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Why you need to consider automation to stay competitive

Articles

Tim Lavigne

Some molders offer medical manufacturing within pristine clean room environments.  Others utilize 1,000 ton and above presses for large automotive applications.  What any injection molding shop can do to stay competitive is offer customers a fully automated production cell.

Adopting automation in your facility shows customers that you embrace this rapidly evolving technology. Being aConsible to offer an injection molding cell that is complete with automation shows that you care about the customer’s project from part handling to deadline.  A few of the notable benefits of automation for your customers are: consistent cycles, improved part handling, maintained part orientation and mold protection.

Consistent Cycles:  A major benefit of automation, consistent cycles, are critical to ensure part quality and yields.  There are many process variables that come into play when molding, especially in parts with tight tolerances.  Once the process is established you want to do little to interrupt the cycle.  Performing manual removal of the parts could easily lead to disruption in process variables.  By utilizing automation of part removal it allows your cycle time to stay consistent with process variables.

Improved Part Handling:  Traditionally parts are automatically ejected from the mold and fall to a conveyor beneath the press.  During ejection parts have the ability to collide with other parts, tie bars or leader pins.  This opens the opportunity for blemishes on cosmetic surfaces, breakage on thin/delicate parts and potential for grease on parts with tie bar/leader pin contact.  A part removal robot will provide a controlled and repeatable removal, gently placing the finished product on desired downstream equipment.

Maintain Part Orientation:  As the part is placed on your downstream equipment you will want to make sure it is facing the proper direction for stacking or packaging.  Parts that drop freely from the press do not have this ability but parts that are repeatedly picked and placed with automation will be aligned properly every time for the downstream activity.  Having the parts manually aligned, especially immediately after ejection, can lead to opportunity of additional part defects.

Mold Protection:  A mold supplied by your customer reflects a great financial invest.  The design, construction and calibration of their mold is a process that takes a great amount of time and money.  By implementing automation into your production cell you are adding another level of defense against mold damage.  Robots include sensing circuits which confirm if a part is  grabbed.  If the robot detects a part has not been grabbed successfully it will send a signal to the molding machine, alarm and prevent the mold from closing.

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