Insights from IMTS: Integration Key to Workholding Solutions

Trade show floors can prove to be challenging atmospheres. This year’s IMTS was composed of more than 100,000 attendees and 1,000 individual companies, each vying for attention. This can create a competitive atmosphere that pushes booth operators and experts to focus on themselves during those valuable few minutes of face time with a potential customer.

And there’s nothing wrong with promoting your own brand – there were a lot of great companies at IMTS, and they should be proud of their products. But what can get lost in the siloed, dog-eat-dog nature of the trade show is the end users’ need for multiple products, multiple brands, sometimes even competing brands, to play nice with each other.

One of BIG Kaiser’s focal points during IMTS was integration. Gerard Vacio, Product Manager, Workholding Systems, says that workholding is a prime example of the need to demonstrate not just the product, but how the product fits into the system of other products.

To demonstrate machine-and-workpiece clamping automation, four Unilock NSA 125 automation chucks are mounted on a simulated machine tool table, and the chucks accept pallets equipped with clamping rings on the underside. To demonstrate automated transferring of pallets, a Fanuc M-710iC is outfitted with Unilock twin-pin Robot Grippers to function as the interface to the pallets, with each requiring an adapter plate mounted to its side.

“We found strong interest in our unique offering from all visitors who were investigating 5-axis workholding solutions,” says Vacio. “Other booths were showing a complete vertical solution made from all of their own products. BIG Kaiser stood out by showing a systems integrated approach that included products from other workholding companies.”

For instance, Raptor dovetail clamping solutions are innovative and popular right now, so we integrated them into our 5-axis demonstrations. Our infinitely adjustable dovetail solution was also integrated into the demonstration as it allows the client to match the dovetail to the size and shape of the work. Solutions like Fanuc robot integration, rotary indexing with a Hardinge unit, and how other traditional top-side workholding products can interface with Unilock to become a true quick-change system like those from Zagar.

“BIG Kaiser’s complete vertical solution also had clients coming back for a second look,” Vacio adds. “They appreciated that we were showing them how to seamlessly fit into their current workholding solutions, or integrate other products they plan to implement in the future. BIG Kaiser’s 5-axis base has an open interface that offers both grid patterns and Unilock zero-point clamping chucks. We interface with virtually any workholding product that fits in the machine and that was confirmed by our visitors.”

Gerard Vacio demonstrates to the crowd the advantages and capabilities of a Hardinge 16C gear driven rotary table indexer equipped with a Unilock MSM 170 chuck for highly accurate and fast part transferring and clamping.