Forward-thinking HMI for pipe bending machines

Forward-thinking HMI for pipe bending machines
Marginal Column

March 2017


The mechanical engineering firm Herber is a specialist in highly-automated bending machines for the cold forming of pipes. During the development of a new and future-proof operating and visualization concept, the company built on the know-how of Bosch Rexroth.

Clear and simple communication is crucial – particularly between man and machine. That’s why the Swedish mechanical engineering firm, Herber Engineering AB, requires a modern HMI (Human Machine Interface) that is designed for the requirements of Industry 4.0 for its highly-automated bending machines. Anders Alrutz, shareholder and technical director at Herber, is getting Bosch Rexroth onboard as a development partner. One decisive factor in this is the successful cooperation between the companies since 1994: Bosch Rexroth supplies Herber with hydraulic components, linear motion technology, motors, servo drives and CNC controls, among other things.

Fast and simple

Bending machines from Herber can also be found in highly-automated operations in the automotive industry, for example, as well as in workshops. For Anders Alrutz, there were three main challenges in the development of an HMI. First, it was important for him to continue to optimize the performance of the machines to increase the productivity of the customer. “Second we wanted an integrated teach-in function; that is, that the machine stops in a specified position and carries out a chamfering operation, for example. The machine ‘learns’ this operation and can then perform it repeatedly in production. Our third requirement was the ability to simulate processes in the software,” he explains. In particular, users who have no CNC knowledge should thus be able to create a program graphically. The motion steps of the bending head are defined step by step and displayed on the screen. Then comes the simulated machining of the real product, and only then is the CNC program created.

Focus on openness

According to a study carried out by an external expert on the requirements of machine operation, setup and maintenance at Herber, the experts at Bosch Rexroth compiled a customized solution specifically for the customer. For the fully electrically driven bending machines equipped with linear motion technology and containing over 16 drives, the decision fell in favor of the IndraMotion MTX control. The individually scalable CNC system scores highly with outstanding power data, comprehensive technology functions and openness: it seamlessly integrates into heterogeneous automation topologies through Multi-Ethernet. This is a unique selling point in the market, which was particularly important to Anders Alrutz: “We can also integrate processes such as deburring and milling in the control. This is also a reason why we decided on an open solution from Bosch ­Rexroth.”

A safe solution for the next 15 years: Anders Alrutz, shareholder and technical director at Herber, is satisfied with the new HMI.

A safe solution for the next 15 years: Anders Alrutz, shareholder and technical director at Herber, is satisfied with the new HMI.


Productive and up-to-date

The IndraMotion MTX CNC controller has many advantages over the PLC controls often found in pipe bending machines. It controls up to 250 axes and can increase a machine’s productivity by up to 30 percent. This is achieved through interpolation and the elimination of idle time. For each statement in a CNC program, an interpolater calculates the travel path for the mathematically definable path and the necessary movement of the axes – for both 2-D and 3-D machining. The control is operated via a MultiTouch system, which is relatively new in the machine tool industry. Since it corresponds to how smart devices are operated, the concept is clearly in-keeping with current trends.

From the launch of the project to its rollout in the first quarter of 2017, experts from Herber and Bosch Rexroth needed almost two years of cooperative development time. “We now have a solution that will last for the next 15 years,” concludes a satisfied Anders Alrutz.