„Bihler Technology as the company standard“
RPK: Developping and manufacturing new components efficiently
Based in the Basque region of Spain, RPK S. Coop. has for years put its faith in Bihler – in the shape of the bNX tool design software and GRM 80P and RM 40P stamping and bending machines. As a result, Bihler technology has become established as RPK’s company standard, in particular allowing them to develop and manufacture new components efficiently.
The globally active RPK Group has been headquartered in VitoriaGasteiz, the capital of the Basque Autonomous Community in Spain, since 1974. The company is Spain’s market leader for springs used in carmaking and in the electrical and medical engineering industries. Another mainstay of the company is the manufacture of complex stamped and bended parts such as spring elements and securing elements used in the automotive industry. In this context, the development of new parts and the optimization of existing components plays an important role at RPK alongside the manufacture of established products. All this is realized at the RPK technology center, where the specialist development knowledge from the various plants is brought together and used to implement new product innovation for the company’s tier-1 and tier-2 customers.
Uniform tool standard
Toolmaking is, of course, a key aspect in the manufacture of current and future parts. “We need special tools that allow us to ensure an extremely high level of precision and a long service life, especially for medium and large production runs, and particularly for components with large dimensions,” explains Iker Ibisate, Head of Stamping and Bending Technology, Strip Material. In 2012, in order to implement a new, uniform tool standard for the various different machines used in the company, RPK opted for Bihler – specifically for the bNX software module “Kinematics Express”. This is a solution that is independent of the CAD system and is used for the virtual design of motion sequences for cam-driven and servo-controlled machines. Josep Ferre, Factory Manager at the Tarragona plant: “This allowed us to significantly boost efficiency in our toolmaking operations and benefit from far shorter development times.”
Collaboration from the very start
Since that time, more than 30 tools have been made at RPK using the bNX software module. These also run on the Bihler GRM 80P stamping and forming machine that arrived at RPK in July 2016. This machine makes it possible to manufacture entirely new, small and medium-sized parts that would not have been possible on the existing machines. The extremely fast, ultra-precise manufacturing offered by the GRM 80P delivers the efficiency needed to be able to manufacture the new parts competitively. But the new machine also fits in perfectly with the paradigm shift that is currently underway in the company. Iker Ibisate: “Our aim is to be able to start close collaboration with our customers far earlier – as early as the component development phase. Bihler is often the standard used by our customers, and with the GRM 80P, we have also introduced the Bihler standard for ourselves.”
Quicker to market
This also includes installation of the complete bNX software package, which was done in 2017. The libraries and kinematics values included in the software solution permit comprehensive simulation of the tools and also allow optimization of the design process towards a uniform standard for all the tools used on a machine. It is possible to integrate all of RPK’s own skills and developments in the bNX solution, so toolmaking has become a far easier and more efficient operation than it was before: “The complete bNX software package allowed us to reduce our time-to-market by some 35 percent. At the same time, it was possible to reduce the design time in our tool design department by around 50 percent,” explains Iker Ibisate. The RPK Group remains dedicated to introducing Bihler technology as the global standard within the Group. Josep Ferre: “In future, we shall also be starting to use Bihler NC technology.” This will start with a new RM 40P “hybrid”, which will be delivered to RPK at the end of 2018 and is already fitted with two servo units.
The globally active RPK Group has been headquartered in VitoriaGasteiz, the capital of the Basque Autonomous Community in Spain, since 1974. The company is Spain’s market leader for springs used in carmaking and in the electrical and medical engineering industries. Another mainstay of the company is the manufacture of complex stamped and bended parts such as spring elements and securing elements used in the automotive industry.