The success of Automated Assembly in Mass Production hinges on the effective performance of automated high speed part positioners. One such parts presenter is the conventional Vibratory Bowl Feeder (VBF). There is a need to extend this success of assembly automation in Mass Production into Batch Production. However, the lack of flexible part positioners to facilitate the handling of different batches of components is a major obstacle in this. A need for a flexible production feeder in batch production processes is therefore clear. This project attempts to make progress in the development of a flexible VBF, the main problems being the inflexible nature of the orientation tools as currently employed. The project tackles the design, development and manufacture of a range of automated programmable orientation tools which, in combination, make up a typical orientation system for the VBF. Three prototype tools were developed: the Wiper Blade, Narrow Ledge and the Edge Riser Tools. These tools were focused for the purpose of the project on the feeding of a specific target component. Seven further orientation tools were designed with the intention of future development and implementation/inclusion into the feeding research process at a later stage. As well as the tool automation programming, a programme was developed to drive the system automatically through a sequence of settings, whilst logging the data related to each. An algorithm was developed to establish the performance at each setting and establish the overall optimum. A design of experiment approach could be incorporated at a later stage to establish combined optimum settings (optimum taking into account the interdependencies). For the purpose of developing and demonstrating a prototype flexible VBF in the time scale available, the optimisation of each variable independently of the others only, was tackled in this project. The outcome of this research was a prototype of a system of modular, programmable, interchangeable and self-optimisation orientation tools for the development of a fully flexible VBF system.
|Publication status||Submitted - 2010|