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Thread: Automation - Box Indexing

  1. #1
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    Aug 2015
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    Automation - Box Indexing

    We're a mostly automotive injection molding facility looking for a cost-effective way to index boxes. We are constantly hiring operators, but frequently stop presses as we don't have warm bodies to get the parts in boxes. Here's the options I've came up with so far:

    1. Universal EOAT - Works only on presses with robots (only 6 out of 33 presses have robots). Make an EOAT setup for the largest width cavity set with a hole in the plate for a gripper to grab the sprues. Parts are ejected and fall into a container at the bottom of the EOAT. A flap at the bottom opens up to drop parts in boxes.

    2. Carousel Style - Place 4 boxes on a turntable and index when each box is full. I've seen these in person and they are very large and would be in the way if we used existing belts on the press. Our existing belts come out the operator side, the turntable I saw demo'd had a long belt that ran under the press with the turntable at the back of the press (towards the ends of the tie bars), not the side. These would run about $7k each belt.

    3. Train Style - Make a 'train' of boxes on small tote dolly and place on operator side so parts fall off existing belts to fill boxes. Once box is full, a motor pulls a string which indexes the boxes to the next empty one. This is my favorite idea as it is very cheap and easy to implement. Management think it will look hokey.

    Any other novel ideas to cheaply index boxes (our presses are capable of counting parts and sending out a 'container full' signal)

    Thanks,
    -Zach

  2. #2
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    Re: Automation - Box Indexing

    Carousel is nice because it's generally less maintenance, requires less operator intervention in my experience, and can easily help prevent contamination by wrapping the carousel in sheets similar to a cleanroom environment

    But depends on floor plan and box sizes - train style might suit your floor-space needs

    I might use EOAT if you must separate the runner/sprue from your parts and a runner separator won't work sufficiently

  3. #3
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    Re: Automation - Box Indexing

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisprocess View Post
    Carousel is nice because it's generally less maintenance, requires less operator intervention in my experience, and can easily help prevent contamination by wrapping the carousel in sheets similar to a cleanroom environment

    But depends on floor plan and box sizes - train style might suit your floor-space needs

    I might use EOAT if you must separate the runner/sprue from your parts and a runner separator won't work sufficiently

    Any idea how an operator would go about resetting the train style indexer once the last box is full? I agree the carousel would be easier to operate, it's just like $15k to implement vs the train style being ~$1K.

  4. #4
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    Re: Automation - Box Indexing

    Placing empty boxes on one side of the train and removing full boxes form the other side of the train.

    The advantage here is you can add/remove multiple boxes at any given time without stopping production

  5. #5
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    Re: Automation - Box Indexing

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisprocess View Post
    Placing empty boxes on one side of the train and removing full boxes form the other side of the train.

    The advantage here is you can add/remove multiple boxes at any given time without stopping production
    I'm trying to picture how you would 'reset' the train without interruption. Say there's 4 boxes and it's filling the 4th one. So you take off the other 3 and replace with empty boxes, how do you see returning the train to the first box position?

  6. #6
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    Re: Automation - Box Indexing

    You're filling box #3, adding empty boxes to #1 and #2, and removing full boxes 4 and 5.

  7. #7
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    Re: Automation - Box Indexing

    I had some u shaped conveyors built once. Basically operator put the box on the belt and it ran down to the fill station in the robot cage. You could stack several in a row on the input side. Then when it was full (signal from the robot) it would push the box to the side and it would roll out back to the operator. Used arms to stop the boxes in the correct spots and a ram to locate the box in the right spot for the robot (probably not needed for this situation). Dynacon built it for us https://www.dynamicconveyor.com/

  8. #8
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    Re: Automation - Box Indexing

    If you’re just looking to fill boxes then I think you could use Universal Robotics, Sawyer or even a Baxter co-bots that require little to no guarding. They can be taught by leading them through their routine and by floor personnel not robot techs. Look them up and make up your own mind.
    Rick.

  9. #9
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    Re: Automation - Box Indexing

    Contact: HFA (Harvard Factory Automation) or MAC (Molding Automation Concepts)

    KOM

    brent

  10. #10
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    Re: Automation - Box Indexing

    Thanks everyone for your repliess, sorry I haven't checked back in a bit.
    @iautry1973 and @rickbatey - Every new press we buy we're getting robots. I need a solution for presses without robots.

    We would ideally use the existing conveyor running for operator to nonoperator side of the press (currently used for reject - out the back, or good parts - out the front). The belts dump off into a container, which is then poured up on a table, inspected, the boxes are filled, APW established, then boxes are weighed to get part count. We want parts going directly in the boxes already counted. If they are suspect they go to sort, if they are off a good running mold the boxes get taped and shipped.

    We're looking for a solution that would be less than $4,000 per press (we have about 20 to do). Right now I'm just looking for novel ideas, then I want to prototype one (either built in-house or by a company like HFA)

    Thanks!
    -Zach

  11. #11
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    Oct 2016
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    Re: Automation - Box Indexing

    Dyanacon and EMI both make weigh scale conveyors that would work for that. Also you could send them a "Part made signal" and their PLC would just move the box when it has enough parts. Worth checking into. The belt I mentioned before, the idea would be the same just the signals would be a little different

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