The entire process comprising four pins per slide takes only a few seconds. The fully assembled change-over slide is placed in the injection molding machine after a visual inspection and overmolding begins while the finished parts are removed from the previous slide and checked. The empty carrier is returned to the cell for refilling, resulting in a seamless cycle. In addition, the machine performs the same task with a time delay to feed a second injection molding workstation on the other side of the machine.
Since all the complex processes in the system are pre-programmed and run autonomously, it was very easy for the staff at Reiter to get used to working with the new robotic colleague, said the company. All components such as sensors, actuators and controllers communicate via Profibus and ensure that the robot follows the defined movement steps.
The process itself is directly controlled by inserting or removing the slides: A green light indicates that a slide on one side is fully populated. As the worker removes the slide and inserts an empty one, the robotic arm is busy with another slide on the other side. If the opening is accessed when the green light has not been activated, the robot stops immediately. The same thing happens if the large front door is opened, for example, to refill pins in the hopper.
Throughput is roughly the same as when assembly was performed manually, but more importantly, said Kolb, employees have been relieved of the strenuous handling of the extremely small inserts and error rates have declined. "Based on these good experiences, an expansion of the range of applications is conceivable. The machine is ready,” added Kolb: The initial design left space for two more slide feeders.