Spigots cost effectively!

Posted on 1 Apr 2014 by Tim Brown

When it needed to automate the assembly of a moulded plastic spigot, a leading Automotive parts manufacturer asked industrial automation expert ALPHR Technology to devise a solution that would be cost effective, compact, reliable and easy to maintain.

An automation solution based on the Omron SCARA robot
An automation solution based on the Omron SCARA robot.

A specialist in production of precision injection-moulded automotive parts, the customer had been supplying a leading automobile manufacturer for many years. In the past, assembly had been a manual process, but an increase in demand meant the need for an additional production line, so the company investigated the possibility of automated assembly.

After detailed discussions, ALPHR Technology proposed a machine with a PLC-controlled rotary assembly station, which would produce a part every 20 seconds with just one operator required to load the parts into the machine. All other operations would be automated, including inspection, test and delivery of the finished parts to pass and fail bins.

ALPHR Technology concluded that using conventional multi-axis pick-and-place technology would be complicated to design, inflexible and difficult to maintain. A solution based on an Omron SCARA robot would, however, solve these problems and give the machine the smallest possible footprint as well as being significantly more financially attractive.

However, the customer had no previous experience of SCARA robots. So before committing to investment in the new machine, the company looked for assurance that it would perform as predicted. Application engineers from Omron provided this assurance by using sophisticated software to emulate the operation of the proposed assembly machine.

This not only confirmed the principle of operation of the machine was sound, but also that the required cycle times and efficiencies could be easily achieved. With its concerns dispelled, the customer gave the go ahead for the project. As built, the machine works on a part that is manually loaded into one of the “nests” in the machine’s rotary table.

A pneumatic cylinder pushes the part fully home and then the table indexes. Next, the robot takes the compression limiters, one at a time, from vibratory feeders and places them into the part. Two Omron FQ vision sensors confirm that the limiters are correctly positioned. Then the limiters are which is followed by a force push out test.

The table then brings the part to the final station where it is leak tested. Depending on the results, the part is either transferred to the pass or fail bin. “Understandably, as this was the company’s first machine with a SCARA robot, they kept a close eye on this project,” said Paul Bridgwater of ALPHR Technology, “so I’m delighted to say that it went very smoothly.

Programming the robot was straightforward and it worked ‘straight out of the box’ as did the vision system, and all of the other key automation components supplied by Omron.”