Somex Automation have developed The “VisionPick” standard platform for providing Machine Vision Guiding of Pick & Place equipment.
The technique can be used for picking components from loose, bulk condition so that the component is individually precisely located for the subsequent placement into a process or location.
The application can be used for assembly processes, packaging processes and automated inspection.
This technique is far superior to conventional techniques such as vibratory bowl feeding as it more gentle on the component, less noisy, less particulate generation & more flexible.
A common requirement in Medical Device assembly automation:
Precision application of liquid solvent, adhesive or lubricant to tubing prior to insertion into another component.
The process developed by Somex Automation can be integrated into an assembly system to perform the task accurately, repeatably & at high speed.
The process uses Nordson EFD Pico dispensers to provide accurate, easily controlled, non contact jetting of the media as shown.
The solution includes optical sensing technology to verify that the media has been dispensed.
Dispense quantities can be in the order of nano-litres.
The application process shown completes internal & external surface wetting in 0.1 seconds.
The equipment shown is supplied complete with programmable control panel ready for integration into a larger system.
Somex Automation can provide full turnkey solutions based around this technology too.
Bulk Powder Pack-off
Automation of liner un-cuffing, tying and stowage. Bulk pharmaceutical is packed in a fibreboard drum which has a plastic liner pre inserted.
Prior to automation:
The Drum conveying, liner insertion and drum filling was automated. The full drum was then conveyed to an operator station. The operator un cuffed the liner from about the drum, the liner was then gathered and a neck created, a plastic tying strap was then applied. Problem- the pharmaceutical product was exposed to potential contamination by the operator e.g. from items that may fall from the operators pockets. Also the operator was exposed to repetitive strain injury.
Cycle time 35 seconds, operating environment explosive. Many solutions proposed twisting the drum or the liner to create a neck; however this trapped air in the top of the liner.
Somex Automation unique solution can be broken down into 3 operations:-
1) Uncuffing and holding the liner:
The drum was conveyed to a stopping position within the machine. The un cuffing mechanism which incorporates extraction moves from overhead down over the filled drum. The leading edge of the un cuffer is a flexible shroud which on the downward movement straightens the liner about the outside of the drum. The un cuffer then retracts Taking the liner with it and stretching it above the drum. Extraction assists with the presentation of the liner.
An upper and lower set of V slides advance from left and right. The Vs intersect to gather and restrict the liner into 50mm diameter. Sequencing of the slides excludes air build up within the liner. The upper and lower V slides currently in close proximity separate, upper set moving up and lower set moving down to present an elongated neck for the tying mechanism.
Tying is be means of a conventional strap and closure tying system from Hellermann Tyton. The tying gun is fitted to a linear slide which advances and securely ties the elongated neck. A linear actuator then stows the tied neck beneath the drum rim.
Pouch Packing and Counting
The customer manufactures a patch, which is injected with a controlled drug, which is then placed in a pouch. The pouches are packed 1000 to a box. Because it is controlled drug there can be no error in counting. The existing system proved to be unreliable producing frequent mis counts and required manual recounting and checking of all product.
Somex Automation were requested to submit a design proposal for a new packing machine that would eliminate counting errors and handle rejects all at a cycle time of 0.7 seconds per pouch. Pouches were produced in 2 sizes 75mm x 100mm & 100mm x 125mm.
A reliable sensor for counting each pouch was easily sourced, however product handling and control was fundamental to a satisfactory solution. Working closely with the customer we proposed the use of servo driven conveyer belts capable of giving rapid acceleration and de acceleration. Prior to passing under a counting sensor the pouches passed through a thickness sensor and reject mechanism to ensure 2 pouches were not lying on top of each other. After counting, the pouches are passed to a slower running belt, which overlapped the pouches, a process called shingling. After shingling 50 pouches the belt is accelerated forward to create a gap between the next count of 50. In the event of a mis count it is now possible to reject 50 rather than 1000 as previously.
For packing, the boxes increment as the pouches are inserted, 20 batches of 50 are packed prior to a box indexing. The box loading station is equipped with vibration and side clamps to assist with settling the pouches.
Change between product sizes is designed to be fast and efficient. Primarily using fixed hard stops the changeover by the operator is complete in 10 minutes. Installed early 2007 there has been no recorded incidence of a miscount.
Automotive Component Press
In this example an Assembly Press giving inconsistent results and poor quality was re-engineered to produce repeatable high quality results after each operation.
The press is used to fit light pipes to buttons for use in the automotive industry. There is a tight fit beteween mating parts and a flush fit is critical. Eight sets are assembled during one operation.
The problem with the existing press was 1 centrally located heavy duty pneumatic cylinder which produced uneven results. Some assemblies were damaged from over pressing and others were not completely pressed together.
Somex Automation re-design included 8 suitably rated cylinders, one for each assembly this facilitated individual adjustment for each nest.
The operator places the 16 parts, 8 light pipes and 8 Buttons in the nests and then pushes the platen to the home position A sensor then activates the press, The device is designed and build to comply with the CE requirements.
Precision Part Design
Companies developing leading edge medical or sensing technology will require precison designed components or housings Your time from concept to prototype and thru to final product is constantly being eroded. Sub contracting design of mechanical parts or housing to our design department makes good economic sense, allowing your engineers to concentrate on developing and fine tuning your core technology safe in the knowledge that the mechanical aspects of your project are advancing to meet your deadlines.
Helping our customers to make decisions on most suitable materials or most economic method of manufacture comes easy to our experienced team of engineers. Our service is very suited to early stage prototyping which may change as the product evolves. An incorrect decision on type of housing finish could make the difference between a GREAT looking product and an OK looking product.
We will work closely with your product development team to understand and interpet your needs to meet the requirements of your customers. We can advise and assist your engineers ensure your sensors or optics are securly positioned with precision parts. There will be a ‘no hassle factor’ for your engineers requiring those last minute changes or unforseen modifications.
Similarly we can propose a design solution for any for any jigs or fixtures required to test or integrate your product.
From initial ‘one off’s to medium or high batch runs we can identify the most suitable and economical supplier to ensure your technology hits the market on time.