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Flexible Automation (Small Batch High Mix Assembly)

The Challenge

Customer: Aerospace firm

This aerospace customer had a highly customized product offering that was very labor intensive. The assembly process from product to product was similar, however all components within the assembly, plus the main housings, were unique. MiQ was selected to develop an automation solution that could adapted to customized assembly processes with a large degree of varying part inputs.

The Solution

With traditional automation, terms such as highly flexible and customizable tend to be challenging areas for design inputs. MiQ has developed multiple systems that have dealt with multiple sized products running on the same equipment. By approaching this solution with a focus on flexible automation MiQ was able to develop a system that could achieve the highly configurable need.

This system was design around part families with similar features for picking and placing components. Individual trays, on tray presenters, were developed to house each of these part families. Each tray within the presenter housed a unique part. If additional unique parts were needed to be added to the family, add another tray to the stack within the presenter. Hundreds of unique parts were housed within this system.

Part movement was accomplished with robot pick and place using a combination of vision feedback for part acquisition and fixed point locations. Multi-sided end of arm tools were used for part handling, along with tool changers to add to the required flexibility of the system. A dial holding 30+ assembly fixtures was in reach of the robot to place and assemble the components into the final configuration.

MiQ was able to draw upon our experience with flexible part handling and adaptive component presentation devices to accomplish this highly flexible automation system. Before approaching MiQ our customer did not think this product could be automated due to the vast array of combinations. MiQ unique approach to this problem gave our customer the solution needed to move from manual assembly to automation.

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