Sumitomo (SHI) Demag drives automation concepts forward at Fakuma 2023

With the momentum for higher productivity gathering speed, all eight Sumitomo (SHI) Demag machines being exhibited at Fakuma 2023 will feature automation. Three will showcase the company’s in-house SAM ‘Easy Automation’ concept.

Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Plastics Machinery GmbH, Schwaig - October 2023.

Building on the company’s robust SAM strategy, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag will reveal its complete integration and automation competence, showcasing its three-tiered approach at Fakuma 2023. The exhibits cover everything from small footprint, compact automated turnkey cells installed on IntElect 75 ton machines designed to support mass-manufacturers boost productivity, to more complex multi-tasking robots customised in collaboration with expert partners to meet specific industry and application handling requirements.


All eight machine exhibits - four on the Sumitomo (SHI) Demag booth (Hall B1, Stand 1105), the remainder on technology partner stands - feature some form of automation. Designed to maximise efficiency and growth, integrated automation is proven to increase part quality, expediate production runs and support workforce safety.

Any task performed faster, more reliably and efficiently gives polymer processors a competitive edge and higher production capacity, notes Automation Business Unit Director Jürgen Schulze. However, one size doesn’t fit all. For this reason, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag has grouped the various automation options into distinct categories. Elements of all three options will be showcased on seven all-electric IntElect machines and one El-Exis SP injection moulding unit at the bi-annual German trade fair.

‘Easy Automation’ offers a compact, standardised solution to alleviate repetitive and labour intensive tasks. Given the current labour challenges, this type of integrated automation can often generate a fast return on investment, while also enabling operatives to be assigned to more value-added production tasks. ‘Customised Automation’ is defined as flexible, user-friendly robotics for more complex and product-specific applications. While ‘Industry Solutions’ blends automation concepts developed specifically for high speed packaging and medical applications, typically in collaboration with longstanding automation partners.


SAM focuses on handling tasks

Engineered in-house, the SAM-C (Sumitomo (SHI) Demag . Automation . Machine) Cartesian portfolio includes efficient handle&place and handle&box robots, all fully integrated into a low height, compact, and energy-efficient IntElect injection moulding machine. “The optimised robot mechanisms combined with our injection moulding machines offer the smallest production footprint,” affirms Schulze. For ease of operation, the SAM-C robotic system is fully integrated into the IntElect machine control system.

“SAM-C responds to the market demands for high availability, low maintenance automation solutions that require minimal human intervention.  In addition to increasing production capacity of standard components, this ‘Easy Automation’ range simultaneously addresses the skills and labour challenges many currently face. Customers benefit from process and system technology from a single supplier source, complete with hardware and software control integration and robotic mechanics fully customised to Sumitomo (SHI) Demag machines,” highlights the automation expert.

Available in four payload  sizes – three, five, ten and 20 kg – the SAM-C robots are designed specifically for injection moulding machines with clamp force sizes between 50 and 500 tons, and for standard applications with cycle times of 10 seconds and higher. All of the robots incorporate Sumitomo (SHI) Demag’s "myConnect" web-based software. Giving customers direct access to a wide range of fully networked support services to help better manage inefficiencies, reduce costs, optimise total cost of ownership, troubleshoot errors and minimise downtime.


Efficiently separating and boxing components

The main Sumitomo (SHI) Demag stand (Hall B1, Stand 1105) features two IntElect 75 ton machines, each equipped with a SAM-C robot. One will be manufacturing 25 gram measuring callipers every 22 seconds, using a linear 4-axis SAM-C5 handle&box robot to separate the sprues and components before placing them into small-load containers.

Included in this cell is a storage and conveyor system with buffer and integrated boxing unit designed to transport small-load containers. The conveyor mechanism was developed collaboratively with an established partner. However, all of the software and hardware control integration was engineered by Sumitomo (SHI) Demag’s automation experts in-house. Resulting in a fully optimised process from production to boxing. For manufacturers that don’t require component removal from the tool, the buffer system can also be changed to just automate the filling of boxes. Giving manufacturers even greater flexibility if an existing tool concept doesn’t warrant automation.  

A similar SAM-C system is integrated into the LSR IntElect 75 package featured on the Reinhardt-Technik booth (Hall 3, stand 3313). Manufacturing surgical dental protection covers,  EMDE MouldTec supplies the gated 4-cavity mould tool and customised gripper, producing and removing LSR dental components every 25 seconds. The customised gripper on the SAM-C5 robot efficiently removes and places four components at a time onto the conveyor, where they are transported to the collection container for boxing.


Simplifying CE conformity

Another IntElect 75 machine on the main stand demonstrates the SAM-C3 handle&place capabilities. Combined with a conveyor belt and sprue mill, every element of the injection moulding process is enclosed within this low height production cell.

Uninterrupted, this exhibit produces two consumer cover caps made of an isotactic polypropylene supplied by MOL Group. During the 25 second cycle time, 32 grams of material is injected into each of the two mould cavities, with the Cartesian vertical telescopic axis extracting the parts and placing them onto an enclosed conveyor.

By integrating all of the peripheral equipment with robotics and injection moulding into a single production cell, customers benefit from faster deployment of a CE-compliant automation system that can adapt to application-specific tasks. Because fewer customisations are required, it can instantly alleviate workforce pressures, notes Schultz.


Collaborating with automation experts

The company’s automation strategy, reports Schultz, is equally reliant on leveraging the expertise of longstanding partners to cater to application and sector-specific needs. The main LSR exhibit on the Sumitomo (SHI) Demag stand highlights the benefits of this exemplary collaborative competence for ‘Customised Automation’ with longstanding partner Sepro.

On an IntElect 180/570-250 LSR machine package equipped with a 256-cavity open tool system supplied by RICO, this exhibit produces 256 individual 15-gram single wire seals every 17 seconds. Rather than 256 components ejecting from the tool and falling into a box, the Sepro SDR 22X robot extracts the parts, placing them into a separation device. All 256 components are then funnelled into an individual receptacle, feeding into smaller packing boxes. This helps to determine the mould nest each part originated from, with the OPC interface connecting to the IntElect processing data to support full traceability.

This innovative SDR automation solution also gives the option to deposit a component at defined intervals into a quality control drawer for inspection. The frequency of these deposits are determined by the operative, for example every 10, 100 or 1000 injection cycle.

Two high speed IntElect exhibits complete the customised and automated Fakuma line-up. On the Sepro stage (Hall A1, Stand 1203), four cups in under 4 seconds will be moulded on an IntElect S 130/520-460. Extracting and storing each component from the 4-cavity Kebo mould tool is an efficient, multi-tasking Sepro high-speed linear robot.

For medical processors, the compact turnkey cell on the Hekuma stand (Hall A7, Stand 7202) presents Sumitomo (SHI) Demag’s competence manufacturing extremely narrow tolerance micro-components in high volumes at the fastest speed. Every 4.9 seconds, this GMP-compliant IntElect S machine moulds 32 perfectly straight pipette tips, with a 6-axis HEKUtip gripper system from HEKUMA, automating the demoulding and quality inspection process.

Schulze summarises: “Our Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Automation platform is a natural extension of our processing expertise. The addition of our proprietary SAM robot series, which will continue to evolve, reaffirms our strategic ambition. Optimised, productive and traceable processes to increase quality and manufacturing efficiency.”