Like any pursuit, the more you delve into it the more aspects of it emerge. This is the main reason so many hobbies get abandoned after just a few months - to really get anywhere, you have to devote considerably more time and intellect than seem to be required at first glance.
While automated systems are by no means simple - even at first glance - a number of issues are commonly overlooked during system design. One of those issues is often the cables that run power and communications between controllers and devices. If you’ve ever seen the rat’s nest of cables piled up at the bottom of a control cabinet, you know that dealing with all those cables was not a high priority in the principal design stage.
Beyond the control cabinet lays the realm of cabling that is an integral part of the automated system. These are the cables actually in the line of duty, so to speak. As a result, what to do with them cannot be an afterthought.
For machine tool manufacturers like Tornos Gurutzpe, which has delivered more than 5,000 machines over a 52 year period, cabling is as important as controllers and actuators. Specializing in large-capacity lathes, Tornos Gurutzpe supplies manufacturers of turbine parts for power plants, drill pipes for oil production, as well as for laminated and hydraulic cylinders. Its customers include suppliers to companies like Repsol, ThyssenKrupp Elevators and Halliburton. With major global end customers such as these, Gurutzpe has seen market demand increase for very large, long-travel CNC-turning machines. Some custom designs measure as long as 66 feet.
The design idea behind the company’s newest horizontal CNC-turning machine, the A-2000 4G CNC, was to create a reliable, resilient and efficient machine for lathe buyers all over the world. Key to this new machine’s performance and reliability factors was its requirement for a cable-carrier solution that could handle unsupported long travels and hot metal chips.
Gurutzpe selected the Guidelok horizontal guiding system from igus for the A-2000 4G CNC. Guidelok was chosen because it holds a cable carrier’s upper and lower runs apart over long distances when they would normally glide on top of one another. This separation means metal debris cannot settle between the two runs and cause abrasion.
At first glance the Guidelok system seems an unusual choice for the A-2000 4G CNC. The hot metal chips released during the machine’s operations would seem to automatically eliminate plastic cable carriers such as the A-2000 4G from the design palette.
If a customer has a concern about hot metal chips eating through the plastic, Joaquín Orbegozo, head of electrical engineering at Gurutzpe, performs a unique demonstration to set their minds at ease. He takes a soldering iron and presses it onto the cable carrier in a few different places.
“When customers see that this cannot damage the cable carrier, they are convinced,” he says.
This is the kind of attention to detail that is critical to solid, holistic systems design.