SANYO DENKI
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Case Study
Want to automate blade grinding machine operation, but have no know-how?

A compact motor with in-depth technical support makes a product development possible!

Blade Grinding Machine Manufacturer
Problem
  • Wanted to automate blade grinding machine operation, but had no know-how, and outsourcing was not an option...
Solution and Results
  • SANYO DENKI provided technical expertise and support as a supplier to help SMW develop their own new product.
  • Use the know-how of the motor industry to automate the motion of experienced operators!
Sankou Manufacturing Works Co., Ltd.

Customer company profile

Company name

Sankou Manufacturing Works Co., Ltd.

Business

The manufacture and sale of: various blade grinding machines, grindstone for use with Sankou blade grinding machines, and grindstone for knife

URL

http://www.sankou-mw.jp/company/index.html

In recent years, labor shortages have become a serious problem at manufacturing sites in Japan, and mechanization and automation have been required to improve labor productivity per worker.

Problem

Wanted to automate blade grinding machine operation, but had no know-how, and outsourcing was not an option...

Mr. Ishida of Sankou Manufacturing Works
▲Mr. Ishida of Sankou Manufacturing Works

The "circular blades" used to slice or peel meat from bones is one of the essential tools for food processing. Sankou Manufacturing Works Co., Ltd., which manufactures and sells blade grinding machines, was consulted by a customer, a food processing company, about sharpening circular blades. Mr. Ishida, in charge of blade grinding machine development, shared his story:
"Circular blades require frequent sharpening. So, in many manufacturing plants, grinding machines are always busy grinding blades one after another, consuming the operator manpower constantly. When the same grinding machine is used by different operators, in a technical training session for example, the resulting sharpening precision inevitably varies for each operator. Also, the customer, just like other companies, was suffering a labor shortage and eager to improve grinding efficiency while maintaining precision."

After that, SMW considered automating the machine operation, but ran into a wall due to lack of experience.
"To automate the grinding machine operation," he continued, "it was necessary to reproduce the skills of experienced operators, such as the hand motion to bring the blade close to the grindstone and the lever adjustment when pressing a workpiece against the machine. To achieve this would take the selection of motors and development of software, which were really challenging for us. We once considered outsourcing it to a partner equipment manufacturer, but this would mean not only that we would not be able to accumulate know-how, but also that it would not be our product anymore, forcing us to outsource even the after-sales service as well."
SMW wanted to develop it as their own product, so they looked for a company that would provide technical support to help them develop the product.

Mr. Ishida of Sankou Manufacturing Works
▲Mr. Ishida of Sankou Manufacturing Works

Solution and Results

SANYO DENKI provided technical expertise and support as a supplier to help SMW develop their own new product

At an international food industry exhibition, FOOMA, SMW visited the SANYO DENKI booth where they exhibited a 6-axis articulated demo unit, and consulted them about the issues they were facing.
After hearing the problems, SANYO DENKI made a comprehensive assessment of SMW's technical capabilities, and proposed that they work as a supplier by selecting parts for SMW and providing sample programs, and SMW handle processing and assembly processes. In this way, the final product would be SMW's own product.
SMW liked the idea and requested their technical support right away.

Use the know-how of the motor industry to automate the motion of experienced operators!

Before (top) and after prototyping (bottom)

Under the condition that the after-sales service would be provided by SMW, SANYO DENKI provided support to solve the problem in the simplest way possible for SMW.
"The motion of the operator's hand bringing the blade close to the grindstone was realized by a 4-axis drive with the XYZ axes and a pressing mechanism," he said. "In addition, the fine lever adjustment for the workpiece pressing motion was achieved by changing the current value to limit the torque so that it could be gently pressed. Such advice was filled with technical expertise that only a motor manufacturer can provide."

Furthermore, the superior characteristics of the motor also contributed to realizing the automation.
"The linear actuator stepping motor they selected for us was very compact," he said. "The stepping motor came integrated with a ball screw. In addition, both vertical and horizontal motion could be controlled with a 4-axis integrated driver and a small motion controller SANMOTION C S100. Despite its complex specifications, the system could be made very compact, solving the size problem and realizing experienced operator skills easily.

Building a mechanism for grinding blades sharply was also a major challenge because a high load would be exerted on it and connecting a motor directly to it would result in friction and damage in motor bearings. The motor that SANYO DENKI selected for us had a high load-bearing performance, and it was heavy duty enough to withstand the direct connection. A number of problems that once seemed impossible to solve are now becoming reality," he said with an impressed look.

With the aid of SANYO DENKI's high-quality motor and in-depth support, SMW's product development is advancing rapidly.

 Before (top) and after prototyping (bottom)

Servo Systems Div., Design Dept. 2
From left: Mr. Ohtani of SANYO DENKI, Mr. Ishida of Sankou Manufacturing Works

Date of publication: February 2, 2021

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