Our customer needed to produce two versions of a composite automotive part that required the routing of 100 holes and the application of 65 float nuts along with some rivet studs. In addition, they wanted a fully automated solution with +0.25mm tolerance on the holes, zero dust emission and a cycle time of just over three minutes. The customer thought it would take four machines to accomplish this.
Our automation team developed a solution that could route all the holes in a single orientation during a continuous process while using a minimum amount of floorspace. The process starts with the operator manually loading the part on a wall fixture where the automated cycle then starts. The part is clamped in place, the part style verified via a sensor, and several holes are drilled. The wall then rotates 180 degrees and a handling robot picks up the part and places it into the route cell where four robots cut about 65 holes. Each robot has a vacuum unit at its head and collects the dust during the routing process.
The handling robot then moves the part to the rivet nut station where two robots apply 66 float nuts, fed to the robots via a pneumatic tube. The nuts go in and are crimped using amperage as an indicator if the nut is properly secured. At the end of this process, all six robots communicate with the material handling robot to determine good or bad part.