It’s always the same… in the production of technical products, first and foremost the quality has to be perfect, the process precise and fast (and these factors not mutually exclusive!) and work non-stop. An innovation in measurement technology is presented with the example of ‘Bendit Umformtechnik GmbH’, from Reutlingen, Germany – a service company grown up from the former ‘Pulzer Biegetechnik GmbH’ in Mittelstadt, Germany – with its team of experienced pipe-bending specialists. Günter Pulzer was deemed to be THE tube-bending specialist of his generation, his bending machines were traded like jewels – intelligent, fast and precise.
Today his daughter, Jenny Vollmer, continues to run her father’s plant. Bendit’s delivery and service programme covers the full range of pipe diameters from 1.5 mm to 100 mm and concentrates on the manufacture and supply of pre-fabricated, ready-to-install pipes, contract bending work and back-up solutions for the automobile industry, through to customised bend prototyping with tool and product development for small, medium and large series. And let’s not forget – quality assurance and documentation in production.
Often the times change quicker than is convenient for manufacturers. Not only hardware “aids”, but also digital “aids” are increasingly laying claim to more space in production. A single software package is not sufficient today, because the downstream tasks require another measurement method and also a new software solution. It is evident that so many demands surrounding the product need to be considered that they have to be considered left and right, as well as front and back, and above and below, all to the same extent.
Klaus Leistritz – previously known as a pipe specialist – no longer wanted to focus solely on pipes and their attachments, but rather to expand into other industry products in the same way. New measuring devices were developed, more mobile than all their predecessors. Homer Eaton, also known as the “pipe measurement pope”, developed a so-called ‘measuring arm’ in the 1980s that was capable of imitating the movements of the human arm and is still in use today. A sensation back then, taken for granted today. These arms were and still are practical – they are portable and can be taken almost everywhere, but their weight sometimes hampers fast sequential measurement.
The Munich based company PreciTrack3D developed and built prototypes of a new measuring device, a cordless freehand measuring system that had not previously existed. It no longer needs any cables or measurement cell, except for automated series production monitoring. The new devices are powered by their internal batteries. This innovation is available in three versions: for tactile measurement, infra-red measurement with a fork for small pipes or wires, and as a laser scanner, incl. glass, which is the state-of-the-art version.
The newly programmed “Freehand Multisoft” software, which covers several production areas, was integrated by Klaus Leistritz Consulting. All stand-alone solutions were combined to produce the evaluation version of “Tubesoft” and led to the Multisoft package, which avoids having to install several software packages in parallel or series. An ingenious new philosophy that still took 1,920 man-hours of programming, equating to a year of intensive development work. It contains all the relevant parts of CAD systems necessary for production. Interfaces like Step, Iges, STL, VDA and links to CMMs, e.g. Zeiss or Wenzel, are of course integrated in this package, such that assemblies can also be scanned.
The technology is taking great strides – OLM, the optical length measurement system was developed by Pulzer together with Aicon, from which the measurement cell emerged, marking the start of new measurement technology applications and paving the way for the electronic gauge –
away from the tactile coordinate philosophy, as revealed by Homer Eaton in his heyday that revolutionised the entire entire pipe metrology system. Jenny Vollmer grew up with forming technology, she knows all the measurement systems. Starting with OLM, continuing with articulated measuring arms, through to today’s freehand system, which Klaus Leistritz favours. She manages the company, which is also a “automobile direct supplier”, known for its quality, flexibility and commitment to deadlines.
Klaus Leistritz Consulting GmbH (metrology and special software), Jenny Vollmer (Bendit pipe bending machines) and PreciTrack3D (freehand measuring instrument) know the problems encountered with the part to be measured integrated in a complex assembly or if the part is too far away from the measuring system. Today you take the arm that we inherited, because it can obviously be used without any further thought – the logical consequence of where development is taking us and pointing the way into the future of metrology – fast, professional, result-oriented. Just as the yardstick has survived to the present day, other systems also have their own specific legitimacy, just like proudly taking the vintage car out of the garage.
Klaus Leistritz was the first to try out the new freehand measurement system. Jenny Vollmer was immediately thrilled and convinced, becoming infected with enthusiasm by the future visions, and all interested parties got involved and jointly brought the Multisoft software into being in order to deploy the freehand measuring system in as many production processes as possible. “The users of the system at Bendit were quick to realise the advantages. They used the system in a flexible accompanying role. Handling is intuitive in practice, the measuring instrument – tactile or laser – held in the hand is immediately ready for measurement. The evaluations are clearly structured without unnecessary add-ons, whereby complex evaluations and processing options also exist, such as the creation CAD drawings suitable for production, as well as various customised documentation
options. Jenny Vollmer says: “We at Bendit have integrated the measuring system in all work steps for quality assurance. As a result of our broad production spectrum, our competence particularly lies in assembly production.”
The competent support from PreciTrack3D, whether hardware or software, proved to be the criterion key for satisfaction and acceptance. After a brief familiarisation phase, the system had become an integral part of the daily routine, the employees were fascinated by the innovation that made their daily work easier, allowing faster results to be obtained within a short period, in the knowledge that development advances with a continuous stream of new results to meet the new demands of the market.