Intelligent automation systems from Roboworker help speed up PM production process
September 14, 2016
Roboworker Automation GmbH, based in Weingarten, Germany, has introduced a range of intelligent automation systems aimed at improving workflow as well as increasing quality and efficiency in the Powder Metallurgy production process. The company offers a modular design of automation systems that provide the flexibility to be adapted to individual customer requirements.
Roboworker’s pick and place devices combine speed, precision and reliability due to the use of high performance linear robots. Linear robots guarantee top productivity and accuracy, with precision being boosted further with direct measurement systems. This is the basis for gentle gripping and an attractive solution for placing products in trays with ridges, protrusions or other structures. Freely programmable placement patterns designed for high densities ensure optimum furnace loading.
Variable gripper systems contribute significantly to gentle component handling. Driven by motors, they allow flexible programming of the rotational, turning or tilting motions. Depending on the component, suction cups, balloons or gripper jaws are used for optimal handling.
Tray handling systems are available for the smallest right up to large batch sizes. Customers can choose between single belt systems or magazine and stacking solutions with a large tray store for high autonomy times and cost-saving potentials in plant operation.
Also crucial is component quality control and documentation of the inspection results to ensure traceability in the production process, especially for the automotive industry. A wide range of inline functions can be integrated in picking systems, such as part brushing, weighing, laser marking, optical geometry measurement and tactile height measurement.
Roboworker states that a brush and blow-off system integrated in the automation system, for example, removes the very last burrs or metal dust from the blank and helps improve its quality. Further, to support a fast handling process, up to two precision scales can be integrated allowing one part to be weighed while a second scale is loaded. Depending on the ambient conditions, precision levels of +/- 5mg or better can be achieved in the process.
Laser marking is claimed to be an ideal way of ensuring traceability of the pressed parts and is another function that can be integrated in the company’s automation systems. This integration dispenses with the need for a separate, time-consuming labelling process.
For optical geometry measurement of blanks, the user can flexibly define and save the relevant dimensions. The dimensions are simultaneously and automatically aligned. It is possible to define inner and outer circumferences, lengths and widths, angles, radii and shapes. During height measurement, various sensors determine the component height. An accuracy in the process of as close as 0.01 mm is possible.
Components that do not match the specified tolerance are immediately identified and sorted out by corresponding devices, with feedback to the press triggering automatic correction. This interaction of press and automation system with programmable and saved movement sequences and process data is claimed to boost process stability.
Despite the many functions available for integration, in an environment where time is money, automation systems must be easy and fast to program and operate. “All this makes it clear that today automation goes much further than just palleting and stacking operations. Not only the devices themselves, but also numerous additional functions contribute decisively to quality assurance of precision parts, increase process reliability and deliver documentation for traceability of parts,” stated Roboworker. “Ultimately, these quality benefits also optimise costs in a number of PM manufacturing processes.”