MechTek Engineering Consultancy Ltd is a specialist mechanical engineering company with design, project and direct service capability. A recent project was the design and build of a complete production line for Industrial Standby Power batteries. Several different sizes and designs of batteries were to be produced on the same line. This meant that the line had to be capable of robot pick and placingwith a vacuum ejector of a number of different battery terminals with no tooling change in order to minimize production downtime. This is further compounded by variations of size and finish of the battery terminals themselves.
Pick and place of 6 terminals at once was needed, the end effector being metal tubes fitting over the thinner ends of the terminals and lifting them from a plate. The vacuum ejector needed to cope with leaking around the terminals, and also be powerful enough to help lift the terminals into the tubes and not have the other terminals affected by a missed pick. Other factors included a need for a compact light weight vacuum ejector to allow it to move with the robot and easy ongoing maintenance by unskilled operators.
Piab’s energy-efficient COAX® vacuum ejector technology is a lightweight means of producing vacuum and was ideal for this application. Using the aluminum cartridge holder to facilitate mounting and connections, the MIDI Si32-3 COAX® cartridges were selected. The Si cartridges were used as they provided larger amounts of vacuum flow that were necessary to compensate for the leakage seen around the battery terminals.
The Piab solution worked to their satisfaction. Having de-centralized individual vacuum generation per each terminal meant no ill effects on others in case of missed picks. The compressed air energy use was minimized as the vacuum ejectors were easily switched on with a solenoid valve only when needed. The maintenance was a breeze as even unskilled operators were able to easily remove the COAX® cartridges for inspection. The straight-through design of the vacuum ejectors made the system dust-tolerant and its light weight design allowed for positioning right on the robot head that increased throughput of the machine being so close to the point of vacuum. “It works an absolute treat” – Patrick Brown – Mechtek Engineering Consultancy Ltd.