Tectra Automation engineers automated process system for world-first roof tile solution

The pliable lifting system

To implement mass production of a world-first roof tiling solution, Tectra Automation, subcontracted by automation solutions provider Yaskawa South Africa, engineered a unique automated production system. Using Bosch Rexroth aluminium extruder profiles, other componentry and Yaskawa robots, the system will facilitate the transfer and pressing of 200° C molten mineral polymer blend sheets, their cutting, packaging and palletising.

Tectra Automation’s scope of work included all processes from when product exits the double-story extruder through to the palletised product.

To address the issue of handling molten material at high temperatures, Tectra Automation designed and built a pliable lifting system incorporating a soft needle piercing system.

Custom-made needle grippers, each containing 1 138 needles, pierce the hot pliable plastic sheets and, using Yaskawa robots, raise the sheets and transfer them to the press. The needles are then retracted and pressing and product formation begins.

“Our working relationship with Yaskawa has proved that our two companies complement one another,” explains Nico Davies, Mechatronics Engineer, Tectra Automation. “Our dual experience and long-standing relationship are what secured us this project, which also would not have been possible without the specialised robotics supplied by Yaskawa.”

Early stage project commissioning commenced during July 2020, with the order having been received only in January. “The advent of lockdown under the COVID-19 state of disaster did not impact project process in any way,” Nico elaborates. “The team worked remotely with no difference in output, keeping to all project timelines. Onsite commissioning is expected to be completed during the first half of 2021.

Nico explains that the inherent flexibility in Bosch Rexroth products, especially its extruder aluminium profiles, allows for a degree of adaptability in the production process. “It allows us the leeway to make specific changes to the system as and when required,” he says.

“We work closely with our suppliers to provide a customised, flexible solution that meets clients’ specific requirements,” Nico points out. “This is not the first, nor last, customised solution that Tectra Automation has provided. In fact, highly specific customised solutions that meet clients’ exact application requirements form part of our comprehensive service offering.”

Custom-made needle grippers.

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