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Elevator conveyor system automates grinding machine feed
When a company needed to improve its system for feeding bearings into a cylindrical grinder machine, it turned to DB Automation for a solution.
The existing system was over 25 years old, relying on a hopper selecting bearings and feeding them down a copper tube to the grinding machine. Parts for the existing system were becoming more difficult to find and as a result, much more expensive. Also, the ageing system was requiring more and more maintenance, again increasing costs. Furthermore, the hopper had to be re-filled up by hand at regular intervals, which used up manpower which could be utilised better elsewhere. It became clear that a new solution was required.
In the new design, rather than operators taking a scoopful of bearings, walking up steps and filling a small hopper manually every 30 minutes or so, an elevator conveyor system is now in place. The large hopper is filled with a greater amount of bearings in one go, meaning that the system can be left to run throughout the shift with minimal human intervention. The benefits here are clear as staff can be utilised in other areas rather than unnecessarily having to watch over the machine, increasing staff productivity. The system is designed to require far less maintenance than existing systems, meaning that machine uptime is increased, and therefore a greater output is achieved.
The elevator conveyor feeds the bearings into a vibratory bowl feeder. To power this, DB Automation utilised a vibratory drive unit, of its own evolved design which feeds the bearings along a flight track running from the bottom of the bowl to the top. The bearings move up along the flight and at the top they are orientated the same way as each other and then presented through a hole of the chosen bearing size. The bearing then travels along a gravity feed track, specific to the bearing size. Parts of the tooling here are interchangeable depending on the size of bearing. This is all mounted on a height adjustable stand as a different infeed height is required for different sized bearings.
The system also contains sensors which will shut off the vibratory drive unit should there be a build-up of components in the feed track, and another to stop the elevator conveyor when the bowl has been filled. They will then restart once the levels have reduced. This means that the system is not overloaded and helps prevent breakdowns, therefore reducing machine downtime.
The feed rate of the new system is greatly improved too, ranging from 75 parts per minute for large components, to 100 for much smaller components, which again will improve machine uptime and therefore productivity. With all of these benefits put together, it soon becomes clear that the solution provided by DB-Automation is the obvious choice with the client already having taken delivery of one system, and three more systems in production.
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