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Robotic upgrade enables manufacturer to win new orders

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Autosplice Brittanic used Aylesbury Automation to automate an existing assembly process using three Denso six-axis robots, resulting in improved quality and new orders.

A complete robotic production cell has delivered such dramatic quality improvements within tight cost constraints for Autosplice Brittanic Limited that the company has been able to create new jobs, as work previously carried out overseas has been brought back to the UK.

The robot-based manufacturing system supplied by Aylesbury Automation uses the customer's own equipment and three Denso six-axis robots to link eight production processes and produce a tested component every 12 seconds.

Autosplice Brittanic produces high-quality engineering components for automotive, electronics and telecommunications industries. The company needed to automate the production of electrical connectors at its plant in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. Quality improvements within tight cost constraints were essential to enable it to compete and win orders in international markets.

Low capital cost

Aylesbury Automation created a cell based around robots supplied by AA Robotics, the division of Aylesbury Automation that is the UK and Ireland distributor for Denso Robots. A major advantage of the Aylesbury Automation concept was that its capital cost was low because it relied on Autosplice Brittanic's existing equipment, namely a rotary injection moulding machine and four punch presses. To this production process Aylesbury Automation added three new Denso Robots and Cognex/ATEQ & HAL inspection and test stations designed by its engineers.

In order to produce the high-quality electrical connector, four accurately-punched parts and two turned parts are placed in each of four injection-mould tool cavities by the Denso robots. Following the injection moulding process the moulded parts are removed from the mould tool by a robot and taken through two press-trimming operations. After the final trimming and forming operation the component is checked for moulding defects by Cognex vision equipment. The component is then placed into a specially designed test cell where a high-voltage test, vacuum test and further vision checks are completed. Components that pass all the tests are removed from the test station and placed into a basket. When full, the basket is conveyed to a washing process.

There is no PLC in the manufacturing cell; all the machine's functions are co-ordinated by the multi-tasking robot controllers using DeviceNet I/O. This brings a considerable cost saving. Ten background tasks operate to control 256 I/O points and all production statistics, system status and error messages are shown on the robot HMI.

This is Autosplice Britannic's first robot manufacturing operation. Encouraged by the low capital cost of the Aylesbury Automation cell using AA Robotics robots, the company is now exploring other processes that might benefit from robotic in terms of quality improvements and cost reductions.

Andy Tomlinson, General Manager of Autosplice Brittanic, says: "AA Robotics delivered the system on time to a very demanding time schedule. The support received has been second-to-none. It is good that we have been able to win work back to the UK and, as a result, we have bucked the trend by creating four new jobs in Ilkeston."

 

 

 
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