Moving and Orienting Small Parts Remains Essential for Production Environments
Small parts automation is a key consideration when looking to optimize or add efficiency to a production environment. Increasing manufacturing capabilities and capacity is a never-ending goal; No matter the processes in place or equipment utilized there will always be ways to further hone production through the use of automation.
Simply automating certain aspects isn’t enough if the overall system design fails to move parts through the process in the most efficient way. Part positioning, or part orientation, is a critical element here as well — particularly when it comes to small parts automation. With the right orientation tools and equipment, you can align a hopper or bin full of parts for the next step in the process — down to the smallest tolerance levels possible. This has proven to be a difference between an efficient production line and one plagued by jams and costly delays.
Small parts automation and orientation should be a focus of proactive organizations in the near future as well. The Institute for Supply Management gauged that manufacturing activity unexpectedly rose in May, indicating the U.S. manufacturing sector is a demand-driven, supply chain-constrained environment. The ability to increase production, efficiently, will be rewarded.
Traditionally, many small parts feeding tasks were handled by vibratory bowl feeders. But these systems come with their own issues, such as jamming and part recirculation, noise levels, and high investment levels that can’t be easily repurposed (each bowl feeder is designed for a specific part).
Small parts automation today needs to be precise, fast, and flexible. Using sensors and programming, these systems need to be able to handle a variety of small parts and be easily adaptable to changeovers in the field. Let’s examine how Feedall Automation addresses these issues with their line of automation solutions.
Small Parts Automation Solutions from Feedall
As any manufacturer can tell you, working with or producing small parts does not necessarily mean less complexity. Given the variety in dimensions, shapes, and other considerations, several automation solutions are needed to cover the many possibilities that exist in your specific production environment. At Feedall Automation, we customize every piece of automation equipment we offer to match your application and integrate with your existing structure.
And while we’re highlighting solutions geared toward small parts here, remember Feedall can qualify any part with a feeding solution. We’ve developed our own in-house manufacturing capabilities to exert more control over customization options, leading to specialized solutions that better serve you in reaching your production goals.
Let’s look at some specific small parts automation solutions Feedall provides.
Bulk Loaded Hopper Feeders
Feedall’s random loaded small parts feeders are designed to feed sliding, hanging, or rolling-headed parts with diameter ranges within a 2:1 ratio. The type of parts ideally paired with this feeder include bushings, ball studs, rods, and inner and outer bearing braces. Using an elevator system, parts are then gravity-fed into chutes with orienting devices to provide a continuous flow of parts ready for the next stage of production — be it a grinder, press, machining equipment, or specialty stations.
Standard features include:
- Easily adaptable — You can quickly change the parameters of the feature with our full-color touchscreen HMI.
- Proprietary custom cleats — The height and spacing on elevators are custom designed for your specific parts.
- Proper part delivery — Parts are oriented and placed in a chute, with right or left-hand takeoff, or two-track delivery.
- Custom Exit Tooling — Delivers the parts as needed for your application, including extra-high discharge heights if needed.
- Custom-designed accessories — Automatic bank controls, air operating devices, diverters, timing controls, and other special equipment may be added with new tooling designs.
Small Cylindrical Part Hopper Feeder
The 2000-series hopper feeders from Feedall are used for small bar-shaped parts, like cut tubes and shafts, with a diameter range again within a 2:1 ratio. Designed for higher feed rates and gentle handling of parts with lower noise levels, this feeder sets itself apart with its ability to accommodate either hand-loaded or bulk-loaded parts.
This feeder eliminates recirculation of parts with a naturally-orienting elevator belt and can be used to feed many applications such as centerless grinders, thread rollers, and induction heaters. Like all Feedall Automation equipment, this feeder is sized and can be equipped with various tooling and optional elements to suit your specific application. By adding a Model 1650 Cross-Feed Conveyor to the front of the elevator, parts can be delivered in a continuous flow of end-to-end orientation.
The Model 1500 Bidirectional Orienting Conveyor is designed to serve gentle/non-mar part orienting and non-orienting parts feeding and is capable of handling part shapes of many different types — from discs, rings, and hubs to cylindrical shafts and tubes. With two belts running in opposing directions, the conveyor allows a part to recirculate until it exits with the correct orientation to another unit in a secondary process.
These orienting conveyors feature:
- High speeds, while maintaining low noise levels
- Quick setups and the ability to handle a wide range of parts through adjustable tooling
- Flexible application feeder design
Dependable Automation Begins with Feedall
With more than 75 years of success in delivering industrial automation solutions in multiple markets, Feedall Automation helps your business improve production efficiency, increase overall output, and reduce operating costs. Whether you’re dealing with large billets or small bars, we have the experience to provide a competitive edge through automation.
When you partner with Feedall, you’re collaborating with an automation expert that delivers proven part feeding and industrial automation solutions that can be integrated seamlessly into your production line. Each piece of equipment is also backed with parts availability, support services, and a best-in-class repair program, ensuring your investment remains viable and productive for the long term.