Global growth targets met with innovative automation system

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Airdri has two elements to the company – they design and manufacture hand dryers and also elevator door detection systems and speech units, all of which are distributed across the globe. Both divisions of the business have seen rapid expansion since the company was founded in 1983, this being achieved through a focus on sound engineering practices coupled with a competitively priced product.

Global growth targets met with innovative automation systemWhen it comes to infrared door detection systems production has grown from 250 complete systems per week to the current 4000 per week. With expansion expected to continue there was a need to improve the production throughput of the printed circuit boards, a vital component in each system.

A key area for improving output was to automate the soldering of components to printed circuit boards. This would need to be performed under controlled speed conditions to a high level of positional accuracy if damage to the components was to be avoided. The boards would need to be fed to a specific position so that three processes could be carried out: optic and then links soldering, followed by a coating process.

A DLS belt-driven unit with four carriages fitted, one driven and the others linked, performed a walking beam arrangement; the four carriages were used to locate the fixtures for the processes. Combined with three KUKA axis KR6 robots the carriages were indexed into position allowing the robot to move to pre-programmed positions and perform the necessary processes.

Derek Bell, R&D Projects Engineer says: “The robots are quite amazing and extremely accurate. We are undergoing trials for 6 months to also try the machine with other products, before installing in our manufacturing plant.

“I’ve been in engineering 50 years and it’s not a quick process to design new machines. HepcoAutomation have been very helpful and inventive in coming up with a really good solution. This is not the only system I’ve bought from HepcoAutomation and it’s always of excellent quality, reliable and definitely suits our needs.”

This highly productive automation system, designed and built in the UK, has enabled AirDri to revolutionise the way they produce printed circuit boards. The facility provides a totally new opportunity to develop the soldering and assembly process producing 200,000+ individual elevator receiver / sensors packs per year. The principles applied to the soldering process can now also be applied to the manufacture and assembly of other components within the AirDri range.

The low-maintenance aspect, and the use of only quality automation components, is seen as a vital ingredient in ensuring that demanding production throughputs can be met with consistent high quality.

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