Enhancing Efficiency: Identifying The Right Jobs For Automation In Tube Bending Operations

Tube bending operations seek precision and accuracy at multifarious phases, from dimension sketching to creating intricate bends in narrow tubes. Such a level of high accuracy can be achieved through meticulous planning and integration of automated tasks. Indeed, automation has proven to be a game changer in the manufacturing and fabrication industry, empowering businesses with higher capabilities to produce error-free results in less time. Apart from this, it has also reduced dependency on human resources, eliminated damage risks, and enhanced the overall productivity and deliverables.

However, to harness the true potential of automation in tube bending operations, knowing the areas most suitable for its integration is crucial. In other words, professionals should have a clear picture about the tasks involved with the concerned operation that can be automated to achieve the desired level of productivity, precision, and accuracy. Having said that, we have highlighted the major tasks that can be automated in tube bending operations to enhance efficiency and the deliverables.

Repetitive tasks performed in huge volumes

Tube bending involves several types of repetitive tasks that need to be performed in huge volume. For instance, when an automotive company hires a bent tube manufacturer, the contract often involves the delivery of over a thousand exhaust tubes having intricate bends of the same type. This puts a lot of pressure on the manufacturer since they need to deliver the bent tubes in the said quantity and that too within the fixed delivery window mentioned in the contract.

Under such cases, performing the repetitive task of bending tubes in the similar pattern and following same geometrical dimensions introduce room for errors. Furthermore, it also needs a lot of time and effort to produce bent tubes in enough quantity that after quality inspection, the resultant volume equates that of the client requirements. Here, automating the repetitive tasks will help save both time and effort simultaneously. Furthermore, the manufacturer won’t have to employ too many human resources and invest money in managing everything. The productivity will be enhanced with minimal rooms for errors. 

Following are some examples of repetitive tasks in tube bending process that can be automated: 

  • Metal part manufacturing with consistent bent structures
  • Automobile exhaust pipe manufacturing with similar structure and geometry
  • Guardrail designing with similar bend patterns

Complex geometrics that need high precision

Several tube bending projects involve intricate bends with a much higher level of complexity and precision that cannot be achieved with manual operations. Not only is it difficult to manually calculate the geometrics for achieving the desired shape but it is also impossible to maintain the intricacy in bend patterns, especially while handling delicate tubes. This is where automation can be integrated to reduce the chances of errors and tackle the job’s complexity. 

Most automated tube bending machines are equipped with robotic arms that perform the bend operations accurately, ensuring the input measurements are retained in the final product. Furthermore, they operate on advanced CAD/CAM software, which makes designing complicated and intricate bends easier and hassle-free. For instance:

  • Bent tubes to be used in aerospace designing, like rockets, propellers, satellites, and more and need unique geometrical and design configurations.
  • Medical instruments like forceps, tweezers, and others, which need detailing and intricacy in the bends.
  • Decorative architectural components like lamp shades, door handles, furniture bases, and so on. Guardrail designing with similar bend patterns

Higher productivity demand

One of the major areas where tube manufacturers often struggle is the ones involving round-the-clock operations and higher productivity. In such cases, not only the number of units need to be produced through tube bending operations is exceptionally high but also each designs involve more complicated number of bend patterns.  

Automating such tasks will result in higher productivity and performance, allowing manufacturers to maintain the quality at the optimal level. It will also reduce human fatigue, bottlenecks in the production phase of the bent tubes, and downtime due to lack of efficiency. Some of the examples where automation can serve as a boon for tube bending operations requiring high productivity are:  

  • Manufacturing of bent tubes to be used in HVAC systems, including the ducts
  • Mass production of tubular frameworks to be used in large-scale manufacturing of bicycles
  • Manufacturing of hydraulic tubes to be used in different types of heavy machinery 

Material handling and feeding

Handling large-sized tubes and feeding them to the bending machines are labor-intensive and time-consuming tasks. Most manufacturers need to employ numerous labors to complete the loading and unloading cycles of the raw materials and the finished goods respectively. It not only leads to human fatigue but also causes bottlenecks in the production phase. Furthermore, the chances of material damage due to scraping, surface friction, and mechanical impacts are quite high.   

To mitigate these problems, tube manufacturers can automate the material handling and feeding operations. Automated feeders are equipped with tough robotic arms that can easily load and unload the tubes to the bending machine, thereby reducing labor dependency and enhancing productivity and efficiency. It also reduces the chances of material damage as the robotic feeder arms operate in a designated route, where the motion is controlled through an advanced CAD/CAM software. Following are some of the task examples where automating material handling and feeding can be feasible.  

  • Mass production of heavyweight components for the electronics industry
  • Conveyor belts and system manufacturing having consistent bend patterns 

Quality Inspection & Control  

Lastly, automation can be integrated in the quality inspection and control phase of tube bending operations. Automated routines once fed to inspection sensors and equipment units can easily detect the faults, discrepancies, and quality issues with maximum accuracy and precision. Furthermore, the time consumed in completing the inspection task is reduced substantially, allowing manufacturers to enhance the productivity and efficiency factors.    

Automating the tasks involved with quality control and inspection of bent tubes is imminent in the following cases:  

  • Inspecting the quality of oil and gas pipes where reliability and accuracy are the major considering factors
  • Quality inspection of aerospace tubes having strict industry standards
  • Conveyor belts and system manufacturing having consistent bend patterns 


Automation can play a significant role in the tube bending operations by enhancing productivity, efficiency, accuracy, and speed. However, manufacturers should determine the areas where automated routines can be implemented for streamlining the process, reducing human fatigue, and eliminating production bottlenecks. That’s why consulting with an automation expert from the concerned field will be beneficial for the manufacturers.

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