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Alpha 550 G2: Modular platform for the highest volumes, small batch sizes and outstanding quality

Technology & Innovation

With the new, fully automatic Alpha 550 G2 crimping machine, the Komax Group offers the automotive supply industry a future-oriented platform. It impresses with high and reliable performance, offering the highest volumes at the lowest costs and is prepared for increased automation and networking thanks to its modular design. In an interview, Chris Schnellmann, Senior Product Manager at the Komax Group, explains which aspects were in the foreground during development and why customers can look forward to much more than an exceptional, quality product.

Automating and making wire harness production more flexible is a constant challenge for automotive manufacturers and their suppliers. The latter must not only offer the highest OEM quality to ensure functionality, reliability and longevity of vehicles, but also reduce costs and increase efficiency by reducing the probability of errors and rejects. At the same time, modular and standardized components must ensure fast conversion times and a high variety of variants, and intelligent technologies must guarantee seamless monitoring and traceability in the production processes. The aim is also to reduce the environmental impact and promote sustainability through optimization of material consumption, prevention of waste and the integration of recycling concepts. The market is pushing for flexible, digital and future-oriented solutions for automating production that are designed for maximum productivity and cost-effectiveness. Customers want service-oriented and automated production without critical operator influence as well as automated changeover and setup processes. This is precisely where the Komax Group started with the development of the new Alpha platform and now offers a pioneering solution for the automotive supply industry.

High performance and new operating concept
The Alpha 550 G2 is designed specifically for efficient automotive batch production and stands for high and reliable performance with the highest volumes at predictable costs. It offers: A fully automated and deeply integrated quality control system that ensures excellent results and minimal reject rates thanks to significantly reduced operator influence, a dual blade holder and the optional fast sampling function that ensures precise and high-quality processing. It covers a wide range of applications, communicates with all commercially available MES systems and can be continuously adapted to individual production requirements thanks to freely selectable process and quality modules.

In addition to the well thought-out service concept, the Alpha 550 G2 comes with a new operating concept. This protects personnel from accidents, as movements on the machine can only be carried out when the safety cover is closed. As soon as the safety cover opens, all electrical control circuits are interrupted and all motors are switched off. The Alpha 550 G2 also features an optimized setup process with safe manual teach-in of the swivel arm and three control elements for operation. With a simple HMI design, customizable workflows and over 25 pre-installed languages, it can be used worldwide with minimal training.

Chris Schnellmann, Senior Product Manager and member of the Komax Group since 1998, explains in an interview what the new Alpha 550 G2 has to offer, which special features were taken into account during the development phase and what explicit customer benefits it brings.

“We are working hard on the development of intelligent, networked solutions for further automation of individual processes, such as wire changes, seal changes or batch size handling."

Chris Schnellmann

You have managed the development of the new Alpha 550 G2 as the responsible product manager for the Komax Alpha series. What aspects were given particular attention?

Chris Schnellmann:
Our customers require solutions to enable them to produce the highest volumes, as well as small batch sizes in high quality. This is done at the lowest possible cost and with workers from low-income countries. There is also a strong desire for ever shorter setup times. We have met these needs by creating a flexible platform. The technology of the Alpha 550 G2 not only meets the latest standards and findings, it is also prepared for innovative and pioneering automation and networking solutions. We have designed the machine to meet the high demands for robustness and user-friendliness. For example, it was very important to us to be able to guarantee our customers short training times so that the machine can be commissioned in the plant without major time losses. We have also taken current customer requirements into account and installed interfaces for the future expansion of the machine.

⁠What is fundamentally new about this machine?

The operating concept and parts of the control concept have been revised. The Alpha 550 G2 has three controls with function keys for cable, terminal and seal for setup with

the safety cover closed all around the machine. The swivel arm can now be taught in manually with the safety cover open. To ensure maximum safety of the operating personnel, all motorized movements on the machine take place during the setup process with the safety cover closed. The Komax HMI user interface is also extremely intuitive and can now be expanded with workflows and dashboard apps. This makes it easy to implement customer-specific process sequences or evaluations. We also offer our customers a comprehensive service concept with tailored services.

⁠What customer requirements does the Alpha 550 G2 meet?

Our customers can look forward to a well-thought-out quality product, because we place great importance on quality from the development to the delivery of a product. Before we launch a new product, we carry out extensive internal tests, as well as field tests with well-known customers. We evaluate the findings and results and look for optimal solutions for our customers. Where none of the standard solutions are possible, we offer customer-specific solutions.

The Alpha 550 G2 was specially developed for automotive batch production. It meets the highest standards, is robust, offers proven quality at the level required by OEMs, as well as high performance and short conversion times at predictable costs. Customers are also prepared for the future thanks to the modular platform, which enables the integration of future automation technologies and network solutions. Thanks to the common parts strategy, which the Komax Group has also applied within this development, our customers have to stock fewer spare parts. All machines on the same platform have the same common parts, such as blades, toothed belts and electronic and mechanical spare parts.

⁠Quality is key in wire harness production. What does the Alpha 550 G2 offer in terms of quality monitoring?

In the first instance, scalable quality monitoring, such as the Q1250 module, which in its basic version carries out the test on the stripping of the crimp and the seal, but can be expanded at a later date with licenses for comprehensive checking of all quality characteristics. The Alpha 550 G2 is also available with ACD incision monitoring, which monitors the stripping process and detects the slightest contact between the blade and conductor strands fully automatically. And the platform is equipped with CFA/CFA+ crimp force monitoring. It ensures reliable monitoring of the crimping process and detects crimped insulation and missing strands.

Which additional options are available to adapt the Alpha 550 G2 to customer-specific production requirements?

Information and workflows can be displayed on the screen as desired by the customer via dashboard apps or customizable workflows. Various packages are available, such as the “Optimized order list” dashboard app. With this solution, jobs are automatically re-prioritized so that the current loaded material can be used for as many jobs as possible and only a minimum number of material changes are required.

The Quick Sample Delivery QSD is also interesting, enabling wire and crimp patterns to be dispensed to the operator quickly and conveniently in a small compartment. This is practical and saves time. In addition to the option of attaching a second screen or dirt cover, there is a holder for quick preparation of the crimping tool on the STC tool and terminal reel quick-change system. Last but not least, the production and status data of the entire machine fleet can be called up in real time with Komax Connect and visualized with clear graphics. This means that our customers are always informed of the productivity of their machines and can make targeted productivity optimizations. Our service team even offers online support for this.

Komax not only offers top-class solutions for wire processing, the service team also supports customers in everyday production. What support can they rely on?

The Komax Group offers more than machines, plants and software, we offer our customers holistic solution concepts that also include service and numerous supplementary services. These include tailored services, training, maintenance, OEE analysis consulting, acceptance and feasibility testing, and various service packages or contracts. With Komax Care, for example, our customers are supported throughout the entire life cycle of their machines and our specialists carry out regular maintenance on the machines. Or with the ramp-up, we support our customers in integrating new machines and inspection systems into their production processes.

⁠The Alpha 550 G2 is ready for the future. What are you and your team currently working on?

We are working hard on the development of intelligent, networked solutions for further automation of individual processes, such as wire changes, seal changes or batch size handling. But the cable and crimp setup process will also be significantly simplified and automated in the future. Reducing operator influence and shortening setup times is also at the top of our to-do list. In the future, our machines will make all settings fully automatically, make corrections if something is not running as desired, and the quality monitoring system should detect itself if the production standard is not reached.

The aim of all further automation solutions is the ability to retrofit on the new machine platform. Everything required for this, such as the software and electronics, is prepared for this on the platform. We are aiming for the next level of automated batch production and want to eliminate the critical influence of machine operators. This means that, in future, our plant will be available with fully automatic material changes for wires, crimp contacts, seals, wire removal, etc.

Find out more about the new Alpha 550 G2 here.

Chris Schnellmann

Chris Schnellmann has been working at Komax since 1998. Since 2006, he has been responsible for Alpha-Crimp fully automatic machines as a Product Manager. His motto: "Customer focus, teamwork, efficiency, and reliability."

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