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ATI Tool Changers and Comau's SmartCell Make Flexible Assembly a Reality
Apex, NC , January 30, 2015
In today's manufacturing climate we need technology and systems that allow us to align production capability to highly dynamic market demand. This has been difficult for traditional assembly lines, which can only accommodate a relatively small number of model variations. Since the early 1900s assembly processes have been arranged in sequential order, offering no flexibility in production quantity and investment timetables. The assembly line Henry Ford invented is an aging and expensive, all or nothing, manufacturing strategy. Now in 2015, assembly flexibility is a reality, not only in terms of product variations, but also in production volumes and investment capital. Comau LLC has developed an assembly machine architecture called SmartCell that does just that. The SmartCell system was developed to align production capacity to market demand. This provides the customer with investment flexibility, production flexibility, and product flexibility. It also improves speed to market and reduces fixed and variable costs.

The SmartCell is a large gantry style robot with a central pallet-positioning system and two mobile vertical axes, rather than one. Instead of a single, dedicated end-effector that only changes when a new model is being made, each robot arm is equipped with a Robotic Tool Changer from ATI Industrial Automation so end-effectors can be exchanged continuously during the assembly sequence. The end-effectors are mounted to special, compact tooling plates, or “shoe boxes,” that reside inside the cell. The SmartCell can hold ten shoe box tools. With two tooling arms, one is always working, while the other is reconfiguring for the next step in the sequence. Production is continuous and uninterrupted.

By implementing SmartCells, manufacturers can dramatically reduce costs. Compared with a traditional assembly line, fixed and variable costs can be reduced by 40 percent, floor space reduced by 60 percent, and the number of automation components reduced by 75 percent. Impressive numbers by any measure.

ATI Robotic Tool Changers provides the flexibility to automatically change end-effectors or other peripheral tooling. These Tool Changers are designed to function reliably for millions of cycles at rated load while maintaining extremely high repeatability. For this reason, the ATI Tool Changer has become the number-one tool changer of choice around the world.

More information on Comau LLC here.

More information on our Robotic Tool Changers here.




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1031 Goodworth Dr. | Apex, NC 27539 USA
Phone:+1 919-772-0115 | Fax:+1 919-772-8259
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