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Gear Manufacturer Achieves Consistent Quality with Automated Robotic Cell

An adaptive-finishing solutions developer combined an ABB robot, Renishaw spindle probe with radio signal transmission, and a twin-pallet system into a system that machines one gear while another is loaded.

Posted: January 6, 2020

Renishaw’s RMP60 spindle probe with radio signal transmission enables automated part set-up and inspection on multitasking machines, machining centers, and gantry machining centers. A kinematic resistive mechanism and frequency-hopping transmission protocol ensure uninterrupted communication even without a direct line of sight between the probe and interface.
“Deburring is now cleaner and safer,” says Katsa Oy Quality and Development Manager Sami Niemelainen. “With any operator willing to deburr using the robotized system, delays have been eliminated and lead time is more consistent and predictable.”

Deburring gears manually using grinding wheels can be an unreliable process, resulting in inconsistent finishes across parts in the same batch. Shop operators must be very skilled to achieve a quality and consistent finish; but even then, variations from one operator to another are unavoidable.

Manual deburring is also a dirty and hazardous job. It wasn’t something many operators working for Katsa Oy, a manufacturer of power transmission components in the City of Tampere, Finland, wanted to do. As a result, finishing operations became a bottleneck that often caused significant delays.

This seemed an ideal opportunity to automate. Katsa Oy commissioned Flexmill Oy, a company in the City of Nurmijärvi, Finland, that develops adaptive surface-finishing solutions for the aerospace, marine, and energy industries, to design a robotized cell that finishes and deburrs gears ranging from 2 inches to 5 feet in diameter.

“We invested not to make the job faster, but to improve quality and consistency,” says Katsa Oy Quality and Development Manager Sami Niemelainen.

Flexmill’s custom turnkey cell features an ABB robot, a Renishaw (West Dundee, IL) spindle probe, and a twin pallet system that machines one gear while another is loaded. The robot collects part-location data from the probes, which are mounted on custom-designed tool holders, before finishing and deburring operations begin.

Flexmill’s control software requires the exact geometrical parameters of the gears and gear teeth to ensure all excess material is removed. Some parameters are available for each of the many gears Katsa makes. Those that aren’t available are measured using the probe. The robot uses the probe for locating parts during set-up, with the resulting positional data used by the software to generate a complete, automated deburring cycle with no manual programming. Once machined, the probe confirms finished dimensions.

Renishaw’s RMP60 probe is ideally suited to this application because of its robust and reliable frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) radio signal transmission protocol. This means communication between the probe and its receiver remains stable even if, for example, line-of-sight is lost or if another radio source enters the environment.

“The probe makes it possible for the software to generate a full deburring program for every gear we manufacture,” says Niemelainen. “We only need to provide some parameters and the robot uses the probe to create the program. The result is that quality is the same each and every time we deburr a gear.”

Renishaw, 1001 Wesemann Drive, West Dundee, IL 60118, 847-286-9953,


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