TAV (Tout l’Art du Verre) and Intermac recently worked together to create a tangible example of smart manufacturing. In this article we get a glimpse of how these two companies collaborated to reach a production line where the glass sheets do not need any type of human intervention – from entry to exit.
Innovative project – maximum process automation
One of the most interesting collaborations in the context of Industry 4.0. flies the French flag, illustrating how excellence in industrial automation and robotics can be integrated with the most advanced production processes. The ambitious project by Jean-Yves Glumineau has a concrete presence, right opposite the current TIV (Tout l’Intérêt du Vitrage Isolant) facility based in the Treize-Septiers commune (in the French town of Nantes): a brand new ‘TAV’ (Tout l’Art du Verre) flat glass processing plant. This innovative project is characterised by maximum process automation, with a view to creating a Smart Factory in the truest sense. The new plant is equipped with highly specialised technologies for cutting, grinding/polishing, ceramic printing, enamelling and tempering of glass: new machining operations that have expanded the product range already offered by parent company TIV. These new processes are mainly aimed at interior designers, furniture makers, metalworkers and builders working on large façades and glass door and frames.
High-tech equipment; new facility
To assist with the launch of this project, Jean-Yves Glumineau enlisted the help of Jean-Louis Piscina, a glass industry professional with 25 years of experience in the mirror sector, who is particularly skilled in machining and handling glass. In addition to a trusted business associate, he also needed a technological partner with impeccable credentials in order to complete the challenge, summarised by Jean-Yves in a single sentence which clearly expresses his needs at that particular time: “With this new venture, our goal was to ensure that everything was perfectly in line, and to avoid any need to actually handle the glass. We needed new, technologically-advanced equipment in order to eliminate the time wasted on transferring of glass sheets from one machine to another, minimising manual handling of the glass and preventing operators from having to spend most of their time pushing carriages around rather than using it in a more efficient, productive manner – working on the machines.”
Advanced machining technologies, connectivity, tools for simulating products and processes and preventive traceability: these are the key issues being tackled by Intermac and TAV as they embark upon an ambitious path towards automation, combining resources and innovative expertise.
The new facility occupies an area of 5,300 square metres, to which is added to the 7,500 square metres occupied by the TIV plant (set to be extended to 15,000 square metres in 2018). Indeed, when considering the new facility, Jean-Louis Piscina and Jean-Yves Glumineau decided that they wanted to give life and shape to a new industrial concept for the mirror factory, in the footsteps of the same philosophy that guided TIV in 2008: “Everything in line, with no need to touch the glass, reducing human intervention.”
The challenge of the TAV project – the fruit of a EUR 5 million investment – was to combine a vast range of skills, and to introduce high levels of automation through the integration of robotics solutions. The performance of the machines incorporated into the automation process is optimised, in a constant and continuous manner. The solutions developed by Intermac provide customers with absolute certainty, enabling them to know exactly what is being produced, along with the levels of efficiency being achieved. Automation reduces manual intervention and the risk of error to zero, so much so that the production output is nigh-on perfect. And that’s not all: with these systems, customers now know how long it will take to process an order and optimise this as far as possible, in order to meet the demands of the market in the shortest achievable time-frame. In particular, to respond to the need for maximum flexibility, a Batch-One process has been developed to optimise production and to customise even large production batches. This enables TAV to adapt production quickly, in order to meet trends in demand and to satisfy the needs of the market. “We wanted all the machines to be able to communicate with each other, and to work in a coordinated manner without operator intervention. We achieved this, with flying colours,” confirms Jean-Louis again. “We wanted all the machines to be able to communicate with each other, and to work in a coordinated manner without operator intervention,” Jean-Yves Glumineau, owner, who added: “Automation reduces both manual intervention and the risk of error to zero: now, the production output is nigh-on perfect.”
Production lay-out – from Intermac
Intermac has designed a layout which includes a Movetro dynamic classifier (the brand was recently acquired by Intermac) for moving the sheets of glass, accompanied by cutting tables for processing both float and laminated glass, a double-edger line, a horizontal work centre connected to an anthropomorphic robot and a vertical work centre served by a dedicated automatic loader.
The dynamic classifier is the entry point on the line: it is constantly in motion, and can be receive the glass in total safety without needing to be stopped. In turn, it transports the glass to two cutting lines: the Comby cutting line, for float glass and laminated glass, and two cutting tables that can work simultaneously but independently. “The distinctive feature of this line,” comments Jean-Louis Piscina “is that it enables float glass to be cut whilst simultaneously feeding the laminated glass line, without ever interrupting production.” The double-edger line is also set up for pencil edge machining operations, and the dimensions of the sheets that can be machined on this line range from a minimum of 150×350 millimetres to a maximum of 2,500×3,500 millimetres, with thicknesses from 3 to 19 millimetres. Furthermore, the same line incorporated into a Batch-One production process can adapt to machine sheets of different sizes, in a fully automatic manner.
The cutting tables are equipped with an automatic labelling unit, in order to identify the volumes of glass to be machined: with this system, the bar-code readers on the roller beds automatically track the position of the line volumes. Before loading the glass into the machining centre or the double-edger, the robot can check that the correct machine programme has been loaded, in accordance with the type of glass to be processed.
In the work centre, the sheets that can be machined in the double station configuration measure anything from a minimum of 150×250 millimetres to a maximum of 1250×1250 millimetres, with thicknesses of 3-19 millimetres, and are always replaced while the machine is running, thanks to the anthropomorphic robot. The customer can also choose to use the single machine in stand-alone mode, thus bypassing the anthropomorphic robot in complete safety and replacing it with manual operator intervention for loading/unloading the sheets. Where customers have specific requirements, they can choose to load the sheets directly into both work cells from a specially-prepared stand instead of from the conveyor line, without interrupting production.
Intermac – Biesse Spa