A Major Tier 1 Automotive Supplier wanted to remove from its manufacturing procedure the potential for a repetitive strain injury (RSI) occurring during one of their manual processes which required inserting clips onto multiple tabs for a vehicle armrest. They approached LAC Conveyors & Automation to develop a solution for clip automation.
The customer is a major Tier 1 supplier of soft trim elements to the automotive industry that supply to a large array of well-known motor vehicle brand names.
LAC Conveyors & Automation have an enviable reputation for problem-solving and solution delivery across a broad spectrum of industries.
The customer wanted to eliminate any repetitive strain industry (RSI) potential by automating an existing manual procedure putting clips into vehicle armrests.
The key to providing a clip automation solution was developing the design of tooling that could hold the clips in place whilst a series of cylinders, one per clip pushed the clips into the armrest. This was successfully achieved with the operator now having tooling whereby it is only possible to insert the clip in the correct way.
The machine is configured to load three clips into four separate armrests, 12 in total. The slots into which the clips are inserted have been designed to accept only the correct orientation. Each clip is monitored by a sensor. Once the clips have been loaded the armrests are put into the position where the sensor acknowledges its correct positioning. The operator then locks off the unit prior to firing the cylinders to locate the clips. Sensors let the operator know if the clips have been located correctly. A build ticket is printed and applied to each armrest as it is removed from the tooling.
Costs were kept down by modifying two existing framework designs that have been developed for the same customer and the general feel and look of the machinery were maintained and training of operators in their operation is made easier.
The machine went through a Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) program to ensure that the machine operated as per the customer brief.
The machine features:
- Local LED status indication of each clip tool that changes as a clip is successfully loaded
- Start buttons at either end of the machine for flexibility
- Electric height raising and lowering with memory settings for different operators
- High lumens lighting
- Full high-resolution HMI screen with a status of all machine and sequence instructions
There was a customer requirement of a 98% success rate for clip insertion which has been easily achieved along with removing the potential for RSI problems and a significant productivity increase over the original manual operation with guaranteed quality and build details logged.