We made a post in December about our new advancements in small part bending. The idea was to offload high volume small bent parts so humans don’t have to stand in front of a machine for hours doing repetitive work. A lot of the small parts we bend require the operator to have their fingers close to the brake press tooling which over long runs of parts can be dangerous. We’ve made some huge leaps forward now that our robot/brake cell is in full production.

The robotic bending project is complicated enough that we will break the updates into several posts. This post will focus on part loading.

One of the first changes we made was blank holding. The flat parts are now put into a tray and loaded in a rack ready to be inserted into the robot cell safely from the outside. The trays allow the robot to know exactly where each part is and grab it. A macro written in the robot allows it to sequence across and then down through the different parts in the tray. The trays are precise enough that a “bad blank” cannot be loaded therefore checking the parts as the operators load them.

An empty tray ready to accept the flat blanks. These trays were put together in house using laser cut panels and 3D printed accessories.

An empty tray ready to accept the flat blanks. These trays were put together in house using laser cut panels and 3D printed accessories.

A rack to hold all of the trays. The top section contains different trays and the bottom stores completed parts in Kanban quantities for different customers.

A rack to hold all of the trays. The top section contains different trays and the bottom stores completed parts in Kanban quantities for different customers.

A tray loaded into the cell waiting for processing. The 3 sensors on the left allow the robot to detect which tray has been loading and automatically select which tooling to use.

A tray loaded into the cell waiting for processing. The 3 sensors on the left allow the robot to detect which tray has been loading and automatically select which tooling to use.