Project Study by Steve Palmgren, P.E., VP Sales and Marketing
One of our long-term customers in the automotive industry reached out to us for advice on improving a step in their manufacturing line for a new model of vehicle. The existing process used employees to manually spray sound deadener and blackout material under vehicles. The two main reasons to automate were that the sprayed substances could potentially pose a health hazard for employees, and there was much material wasted with manual spraying.
Because of a 15+ year relationship with the customer, Patti Engineering was chosen to develop, execute and deploy software controls to fully automate this process.
One of the biggest challenges of this project was that the vehicles did not stop in the paint booth cell for the robots to spray. The new system was designed to use line tracking to apply the material while the vehicle is in motion proceeding down the assembly line. The conveyor was interfaced to the robot.
Patti Engineering has a tremendous amount of experience with conveyor tracking. For this project, we used an encoder to feed the conveyor position to the PLC. We applied our toolbox of tracking code to the PLC to tell the FANUC robots when to start all the different programmed paths.
The robot cell was deployed to spray the sound deadener and blackout materials onto the vehicles. Labor was eliminated in this process, resulting in a large cost savings for our customer. There was also a material cost reduction because the robots were programmed to optimize spraying, resulting in less waste.