A joint initiative between fibre reinforcement solu- tions provider for reinforced rubber products Taniq and German group Momentive Performance Materials to develop a new approach to increase the pressure resistance of silicone-textile-composite pressure hoses is making good progress, Taniq reports.
The company states that the global trend towards downsized engines and greater power train efficiency is being driven by the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption and has led to the increased adoption of high-pressure turbo- charger applications for the automotive industry.
The partners’ turbo hose project is investigating a concept that involves the reinforcement of silicone-textile-composite pressure hoses by applying an endless cord spun on the rubber hose instead of wrapping fabric textile around the rubber composite or knitting reinforcement through extrusion.
“To achieve this, the most efficient position of the cord is mathematically calculated and accurately placed using robotic equipment. This enables the use of reinforcement most efficiently and ensures that only tensile forces are applied to the reinforcement, resulting in a more flexible, shaped hose, with increased working pressures of up to six bars,” the company states.
“Higher-charge air pressure, naturally, results in temperature increase. “To meet this challenge, we have worked closely with Taniq to develop a heat-resistant silicone material that pushes the existing limits towards 250 °C,” says Momentive global marketing manager for transportation Oliver Franssen.
He adds that the new concept, which combines high-heat compounds and smart, efficient reinforcement, should also enable the development of new and more complex hose design, since materials use can now be better optimised.
Taniq marketing director Soren Blomaard says that the turbo hose is just one of the products that Taniq is optimising through its automated solutions.
Software and Robotics
The company has also developed special software as well as its Scorpo Reinforcement Robotics used in the rubber industry for the application of rubber sheets and fibre reinforcement in products in an automated process. This improves the production and efficiency of rubber products, such as hoses, turbo hoses, expansion joints, inflatable pipe plugs and actuators by redesigning their fibre-reinforcement structure.
For most reinforced rubber products, Scorpo Reinforcement Robotics, which operates under Taniq’s software licence, can be used for the efficient and accurate placement of the fibres and rubber strips.Even nylon curing tape used for vulcanisation can be automatically placed with a high pulling force.
The company reports that, in previous projects, this ability has resulted in a reduction of more than 50% in input material.
In addition, it has also facilitated the automation of the production of industrial rubber products, which improves consistency of product performance, quality and safety, and results in cost savings.
Blomaard says that another advantage of automated production is the significant decrease in production time.
“Building a medium-sized sleeve-type joint takes two skilled workers about three hours. With a Scorpo robotics setup, this takes about 30 minutes and only one nonskilled worker is needed to start the programme,” he says.
Taniq’s technology and software has two versions, a basic version that enables clients to manufacture specific products designed by Taniq, and a more advanced version, which enables customers to design new products themselves.
Blomaard tells Engineering News that, although the company has yet to supply a South African client, they are looking forward to offering their ser- vices to South African reinforced rubber product manufacturers interested in automating their design and production processes.
“We believe that this is an important step for companies with growth ambitions to take a lead and stay ahead of the competition,” he says.
Blomaard explains that the affordability of the technology and software will differ for every company, depending on the manufacturer’s production volumes and the amount of cost reduction that can be achieved for each product.
“The improvement of the product design with our software can save up to 50% in material costs. Further, when comparing the cost of a Scorpo robot setup with manual labour, you should consider not just the hourly rate but the total cost of that labour,” he adds.
“We [beleive] that labour costs are reduced by automating manufacturing processes so that companies can manufacture locally to supply their local market. Since most reinforced rubber product manufacturing is labour intensive, manufacturers experience major challenges in attracting, training and retaining skilled workers.
“Especially in India and China, it is hard to find and retain enough skilled workers and, with increasing competition between manufacturers, workers are able to easily switch between employers. “This introduces the risk of investing in the training of workers and then losing them to competitors,” Blomaard adds.
A second challenge is rising material costs, for which, he says, Taniq has a proposed solution.
“We believe that a major product improvement can be found in improving the reinforcement structure itself and not the reinforcement mate- rials. “In various examples, we can use up to 50% less material in the product to meet the same specifications,” he says.Meanwhile,
Blomaard stresses that it is important to first consider the manufacturing process when discussing safety.
“Using robots in a highly automated environment reduces the risk of casualties on the work floor because it allows you to reduce the chance of human error.
“Taniq expects that reinforced rubber products will, in future, be designed and produced more efficiently. This will be done through re-engineering the reinforcement structure and placing the fibres and rubber in an accurate and automated process,” Blomaard concludes.