VIDEO: Pre-Engineered Cells Simplify Turnkey Automation
James Anderton posted on November 28, 2017 |

Mass production is all about efficiency. Bringing in automation is one way to improve efficiency, and there are dozens of ways to approach the problem. You can buy individual automation components and hire an integrator to put it together, or you can buy a pre-engineered system, in which all the components of the cell—from the robotics to the guarding, end effectors and sensors—are delivered and installed as a plug-and-play package.

Apart from the cost difference, the trade-off comes down to customizability versus setup time. In addition, a pre-engineered solution should be a fully optimized solution for that specific task. A custom project runs the risk of reinventing the wheel, or being less than optimally efficient.

Take the driveshaft yoke welding cell featured in the above video, for example. This engineered system uses a rotating door to isolate the welding robot from all human contact. The door has a part stand mounted on both sides, so that the operator can unload and load the next part while the robot welds. This saves cycle time. The cell is specifically designed for manual loading, as automated loading would not require the safety features in place between loading and welding robots.

The cost benefit of a pre-engineered system is that all the engineering has taken place before the end customer purchases it. This spreads out the cost of the engineering over multiple systems, years and customers. Historically, individuals buy automated cells to shave a second off cycle time, but waste ten seconds per cycle on operator loading. This is one way to address that problem

With this system, the operator has only a few steps, and all the parts can be inside, outside or passed through the fencing. The entry is controlled by a light curtain, ensuring that the door cannot rotate while a human is inside the boundary.

The part stands can be positioned for ease of loading and unloading, then rotate back into welding position for the robot. The stands can also rotate on two axes during welding.

This pre-engineered cell addresses OSHA concerns. The dangerous arc, smoke and fumes are isolated from operators, and the robotics are fully guarded as well.

Industries interested in this type of cell typically include automotive suppliers that are welding parts such as brackets, flanges and shocks, as well as aerospace and appliance manufacturing.

Stay tuned for more on welding robotics solutions. 

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