Space Saving Conveyor Design

This automation system was designed to assemble automotive exterior door handles in a way that would minimize floor space requirements and lend itself to future product changes.  It is based upon an over / under edge belt conveyor with elevators on each end to move pallet fixtures from one end to the other.  At the start of the line, two operators are tasked with loading the handles, housings, spring and clips, as these components could not be automatically loaded in a cost effective manner.  Before being released to the next station, the pallets are inspected by Banner brand vision systems to confirm all parts are present. Next, a Denso SCARA robot is used to press a threaded insert into the housing.  The inserts are vibratory bowl fed and then heated via a coil in the escapement. This allows the insert to melt and embed itself into the housing.   At the next station, the pivot pin is inserted into the handle.  A vibratory bowl feeder is used to orientate the pins before they are blow-fed to the insertion tooling.  The tooling is mounted on a horizontal C-frame which can rotate 180 degrees to accommodate both left-hand and right-handed parts.  Following this station is a Denso six-axis robot equipped with quick-change grippers.  The grippers are designed to pick the coil spring off the pallet and move it to a grease station.  A “thumb” on the gripper then cocks the spring before the robot rocks the component into place on the handle housing.  At the last two stations, operators place the final components onto the handle and remove finished product from the pallets. Easy to read displays are used to communicate part presence and pass fail status to the operators.  The system is controlled by an Allen Bradley PLC which is integrated to the robot controllers, a pallet RFID controller, and a database.