Concept to Completion

A real-world example of a completed project.

The Problem

We were asked to design and build a machine to help with the assembly of an automotive fuel system part. There are ten component parts which go make up the finished assembly. There are several permutations of these components resulting in over thirty variants of the finished assembly.

It is imperative that, when assembling a particular variant, only component parts pertaining to that variant are used.

There are further complications: the machine must not exceed a twenty five second cycle time, it must work for twenty four hours a day, it must be delivered in twelve to fourteen weeks from date of order and the project has a fixed budget.

The Solution

The operator loads the components for a particular variant onto two separate tooling nests within the machine and the guard door closes.

The machine reads an RF identification tag mounted on the main body and checks the ‘recipe’ for the appropriate assembly variant.

Using a system of conventional and laser sensors, components are checked against the recipe.

A third set of tooling within the machine indexes and clamps the main body, at the same time checking for ‘spring clip and washer’ i.e. not ‘washer and spring clip’, ‘washer and washer’ and so on.

If everything is confirmed as satisfactory, the guard door reopens and the operator is alerted to continue with the next phase of the build.

The guard closes again and a fourth set of tooling compresses the main spring of the component to 150 Kgs and locks it into position.

The guard opens to allow the operator to attach a final ‘C’ clip.

The machine verifies this clip was installed correctly before finally presenting the finished assembly for removal.

Conclusion

The machine proved satisfactory and was delivered on time and to budget.

Reaction from the customer’s Principal Engineer:
“one of the most reliable machines on
our shop floor”.

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Delivering solutions to engineering problems

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