A major automotive supplier needed an automated machine that could assemble a shock absorber valve assembly by stacking pre-described sets of washers of varying sizes repeatedly, accurately and rapidly. It needed to be able to adapt to different recipes — virtually limitless combinations — of washer stacks. These washer stacks are a part of a valve assembly that attaches to shock absorbers in various automobiles, with each washer stack recipe customized to the specifications of the shock absorber and the type, model and size of the vehicle.
The automotive supplier came to Ahaus Tool and Engineering, a leading provider of automation solutions for manufacturing. The supplier provided Ahaus with the machine’s requirements, as well as examples of its existing mechanical washer assembly devices. Ahaus’ job was simple enough: to create a machine that could quickly and accurately stack numerous recipes of various sizes of washers.
Ahaus’ engineering manager, Nate Pfeiffer, and his team of mechanical and electrical engineers designed an innovative robot-integrated automated system utilizing two SCARA robots and a six-axis robot to meet the demanding cycle time needs. Change-out washer banks were utilized to meet quick exchange needs between washer stack recipes. A human operator would be able to put several washers of each size in the predetermined banks, tell the machine’s interface where each washer size is located, and the machine would handle the washer stack assembly with minimal downtime.
The design idea was approved by the customer, and Ahaus built and delivered the machine to the automotive supplier in April 2012. The machine is capable of producing one assembly, which could include up to 45 components, in a cycle time of 40 seconds or less. If the auto supplier sees a permanent increase or change in product demands resulting in the machine requiring an update or further customization, Ahaus has a team of engineers ready to accommodate, whether it’s a quick fix on location or an entirely new integrated design element. The machine is designed so that two additional SCARA robots could be easily added to reduce the cycle time to 30 seconds if necessary in the future.
Ahaus Tool and Engineering works with customers every step of the way, through conceptual design, engineering, service and support to meet their specific requirements.
- System features quick change tooling to minimalize downtime.
- Inspection and reject stations are included in the system to remove any incorrect assemblies.
- Change-out washer banks meet quick substitution needs between stack recipes.