Intelligent feeding solutions / Satisfying the requirements for modern assembly systems

The year 1908 was one of the most historically significant years both for personal motorised transport and for industrial assembly. With the Model T, the Ford Motor Company launched an automobile on the market which could be manufactured for the first time in large numbers at an affordable price. This not only heralded the age of private transport for the masses, but this first assembly line also gave the green light to industrial series production in the automotive industry. Due to advancing rationalisation measures, amongst other things in the form of a comprehensive division of labour, production rose to the point where it was efficient enough to produce up to 9000 vehicles a day.

Since then, despite an enormous increase in output, the basic principle of manual assembly work has essentially remained the same. Product assembly has been revolutionarily influenced by an increase in automation and digitalisation. Today, fully automatic systems can be remotely operated thanks to intelligent, Industry 4.0 capable hardware and software components and are interconnected with correlating systems, linked by feeding technology. An assembly system component can be fed and positioned, whilst at the same time fasteners such as screws or nuts are sorted, correctly positioned, separated and fed directly into the screwdriving tool – and all in the blink of an eye. However, changes in relevance to current or future influencing factors or constantly developing requirements still relentlessly force the industry to come up with new enhancements.

One of the most relevant of these factors is the advancement of miniaturisation. Today, modern processors of just a few square millimetres are equipped with many billions of transistors. Most dirt particles appear huge in comparison to such small structures on the nanometer scale, and depending on the application, can pose a significant risk. For example, even the smallest conductive particles can cause a short circuit in electronic components. Material particles from carbon fibre reinforced plastics are conductive so the use of these new and more efficient materials actually heightens this risk. Therefore, the increased relevance of technical cleanliness goes hand in hand with miniaturisation.

DEPRAG SCHULZ GmbH from Amberg, Germany, is one of the global market leaders in the field of automated screwdriving and feeding technology. Their recipe for long-term success is the continued drive for evolution and innovation, combined with the development of intelligent and efficient system solutions. With this in mind, DEPRAG Schulz GmbH developed their complete CleanFeed concept with specific CleanFeed components to meet the requirements for technical cleanliness in feeding. It includes elements for low abrasion part feeding to minimise the generation of damaging particles from the outset. Low abrasion sword feeders are particularly gentle at sorting, separating and suppling fasteners. Sensors on the device automatically determine the number of strokes necessary so that stroke movement and therefore abrasion is kept to a minimum. Furthermore, hoppers help to keep a consistently low quantity of fasteners in the feeding system because fewer screws mean less contamination. However, because the generation of particles cannot be entirely eliminated, suction systems are also an effective method of creating cleanroom conditions. The DEPRAG “Particle Killer” targets and removes dirt particles before assembly and ejects them through a filter. The DEPRAG SFM-V vacuum screwdriving module on the other hand, uses suction to remove residual dirt directly from the screwdriving tool via additional vacuum sources. As well as modifications to the hardware, particle contamination is also combatted by intelligent adjustments managed by the controller, such as a reduction in speed during bit engagement with the screw head, at the same time averting wear and tear on the tool.

Efficiency has always been a vital aspect for the entire supply chain in economical assembly systems. The DEPRAG vibratory spiral feeder eacy feed provides a particularly effective drive concept. Both the controller and drive of this efficient feeder are based on a power supply of 24 V/DC. Using oscillating magnets in the feed bowl, this is sufficient to trigger periodic oscillating motions and attain an energy saving of around 80%. The use of a universal power supply unit allows worldwide application of the device without modifications. Furthermore, the intelligent PFC100 controller allows for customised settings without time-consuming mechanical intervention. If assembly should be automated to the highest degree possible, but quantities do not justify a fully automatic feeding system, then a screw presenter offers an inexpensive, compact and quickly implemented solution. Screw presenters can be modified for different screw sizes with just a few steps, they are gentle on components, can be utilised in handheld or stationary applications and are fully self-sufficient thanks to their integrated controller.

Today, the global market situation is more dynamic than ever. New products reach the market quicker and the capacitive future of products is not always predictable. A lack of empirical data and uncertainties are the norm in quantity planning for the E-mobility sector. These circumstances require the most flexible solutions possible with short reaction times as is the case in hybrid assembly systems with a combination of manual and automated processes. In this way production can be expanded as necessary through the implementation of intelligent manual work stations without sacrificing processing reliability. The operator is taken step by step through the assembly task. Sensor technology activates the correct parameters for each screw position, releases fasteners, notifies the operator of subsequent tasks and evaluates results. The Pick-and-Place procedure guides the operator by picking up the correct fasteners and precisely directing them to the correct screw position. Assembly remains both flexible and reliable. One of the greatest challenges for hybrid assembly systems is the pairing of man and machine who do not always work at the same tempo. The solution is creating buffer zones, using intelligent linear conveyors. This enables larger distances to be bridged as well as controlling part flow. Depending on requirements, the conveyors provide part buffers or separate the part flow. Another measure in attaining highest flexibility is the use of modular system concepts with standardised components. DEPRAG has a comprehensive module portfolio including sensor-controlled screwdrivers, feeding systems, controllers etc., all from a single source. These individual modules are already coordinated with each other, thereby saving time and effort in integration. The high flexibility means that assembly systems can be quickly adapted to the current market situation; counteracting planning uncertainties and quickly reacting to changing requirements.

Henry Ford’s own intelligent and efficient ideas shaped his production so that it was as economical as possible. For ten years, his company produced only black body parts and obligated suppliers to deliver precisely dimensioned wooden shipping containers whose boards were then taken apart to be used in vehicle construction. Such measures may be unthinkable today, however the objective of realising efficient, intelligent system solutions still holds true. Assembly systems are complex, perfectly coordinated interdependent systems comprising of numerous components. A system malfunction in feeding technology can cause a delay to larger parts in the supply chain and thereby create far-reaching financial and organisational consequences. With their widely diversified component portfolio designed to satisfy any requirement, DEPRAG Schulz GmbH provides flexible and reliable options for the realisation of highly profitable assembly systems.

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ProMinent at ACHEMA 2018: Controller AEGIS II

ProMinent is presenting its new controller Aegis II for cooling and boiler water treatment between 11 and 15 June 2018 on Stand J94 in hall 8 at ACHEMA in Frankfurt, Germany. The device regulates the bleeding and the metering of corrosion inhibitors and biocides.

It reliably prevents corrosion, deposits and biological growth in evaporator cooling water circuits, and thus maintains the cleanliness of pipework and heat exchangers.

With the new controller, all the measurement parameters required can be entered and the functions needed for trouble-free operation can be controlled. The controller Aegis II continuously measures and controls the electrolytic conductivity for blowdown control and determines whether enough corrosion inhibitor has been metered. Simultaneously it also measures and controls the pH and the concentration of the biocides (e.g. chlorine).

The device guarantees an efficient cooling circuit: The automatic bleeding, and the precise addition of biocides and corrosion inhibitors ensure a constantly high level of efficiency in the cooling circuit heat exchanger.

The new Aegis II Cooling Tower Controller works with conventional Prominent pH, ORP and amperometric sensors for chlorine, bromine, PAA as well as with conventional analog and digital sensors and actuators. The built-in web server over LAN or optional WiFi can be used to configure the controller or doing remote maintenance.

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E-Mobility picks up speed

Electro mobility is the definitive key technology for the sustainable transport system of the future. The policy-assisted development of E-mobility is moving in the right direction. The automotive industry and its suppliers, however still find themselves in a dilemma regarding the design and project planning of their production and assembly systems. Uncertainties in planning for volume and unknown practical values continue to be the greatest challenges.

“This cutting-edge sector faces a conflict regarding the planning of assembly systems. The chosen technology must be able to flexibly adapt to increased capacities resulting from rising volume, reaching all the way up to fully automated systems. However, today’s assembly of smaller quantities must also ensure top processing reliability, because – as always in vehicle manufacture – errors in assembly are a real danger to life and limb”, explains Jürgen Hierold, Sales Manager at the machine builder DEPRAG SCHULZ GMBH u. CO. from Amberg, Germany.

E-mobility imposes certain requirements on the assembly process: top processing reliability for safety-related components, high flexibility due to the wide variety and targeted reliable electro-static discharge (ESD capability) of system components utilised. In addition, these components require an assembly environment which fulfils the guidelines of technical cleanliness and also scores highly on ergonomic aspects. The customer may face difficulties in coming up with an economical solution to this complexity.

“That, which for the customer may seem difficult to solve, can be realised cost-effectively with our in-house standard components and solutions. Our components are already all coordinated and compatible with one another. Integration runs smoothly and there are no time delays, in contrast to situations where the customer needs to align and adjust components from varied manufacturers” explains Jürgen Hierold. All components, such as sensor-controlled screwdrivers, feeding systems, position control portals or stands, electronic control and evaluation systems, tool change supervision, pick & place units, etc. can be selected from the company’s standard programme.

The automation specialists at DEPRAG offer flexible assembly solutions for all grades, which can all be adapted to the current market situation: from components and manual work stations, up to semi or fully-automatic assembly systems. This flexibility specifically counteracts planning uncertainties and is continually responsive to modification demands.

One such guarantee of success is the “intelligent manual work station”. It can be flexibly adjusted to any economic situation and is particularly beneficial if automatization appears uneconomical. This is particularly relevant for E-mobility where production rate trends are difficult to predict. For the assembly of E-mobility components, it is preferable to opt for a flexible, upgradeable assembly line with intelligent manual work stations which combine manual handling with top processing reliability.

Screw assemblies of vehicle manufacture elements are principally category A screw joints in accordance with VDI standard 2862. Processing reliability is the top priority and all processing steps must be documented and monitored. This is true for fully automatic systems as well as manual work stations which are equipped with position control portals made from high quality steel profiles. These precisely control the screwdriving procedure and ensure the reliable vertical guidance of the EC-servo screwdriver. The operator is guided step by step through the screwdriving task: The sensor technology activates the appropriate screwdriving parameters for each screw position, releases the fasteners, indicates the required bit change for the screw position, monitors the screw assembly and evaluates the screwdriving results. The portal can be adjusted to be used in a seated or standing work station using the height-adjustable work surface.

Sword feeders are used for the feeding of varied fasteners. Jürgen Hierold: “For this sector, we use feeding technology which fulfils the requirements of technical cleanliness. In contrast to vibratory spiral feeders, only low friction is generated during the transport of fasteners. In addition, at the points where friction can occur, vacuum fittings are connected. Damaging dirt particles are largely eliminated through suction.”

DEPRAG is known for their user-friendly and self-explanatory control and measurement technology, which controls and documents the assembly processes. The tried and tested software “recognises” the different screw sizes and types, the preset parameters and the tightening procedures to be used, as well as the tightening tool required for each position. The screw assembly sequence is set out in detail. Whether torque or angle tightening procedures, friction value procedures, clamp force control or special tightening procedures, the operator uses the clear and coherent touch screen to precisely record whether the screwdriving task has been carried out successfully.

It is not only the control and measurement technology which guarantees excellent interaction between man and machine (HMI). The MINIMAT®-EC servo screwdriver with proven sensor-controlled screwdriving technology even gives the operator the option of push-to-start or button start. The screwdriver is extremely smooth due to the bearing on the position control portal and the reduction of mass. Operator fatigue is reduced to a minimum. The ergonomic screwdriver handle is also instrumental. Furthermore, optimal visualisation of the screwdriving task also contributes to successful operator guidance of the complete system.

As well as standardised manual work stations, DEPRAG also supplies automated, extremely flexible assembly cells of their DCAM product family (DEPRAG COMPACT ASSEMBLY MODULE). Equipped with one of the modern DEPRAG screwdriving function modules, and appointed with high quality industrial spindle screwdrivers and combined with a screw feeder, you can depend on the DCAM to complete any screwdriving task. “The modular assembly cell is particularly suitable for fluctuating production rates, diverse product ranges and short product life cycles. As a system solution, the DCAM combines efficiency with the best possible processing reliability. The modular, flexible platform concept, in combination with the freely programmable X-Y axes, justifies the implementation of this assembly cell for the most varied of assembly tasks”, says Hierold.

DEPRAG has another notable screwdriving system in their program, specially designed for bodywork construction screw joints (Body in White): the adaptive DEPRAG Fastening System. The selection of the correct fastening technology for lightweight construction is of utmost importance and consequently flow hole screw assemblies are the established technology for bodywork construction in the automobile industry. The adaptive assembly unit ADAPTIVE DFS combines EC-servo screwdriving technology with EC-servo feed technology. This enables automatic piercing detection throughout the flow hole assembly, independent from screw and component tolerances. The processing parameters are automatically adjusted and the procedure is continually optimised. A robot can also easily be connected to the screwdriving system.

Finally, all customer specifications for E-mobility are fully satisfied by DEPRAG standard components: processing reliability, flexibility, ESD-capability, technical cleanliness, ergonomics and economic efficiency. The machine builder is presenting their product developments from 19th to 22nd June at the AUTOMATICA in Munich: hall A6, exhibition stand 312.

 

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