five styles of EasyBox cell, including a version with rotary robot motion for feeding one or two machining centres. Maximum handling capacities range from 250kg down to 30kg. Tey are all based on standard equipment that is customised with workpiece handling and clamping to suit each user’s specific needs, leveraging the long experience of Engineering Data in this area. Quick-acting SMED (single- minute exchange of die) tools integrated into the company’s EasyLock modular zero-point clamping systems allow rapid repositioning to within 5 microns. EasyClamp self-centring vices are also available. A recent product introduction is the EasyBox T30, a compact system with a footprint of just 2m2

that can

be configured to feed a machine from the left, right or front. Two versions are available, for storing 42 or 64 pallets. Tey are equipped with a three-axis robot capable of handling components up to 200 x 200 x 180mm and a maximum load of 30kg including workpiece, fixture and pallet.

Te single load/unload station is positioned at an ergonomic height at the front of the store for convenient workpiece clamping and unclamping. Te adjacent touchscreen panel for operating the robot is easily interfaced with all major types of machine tool control including Heidenhain, Siemens, Fanuc and Mazatrol. Most recently, an EasyBox T100 was introduced with a 5m2

footprint, a storage capacity of 32 pallets and a maximum load capacity of 100kg.

MACHINE UTILISATION INCREASED One French company that has invested in EasyBox technology is SAH Leduc, which designs and manufactures nearly a quarter of a million custom-made hydraulic cylinders annually, 24 hours a day, at a 27,000m2

factory 20km from Nantes.

To keep production in France while remaining competitive, the company turned to Engineering Data to increase the productivity of its machining centres. Tierry Hervy, industrial and

production manager explains, “Our single-acting, double-acting and telescopic cylinders are diverse because they are found almost everywhere, on mobile machinery in particular.


The touchscreen panel for operating the robot is easily interfaced with all major types of machine tool control

“Our engineering team uses Catia CAD systems to design the products and then finite element analysis and fluid dynamics calculations to optimise them. Tey come in all sizes up to a maximum stroke of 7m and with a diameter of up to 250mm.” Hervy adds: “Whether one-offs or

series production is involved, our strength is to analyse a customer’s specification together with a 3D model of their machinery and to adapt the hydraulic cylinder to suit the intended application, be it in agriculture, construction, civil engineering, industrial handling, transport or the marine industry.” He says that previously, the machining

centres in the factory were underutilised and therefore inefficient due to spindle idle time during workpiece loading and unloading. Additionally, the operator had to be in attendance for most of the time. EasyBox L80 automation equipment was an obvious choice when a new five- axis machining centre was installed. Four extra hours of production is gained every night, leading to return on investment that Hervy estimates will be less than five years. He says: “After the rapid development phase and start-up was completed, the automation significantly reduced the number of man-hours required for

production and the productivity gain is very important. “With this system, once the set-up

and programming for a new batch run are finished, the operator simply deposits each workpiece on a pallet, switches to the correct program and the machine starts producing autonomously.” Workholding devices specific to SAH Leduc’s production were also developed and manufactured by Engineering Data. Patricia Bouger at Engineering Data comments, “Our strength is not only to bring an automated solution for loading and unloading machining centres that is accessible to all and whose rapid installation on site does not disrupt the workshop, but also to propose a solution that encompasses positioning, clamping and supervision of parts. “We develop and assemble each solution in our Fondettes factory and test the functionality so that when it reaches the customer, after installation and commissioning – which takes from three to five days – and a short period of operator training, the cell is ready to start producing immediately.”

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