Playing it safe: Swiss design engineers choose SICK safety solutions

SICK Pty Ltd
Thursday, 11 February, 2021

The machine builder BalTec has developed a novel electrical riveting machine. The previously pneumatic drive has been replaced with servomotors, which make the connection technology much more efficient and fast. This machine from BalTec is setting a new benchmark in the industry. When searching for the best partner for safety devices during the exciting development process, SICK was the obvious choice.

Klaus Huber is a mechanical engineer and individualist who likes to tread his own path but with a clear goal in mind: “In the end, it simply has to be ‘very good’!” He started developing the electrically driven riveting machine in November 2015 as a product manager at the mid-sized BalTec Group. After four years of intensive work, the “Electric” product family with its two mechanical sizes reached market readiness for a total of four different force ranges. BalTec produces machines for connection technology and is the global leader in technologies for radial and wobble riveting as well as rolling and pressing. Domenico Mollo, Managing Director at BalTec, added: “We want to differentiate ourselves in the market and always find the best solution for the very specific requirements of each of our international clients. Equipping our machines with the best possible safety concept is absolutely essential to us.”

Driver of sustainability

BalTec did not shy away from starting the costly and lengthy process of developing a servo controlled riveting machine. “As a rule, machines are strictly tied to one process technology with a relatively narrow processing window, but now the three classical forming processes — radial, orbital and roller — can be employed in one compact machine because the servo technology allows us to freely select and specify all kinematic parameters, including the infeed rate and speed of rotation,” explains Huber in regards to the design advantages of the “Electric”. For users, this means they can replace up to three pneumatic machines with a single electrical one and quickly amortize the higher investment cost through greater efficiency, higher speeds, and perfect precision.

Exacting standards: everything from a single source

When it comes to machine safety, the Swiss mechanical engineers were not willing to make any compromises. BalTec set itself the goal of achieving the highest performance level e (EN ISO 13849). They therefore chose to use the deTec4 core light curtain, the STR1 transponder safety switch, and the TR10 Lock safety locking device from SICK. “Using these three systems for access protection, we were able to implement the highest standard of safety for every variant of the ‘Electric’, all from a single source,” says Huber. The absence of blind zones, in particular, is what impressed him the most about the deTec4 core: “It enables me to successfully integrate the device into the overall concept and I consider it a great feature.” He also praises the design feature of the deTec product family whereby the protective field height can be set in increments of 150 millimeters between 300 and 2,100 mm: “That was well thought out!” The short response time provided more design freedom because it allowed the light curtain to be positioned close to the machine and an ergonomically satisfying workspace to be designed.

Short response times and successful design

With short safety times of just 40 ms response time, 100 ms release time and 80 ms risk time, the STR1 non-contact safety switch has also been incorporated into the “Electric” with sliding table. It ensures a high machine availability thanks to a large door offset tolerance. The compact design again offers flexibility in mounting. Furthermore, the high coding level of the actuator fulfills the requirements of EN ISO 14119 on manipulation protection without additional measures.

Good future prospects with the “Safety Assistant” app

BalTec offers its own Human Machine Interface (HMI) dashboards for setting up the machine and supports its customers with a training session on the function of this interface. That SICK already offers apps for on-site diagnostics via smartphone for this NFC technology is of great interest to the Swiss machine builder in this regard and puts Klaus Huber at ease: “It’s good to know they already have that in their portfolio and I don’t have to go looking for a new supplier again.”

Image caption: Klaus Huber, Product Manager and Design Engineer, BalTec

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