Feeding system handles multiple product variants

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Elscint Automation has designed, developed and delivered a parts feeding system that features twin bowl feeders, a gravity chute and escapement to feed metal fins - of various sizes - that are to be welded onto tubes.

Elscint Automation has recently designed, manufactured and supplied a special type of vibratory bowl feeder for feeding fins that are to be welded onto tubes.

The requirement was for feeding two fins at a time, and there were three types of fins to be fed at different times. The scope of work entailed providing changeover tooling for accommodating the three types of fins - for which the maximum size was 60mm width x 120mm length and the minimum size was 15mm width x 30mm length. The thickness ranged from 0.8-3.00mm.

Elscint designed a bowl with the minimum amount of changeover tooling required to accommodate all the three fins. Two bowl feeders were supplied, one clockwise and the other anti-clockwise, each feeding one fin each. A very long gravity chute of 3m was provided to take the fins from the bowl feeder to the customer's welding fixture. A small changeover was provided in this chute to accommodate the three sizes.

Noise control

An escapement mechanism was provided at the end of the chute to ensure that one component is released at a time. The standard Elscint escapement was used, slightly modified to suit the different types of fins. With the fins being metal and the bowl being stainless steel, a lot of noise was expected; however, Elscint coated the bowl with its popular Elscinthane PU coating, which reduced the noise level drastically. Additionally, a mild steel noise enclosure was provided, lined with acoustic foam to reduce the noise level to a very manageable 70dB. An acrylic top cover was provided for the noise enclosure.

Hinges and knobs were provided at strategic locations on the enclosure to ensure that the operator can see the component level as well as top up the bowl feeder. In addition to this, a 'low level' indicator was provided on the control panel to ensure that the operator is made aware if the level of components in the vibratory parts feeder reduces. As is the normal practice with Elscint, a poka-yoke was provided by using an extra sensor to detect any incorrectly oriented component in the chute. However, due to the intricate orientation tooling in the bowl feeder, the chance of a wrong component coming out is negligible.

The customer works in an environment where he continuously has to switch between his own generated genset power and the power provided by the state utility. As there is always a difference between the input frequency of the two, a frequency controller was provided to maintain constant output frequency and voltage. As usual, the Elscint vibratory feeders provided were CE marked.

Another requirement of the customer was to have the control panel at a different location while the potentiometers and emergency switches remain near the operator.

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