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Leading robotics provider partners with RNA UK to transform R A Labone’s insert moulding process

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R A Labone, a plastics injection moulding manufacturer, wanted to install an automated system for the production of its tyre pressure sensor housings which would meet the volume and price demands of its blue chip customer whilst enabling the manufacture to be based in the UK.

A solution was required for the whole end-to-end manufacturing process, including loading inserts, moulding, insert-present testing, cooling, decay testing, and packaging.

The solution

RNA, a leading automation integrator, partnered with FANUC UK, the world’s largest robotics and automation solutions provider, to produce a fully automated system for manufacturing, testing and packaging. Two FANUC M10iA robots were integrated into the automated system, which includes the following steps:

  1. RNA transform insert moulding processTwo types of component parts (Insert and Antenna) are fed and orientated via two vibratory bowls and linear feed systems.
  2. The components are fed into two independent precession shuttle mechanisms so that the Insert and Antenna are always in a known repeatable and accurate positional location
  3. A FANUC M10iA robot is used with a double gripper mechanism to pick four inserts and four antenna from their locations
  4. RNA transform insert moulding processThe inserts and antennas are placed in the correct orientation within the four-cavity moulding tool
  5. A vertical moulding machine with a two position rotary index table is used to enable simultaneous loading of inserts and antennas while the moulding process takes place
  6. On completion of moulding, the two position rotary index table actuates and presents an open mould tool to a second FANUC M10iA robot
  7. The mouldings are taken through an electrical test to check inserts are present.
  8. The mouldings are moved to a specially developed cooling system based on a rotary table and cooling fans to ensure parts are cool before leak decay testing.
  9. The mouldings are placed on a leak decay test station
  10. The mouldings are placed into automated packing area.
  11. Empty boxes are fed from an in-feed conveyor to the packing area, filled and transferred to the out-feed conveyor system.

Following the installation of the automated system at the R A Labone plant, FANUC and RNA deployed engineers to educate employees around how to set up, operate and maintain the automated system.

Benefits

The automated solution provides a fully integrated and compact system increasing productivity, ensuring consistent product quality, reducing costs and minimising waste. The system also increases precision, speed and accuracy when placing the inserts and antennas into the moulding tool. Reliability of positioning components is also ensured by high precision and accuracy of the handling processes.

Outcomes

Manufacturing efficiency and output have met the required targets as a result of the automated system, with 24 hour production 5 days per week.

Alan Edmonds, head of technical sales, RNA said: “We chose FANUC due to the speed and accuracy of the FANUC robot and as part of a recommendation from R A Labone who already use FANUC’s products and services. The automated system has completely transformed production capabilities for RA Labone and we have had further requests for future projects off the back of this success.”

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