Heavy-duty guides selected for automotive assembly process

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HepcoMotion has supplied Heavy Duty Ring guides and Winkel Heavy Duty Linear Systems to Industrial Automation for use in an innovative automated machine for applying seals to car doors.

Industrial Automation's original thinking is complemented by the integration of tried-and-tested components in its one-off machines, which helps to save time for the design team, as well as reducing costs. This means that when a project calls for effective linear or circular motion, Industrial Automation asks the HepcoMotion sales engineer to call. Senior Consultant Engineer, Graham Thexton, states: "In the eight years we have been using HepcoMotion we have never had a problem with slideways."

Specialising in innovative automated machinery and production systems for the automotive, food and drink, consumer goods and general manufacturing industries, Industrial Automation is a division of the TEW Engineering Group. In particular, the company is said to be a world leader in rubber/weather strip sealing systems, and it is its expertise in this field that led to its recent selection by an Italian automotive manufacturer for the design and manufacture of a bespoke car door sealing system.

In this project the customer wanted an innovative method of applying a seal to a car door. While other automotive manufacturers wrap the seal around the door, joining the two ends, the desire here was to apply the seal as a complete band. This would ensure a better fit and a quicker process.

Indexing and shuttling

The resultant system, designed by Industrial Automation, comprises two side-by-side workstations; while one is in production, the door panel on the other is being loaded/unloaded. Both stations have, as their basis, a HepcoMotion Heavy Duty Ring that is responsible for indexing the door panel to allow a static drilling head to fix the seal to the door. The positioning accuracy that the ring achieves is to within +/-0.04mm.

When one cycle is completed the entire production table containing the two rings is moved sideways, positioning the second station under the drilling head. HepcoMotion's Winkel Heavy Duty Linear System is responsible for the shuttle movement. This range is suitable for capacities that range from a few kilograms to 50,000kg. Bearings can be from 40–280mm in diameter and specially coated if required. Thexton explains: "You can buy heavy-duty slide bearings that are very expensive but also very temperamental. For us, Winkel is the ideal solution, as they are so strong; we fit them and know they will do their job well.

"Whenever we need slideways and continuous motion systems we use HepcoMotion; their products meet the requirements of many applications. We have tried other brands but they have proven unreliable. It is vital that we have confidence in the product that we are designing-in and that it is not over-engineered. It is all about optimising cost."

Another important factor in Industrial Automation's choice of HepcoMotion is the company's quick grasp of what is needed for a given application. Thexton concludes: "We both apply our expertise and specialist knowledge to the project in hand and this is an important part of the process, as our machines are largely one-offs and often world-firsts."

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