Aerospace OEMs Push to Automate Toolcribs

by | Jun 27, 2024

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Automation continues to permeate the aerospace sector, and manufacturers in that industry implement it wherever possible. From machine tending to material handling, automation ensures process consistency, helps lower costs, speeds production and increases output. While most of this automation happens on the shop floor, it’s now making its way into toolcribs.

Just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing practices dictate that machines are in operation at all times, and, thus, necessitate automated processes that enable unattended operations. It is for this reason that aerospace manufacturers, in particular large OEMs, are automating their tool setup processes, and the powRgrip toolholding system from REGO-FIX plays a key role.

What used to require a toolcrib attendant, is now done with automation to eliminate the risk of human error when torquing tools down and setting cutter lengths in holders. The savings as a result of PowRgrip and an automated toolcrib are significant, providing consistency and speed that only highly repeatable automated presetting systems can deliver. For some applications, toolcrib attendants and/or machine operators save an entire shift worth of time they would have spent setting up tooling manually.

For seamless toolcrib automation, REGO-FIX developed its new powRgrip Automatic (PGA) 9500 clamping/unclamping unit. The system is automation-ready and provides a simple way to automate the tool setup process when using the popular REGO-FIX powRgrip toolholding system. As such, it allows tools to be set up unmanned and around-the-clock.

The PGA 9500 easily connects via a robot to other equipment as well as to tool storage areas. Its automatic door and easily controllable clamping device make the PGA 9500 well suited for working within existing automation systems. Its space-saving design, safe operation and the fact that it generates no heat or hazardous fumes make the clamping unit the ideal solution even in limited spaces.

REGO-FIX developed its powRgrip system for stable toolholding when machining parts made from all types of materials. The system’s press-fit toolholding delivers higher precision, with greater vibration damping for longer tool life and superior part surface finishes.

The powRgrip tool clamping/unclamping units use automated toolsetters that load a tool into a holder in under 10 seconds, ready for immediate use. The units achieve a 1,100 Nm clamping torque rating, the industry’s highest, and their 0.0001″ TIR is guaranteed throughout five years or 20,000 toolsetting cycles.

Unlike other clamping systems where heat or hydraulics are used, the powRgrip system uses the mechanical properties of the holder material to generate its tremendous gripping force. Such taper-to-taper collet-holding systems deliver extremely high levels of precision. With how low the TIR is and how the holders minimize vibration, powRgrip excels in aerospace applications that can typically involve tool and/or part overhangs from 6” to 12”.

While the automating of toolcribs can involve somewhat significant initial investments, aerospace manufacturers recoup those costs in long-term benefits and savings. With automation-ready systems like powRgrip, they can also streamline toolcrib automation integration to set tools automatically in the shortest amount of time possible.