DESCRIPTION The Flexible System is a two-tier work-feed conveyor employing one or more robots. These robots are automatically fed with components, fixtured on coded work-presentation pallets.
HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS The various pallets are loaded with their own particular components, in turn, on the upper tier at a reload module. This is the only manual task, and when completed the operator initiates pallet movement using a simple pushbutton control.
A return (down) lift then transports the loaded pallet to the lower tier. With loading times frequently shorter than robot cycles, the lower conveyor levels acts as the on-line work store. This buffer can allow unattended operation of the system whilst the robot catches up with the workload.
As the robot completes each job the conveyor automatically indexes the pallets along the lower tier and then, via the feed (up) lift, to the workstation module on the upper level. Here the pallet stops and is raised and accurately located on pneumatic shot bolts. The pallet code is automatically interrogated and passed to the robot, which selects the appropriate programme.
After the programme is completed, the pallet is returned to the operator for reloading and the system advances the next queuing pallet for processing. For welding applications, whilst this movement is taking place the robot uses the interval to clean it’s welding torch at an automatic torch cleaning station.
PRODUCT CHANGES The mix of jobs in production at a given time can be quickly changed without stopping the robot. Jobs are removed from or reintroduced into production by simply removing or inserting the appropriate pallet.