for the operation at the Volkswagen plant. Starting point for the new truck was the requirement for a flexible solution with a high positioning accuracy. Previously the injection moulding tools were transported by a railbound vehicle which could not be used anymore due to production expansion. The core of the development was the implementation of a safe docking process on the different machines as well as fast and safe tool changing.
The tool changer can be positioned exactly in front of the injection moulding machine in order to make the docking process as easy as possible for the operator. For this purpose the different docking situations at the machines, preheating stations and storage locations have been taken into consideration. The operator is supported by integrated sensor technology which makes the exact positioning possible. The tool changer is connected to the injection moulding machine by locking pins. Possible height differences are compensated by the mechanical levelling device.
The actual tool changing process starts with the data connection between the vehicle and the injection moulding machine. After the opening of the machine’s sliding doors the tool changing happens through a push or pull system. The shifting table is equipped with replaceable brass strips for the protection of the tools.
Due to the close cooperation between Volkswagen and Hubtex engineers during the development process the new vehicle was perfectly matched to the application requirements. Thus, for example, the gripping system can be remote controlled whereby the operator does not have to enter onto the transfer table area. The vehicle is also equipped with a laser supported security system that monitors dangerous areas of the truck at critical times to ensure user and bystander safety along with crash avoidance. A sensor-supported monitoring tool changing with a high leel of process reliability is implemented. pb