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ClampMAX Case Study for Multi-Pallet System

ClampMAX System Version 2.0 – Case Study

We were contacted by a workholding fixture manufacturer, who is a customer of ours, and looking for a hydraulic system to operate the fixtures they were manufacturing for two large pallet pool systems. These systems were being installed at a manufacturer of heavy construction and mining equipment. Each pallet pool system holds 30 pallets, with work holding fixtures on them, and each system is over 200’ long. Each pallet pool supports 6 horizontal machining centers for continuous machining operation.

The difficulty with these types of pallet pool systems is at one end you have two-part loading stations and at the other end, 200’ away, is one single unloading station. Due to that, operating independent hydraulic power units at each workstation would not feasible because the loading stations would have to continuously be refilled with oil. The loading stations would be putting more oil out then would be returned from the double acting clamp cylinders on the fixture. On the other end at the unloading station, the unit would have issues with overflowing oil, since it would be receiving more oil back then it would be putting out.

All World is known in the industry for finding solutions to complex customer problems like this one. We recognized that this issue would take an intelligent system with an Industry 4.0 type solution. Our team worked together with our partner at IFM, using their new PLC with an HMI interface. These IFM PLCs are new to the US market, and we were one of the first to utilize this as a part of the solution of fluid balancing between units. With this type of PLC package we could limit the number of ClampMAX systems down to just two units, one at the load station area, and one at the unloading station 200’ away.

At the load stations we were able to setup operator control stands, which provided safe operation and control of the clamping of the work pieces. With one ClampMAX unit and the IFM PLC, we could run both load stations, however we would still have a fluid balancing issue. To overcome this, we added a fourth valve stack with a dump/fill valve on both units at the loading and unloading stations, with one common line between them. With the use of an Industry 4.0 analog level/temperature sensor to monitor live oil levels in each tank, it allowed both systems to be able to communicate with each other. The end result was that they worked together to automatically call for and send fluid if the other system required hydraulic oil. If both systems were in need, then a general alarm would register on both systems to address the status of the fault.

This solution worked flawlessly for active operating condition status monitoring. Because we build using the Industry 4.0 smart sensor equipment, in conjunction with the Daikin hybrid smart hydraulic systems, we knew that the ClampMAX can provide a very cost effective solution for this system. In this particular case, we solved a long-standing issue for these types of pallet pool systems with a single hydraulic line, and an ethernet cable for communication between each unit. If the customer chooses, they can even connect these units to a factory monitoring system, so that they can give immediate operation statuses and part load counts if necessary.

Customers will have trouble finding other systems that are as smart (and have a better price point), then most hydraulic units with a regular PLC. Instead of creating a standardized product, our ClampMAX systems are tailored for each customer’s application because we know that every customer’s factory needs are different. And we also know that the future of modern factories will require more intelligent devices, like our ClampMAX systems, which are Industry 4.0 ready.

All the features are there, so the proof of success is in the customer’s satisfaction. The customer has expressed happiness with the concept, and our operational tests show that the systems are functioning as expected. Our team doesn’t just work for the customer, we work with the customer, and we get the job done. This project is just another great example of our personalized and hassle-free approach to products, services, and engineering.

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