Top four benefits of automated tube bending

  • Articles
  • Jan 12,23
The process of bending metal tubes is historically a labour-intensive one fraught with potential errors and safety issues. Automating this task could offer many benefits, says Emily Newton.
Top four benefits of automated tube bending

The market for metal pipes and tubes is expected to reach $14.5 billion in the US alone by 2023, according to IBISWorld. That research shows the period from 2018 to 2023 declined slightly in demand, but 2023 should return the industry to more than 1 per cent growth per year.

Metal tubes are an essential part of the global economy. They’re instrumental in fabricating everything from cars and trucks to bridge components, airplanes and musical instruments. Bending metal tubes is one way to increase their usefulness and tailor them to specific applications.

The bending process is historically a labour-intensive one fraught with potential errors and safety issues. Automating this task could deliver considerable added value, money saved, more consistent results and a more efficient machine shop or manufacturing plant. Here are several benefits of automated tube bending worth knowing.

1. Readies organisations for emerging markets
There are several sources of ongoing pressure throughout the automotive industry. One is the call to drive costs down however possible — another concerns the unique manufacturing requirements of electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles and similar next-generation engineering designs. Electrification is a major step toward a smart, resilient power grid and cleaner commutes for employees and freight.

The process of manufacturing electric vehicles simultaneously exemplifies several of these challenges. EVs require fast processing for challenging or unconventionally shaped raw materials. For example, many need tubes bent into shapes other than circles. The lightweight materials necessary to preserve the vehicles’ range can be more challenging to work with than conventional materials and fabrication techniques.

Automated tube bending makes manufacturing these elements easier, faster and more error-free to achieve even while overall EV manufacturing ramps up to meet quickly ballooning demand. The race to get affordable, lightweight, long-range EVs to market is heating up. Manufacturers specialising in high-speed, high-accuracy automated tube bending will position themselves as an ally to this emerging market.

2. Makes existing processes more efficient
The best way to understand the practical benefits of adopting automated tube bending equipment is through a before-and-after comparison. One example saw Kawasaki bringing online tube-bending robots to increase efficiency and productivity with compelling results. The robot — called Bender Bot 1 — added considerable value to the process of manufacturing frames for ATVs and other four-wheeled vehicles.

  • Machine attendants had to lift heavy tubes twice to bend them.
  • The processes required unergonomic and potentially unsafe motions and placements.
  • Efficiency and productivity were adequate but needed improvement.

  • Only one lift is required after robotic process automation.
  • Human workers are free to pursue higher-value or more creative work.
  • Kawasaki saw throughput rise to 700 tubes per hour by automating 33% of its bending-related processes.

Each of these improvements adds up to an industrial manufacturing process that’s faster and more accurate. At Lockheed Martin, turning to assembly-line automation for producing the F-35 Lightning II brought a 34-hour decrease in the time required to manufacture key fuselage components. Automation removes human inefficiency and redirects that talent toward more rewarding, less rote pursuits.

3. Makes machine shops safer and more transparent
Automated tube bending tools are like other advanced machining equipment. They provide accurate and repeatable results every time with a substantially reduced need for human attendants or active intervention.

Working with heavy metal components isn’t the safest line of work, but automation can take vulnerable flesh and bones out of the fray. One advanced machine control system sees equipment functioning without manual adjustments for 60–80 hours at a time.

Maintaining safety is just one moral obligation in manufacturing plants and machine shops — transparency and process ownership are others. Consider the process of chamfering metal pipes. With advanced automation and machine vision, sensors embedded in the equipment can carry out automatic 360° inspections of each task as it completes. This yields lots of valuable information, including:
  • The condition of the workpiece before work begins.
  • Whether and when workers carried out specific tasks.
  • Which machine or production line was responsible for the work.
  • How long the process took and the level of accuracy achieved.

Verifying that work has been done reduces lost time, the need for rework and the likelihood of compounded errors. Some high-stakes industries — like aerospace, automotive and health care manufacturing — even require or strongly encourage verifications at multiple stages of fabrication. Automation will make this part of the job painless to carry out, verify and document.

4. Expands the possibilities of mass customisation
Production flexibility is one of the most valuable qualities an industrial manufacturer can possess today. For a start, the pressures of the pandemic caused many businesses to prioritize different products or business models as demand for their products and others changed dramatically in real-time. People probably haven’t seen the last of distilleries pivoting to making hand sanitizer in a pinch.

This kind of adaptability isn’t just a requirement during a public health crisis. Adjusting production lines quickly is also vital for achieving mass customization — a key feature of Industry 4.0.

Electrified and automated bending and other industrial equipment can reprogram and adapt faster than conventional machines. With these tools, variables like mandrel position and the pressure and position of the dies don’t require manual intervention to fine-tune during changeovers. The resulting ability to create customized products or parts at scale and the nimbleness to switch to fabricating something else quickly without fully resetting or building an entirely new production line will boost competitiveness and earning potential.

Automated tube bending: Safety, productivity and efficiency enhanced
Manufacturers must recognise the benefits of automation across industries and disciplines. The most successful automation transitions begin with a specific challenge to solve, so look over operations to find places where safety, productivity and efficiency may be flagging. Automating those processes could unlock competitive and innovation potential leaders didn’t know their organisation had.

About the author:
Emily Newton is a tech and industrial journalist and the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. Subscribe to the Revolutionized newsletter for more content from Emily.

Related Stories

Auto & Auto Components
IFC to invest Rs 600 cr in M&M’s new electric three-wheelers company

IFC to invest Rs 600 cr in M&M’s new electric three-wheelers company

Funding to help electrify the country’s last mile mobility and boost penetration of electric three-wheelers, supporting India’s climate goals

Read more
Material Handling Equipment
Germany’s Jungheinrich opens new integrated facility in India

Germany’s Jungheinrich opens new integrated facility in India

The facility in Bhiwandi (Maharashtra) comprises equipment & spare parts warehouse, workshop & training center for its all-electric forklifts trucks and warehouse equipment.

Read more
Automation & Robotics
Critical Manufacturing displays advanced MES system at Hannover Messe

Critical Manufacturing displays advanced MES system at Hannover Messe

Portugal headquartered, Critical Manufacturing, at Hannover Messe will highlight to visitors how its MES empowers manufacturers with advanced capabilities to drive innovation, increase connectivity,..

Read more

Related Products

High Level Palletizing


Alligator Automations offers a wide range of high level palletizing

Read more

Request a Quote

Laboratory Automation


Schunk Intec India Pvt Ltd offers a wide range of laboratory automation – efficient and reliable laboratory processes.

Read more

Request a Quote

Bagging System - Manual


Alligator Automations provides a wide range of manual bagging systems Read more

Request a Quote

Hi There!

Now get regular updates from IPF Magazine on WhatsApp!

Click on link below, message us with a simple hi, and SAVE our number

You will have subscribed to our Industrial News on Whatsapp! Enjoy

+91 84228 74016

Reach out to us

Call us at +91 8108603000 or

Schedule a Call Back