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ATI Tool Changers Optimize PrimeTest® Machining System
PrimeTest® Automation of Boca Raton, Florida, designs and develops custom manufacturing solutions. Recognizing the individuality of each manufacturing environment, they deploy an innovative, interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving. PrimeTest® works closely with customers to develop their ideal manufacturing process by increasing throughput and product quality.

The automation engineers at PrimeTest® believe that the best way to fix a problem is to start with a deep dive into the current state. That’s exactly what they did when a customer producing specialized components for the oil and gas industry inquired about updating a production line. The process used a combination of automated technologies to machine, measure, and mark an assortment of component parts.

The previous process was labor intensive and struggled to efficiently manage the customer’s high-volume, high-mix inventory. Even for a seasoned worker, it was hard to distinguish parts from one another. It was difficult to track parts as they moved through the process so problems could not be identified until the end of the line, which resulted in lagging cycle times and quality issues from improper processing. Workers had to read work orders and manually program the automated steps. There was a lot of inefficient movement of parts by hand, and some of the metal components were heavy and cumbersome and put workers at risk of injury.

The available floor space for the cell created an additional challenge for the design team from PrimeTest®. They needed to pack multiple operations into the existing space while eliminating hazardous manual steps and elevating the overall process accuracy.

The customer’s application was perfect for a robot equipped with automatic tool changers. Robots can move fast, maneuver easily through a set path, and perform operations the same way every time. ATI Tool Changers allow the robot to swap out the tools automatically, which promotes the use of multiple end-effectors and eliminates the need for manual intervention.

PrimeTest® integrated a FANUC robot arm to make more efficient use of the limited space and handle heavy and awkward materials. Mounting the robot upside-down onto a Gudel Gantry track enabled accessibility to all parts of the cell. Now, the robot verifies the different part types by weight and automatically deploys the correct programming for that specific part. The new Robotic Machine Tending and Marking System handles the customer’s vast array of parts easily while it keeps employees safe from hazards.

Used together, the ATI Tool Changers and FANUC robot significantly increase the functionality of the system. The two-part ATI Tool Changer couples end-of-arm tools to the robot arm securely and empowers the robot to complete many tasks within one cycle. ATI Tool Changers are comprised of a Master-side plate, mounted to the robot flange, and a Tool-side plate that is attached to the end-of-arm tools.

The pneumatically-actuated tool changer couples reliably without misalignment every time, and includes a fail-safe locking mechanism to ensure the Master and Tool sides stay connected in the event of vibration or loss of air pressure. ATI Tool Changers are available to suit a myriad of application and robot types, and help safeguard high-value, custom end-effectors against drops and other shop floor mishaps.

When it is time for a tooling changeover, the robot glides over to the tool storage area, places the Tool-side plate and end-effector, and detaches from the Master plate. The Master plate couples automatically and securely to the new end-effector, and the robot is off to work again. Automatic tool changing further optimizes the workspace by keeping robot tooling close to the point-of-use. The configuration takes advantage of waiting time by having the robot complete some of the steps concurrently, and increases the overall safety of employees because they don’t have to enter the cell.

The customer's new system can multi-task and process two different types of material simultaneously. It includes part tracking, which improves accuracy and quality control. Staying organized, keeping employees’ workspaces hazard-free, and improved consistency and quality of finished goods made the investment an ideal solution for this component supplier.

For more information about ATI's Robotic Tool Changers, click here.

To visit PrimeTest Automation's website, click here.

Video Courtesy of PrimeTest Automation

Top: PrimeTest® Cell Layout Middle: Machining, Measuring, and Marking Application Bottom: ATI's QC-22 Robotic Tool Changer

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