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Case Study Daimler – Sumcab

Coherent assortment of products and services 

As a partner to manufacturers and operators of industrial robots, SUMCAB Specialcable GmbH also sees itself as a supplier of technical problem solutions combined with an extensive range of services along with qualitatively high-value products. SUMCAB is a specialist in optimising the mechatronic robotics periphery by delivering and integrating customized cable systems up to robot-guided tools and hand-held programming units.

The SUMCAB mechatronic robot periphery has been successful in various industrial robot applications in the production systems at the Powertrain plants of Mercedes Benz in Untertürkheim (Germany).

The legend of the automobile has been characterised and automotive history written at the main Daimler AG plant in Germany for more than 110 years. Today, it is the lead plant in the worldwide Powertrain productin network of this automobile manufacturer. The core of the automobile is produced in several factories of the above mentioned high-tech site: motor, transmission, drive shafts and accessories

Numerous industrial robots for the most diverse manufacturing applications are used in the various production and technology centres. This includes assembly and handling applications as well as various welding and mechanical joining processes, such as shielded metal arc welding and robot-guided fastening tools.

Products and service in demand

Many industrial robots from different manufacturers have been equipped with cable systems by SUMCAB Specialcable GmbH at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Untertürkheim. The Powertrain plant operation has gained positive experiences for many years with the mechatronic products of this cable specialist in Pfledelbach (Baden-Württemberg, Germany).

Competent on-site service is even more important than the hardware delivered for the operators in the robotics areas. It is especially crucial that the robot periphery delivered can be used to meet the high demands. Incorrectly optimised robot installations can be connected to and range from increased wear and tear to failure-related production outages.

SUMCAB supports robot engineering in finding solutions for difficult application cases. Standard solutions cannot always be implemented in application-specific power supplies to robots. By taking into account all the system conditions, system requirements and environmental influences, suitable solutions often need to be developed and constructed customized specifically to the robot model. SUMCAB has special expertise in this area and thus offers its clients even more customised and far-reaching services.

Operating safety guaranteed

Daimler AG was a pilot client in introducing the newly developed cable retraction system MTPReelTM (Multi Teach Pendant Reel) for programmed hand-held devices. Back then, the Powertrain department was willing to put the units to the most exhaustive test at the different operating sites in the production areas. In this case, the various alternative designs for the different robot control units were tested in the forge shop-floor, foundry shop, welding shop and the assembly.

The cable retraction system was especially designed for the connecting cables of the hand-held programming units of industrial robots and mobile control panels. After hand-held programming unit has been used, it ensures that the connecting cable is stored in an orderly and safe manner. It is thus equally available for the robot brands implemented in Untertürkheim — ABB, KUKA and YASKAWA — as well as for the mobile panels by SIEMENS and KEBA and many other robot manufacturers.

The MTPReelTM ensures that the connecting cables of the hand-held programming units for the robots do not lie around in a mess on the floor. There, they could become stumbling block for the employees or become defective due to the forklift traffic. A rotating contact transmission system ensures the sensitive safety functioning of the hand-held devices, such as the enabling switch and the emergency shut-off being transmitted smoothly in a secure process. Comprehensive operating safety is guaranteed and confirmed by the in-depth studies conducted by the TÜV before introduction to the market.

The MTPReelTM has been adapted by several reputable robot and mobile panel manufacturers in their product ranges in the meantime. This represents an added advantage for the system operators in the robot fields since the liability and warranty are transferred to the robot manufacturer in case of claims.

Heavy demand for cable packages


SUMCAB is represented at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Untertürkheim with an additional product range from the SUMCAB portfolio: the cable package system for industrial robots.

Depending on the requirement, the industrial robots are equipped to meet technically different demands in the relevant technology centres. As a result, the differences in execution of the handling robots in the foundry shop usually cannot be compared with the demands in the transmission or motor assembly. The cable package technology to be implemented is thus stipulated in the specifications sheet based on the operation site regarding the technological and production environmental for the external system supplier.

In this connection, SUMCAB has established and proven itself as an authorised supplier according to specification at the Powertrain department at Daimler AG. In this case, cable packages are delivered that are technically standardised in part and yet can be implemented variably in construction. Predominantly the pneumatics, voltage and signal supply for the tool systems result in reliable production processes for the Powertrain department in the SUMCAB robot periphery. Included are also case-by-case cables for robot-guided industrial fastening tools as well as a mandatory field bus system. A recurring issue is also the cables for the image processing and special technologies.

Challenges for the cable package components are posed by the intensive use of the levels of freedom as well as the large range of movement covered by the robots. There are three shifts a day at the Untertürkheim site, in part six days a week. Due to their increasing service life, the availability of the robots and the necessary durability of the periphery are of crucial significance.

Time windows for maintenance and repairs are usually tightly calculated during the week and are usually only sufficient at the weekend. The heat and contamination are additional stress factors just as much as the weld splatters occurring during path welding. The demands on the products are thus enormous.

Good service as a special strength

The powertrain department highlights good service as one of SUMCAB’s special strength. SUMCAB not only delivers specialized products but also supports clients in the installation and integration of cable systems to their industrial robots. When problem areas in the energy supply cables are identified, then SUMCAB was often called upon to find and implement matching solutions for the robots. Cable packages partially in existence by other manufacturers were replaced by SUMCAB products. In this case, SUMCAB repeatedly received the order to optimise the existing systems.

Their services are drawn upon when needed by the departments. SUMCAB provides the necessary flexibility and places qualified personnel at the client’s disposal. The service technicians arrive at the operation site quickly and take on the task on hand. When the production has been interrupted due to a disorder, then corrective measures are quickly taken. SUMCAB provides the necessary service as a single source.

SUMCAB offers the following range of services in its service portfolio:

  • Support in extending and assembling cable systems, in the initial assembly of systems and in optimising older systems
  • Preventive maintenance in equipped operation systems (preventive servicing as an external supplier of services on site)
  • Repair of cable packages and MTPReelTM delivered
  • Supplier for constructive solutions in case of technical challenges