Alpha Integration, Inc. (Murfreesboro, TN), a manufacturer of turnkey automated assembly, vision and testing systems engaged WEISS North America to provide a turnkey solution for their 6′ tall automotive parts assembly machine. The WEISS TR1500 Rotary Indexing Table became the obvious choice…
Sam Westbrooks, Alpha’s Senior Mechanical Design Engineer, knew he wanted an open center indexer to mount the tooling towards the inside of the system on a stationary center plate. This would accommodate the ease-of-loading at the load stations and provide a clear view of the processes, not to mention maintenance advantages.
Due to the unique needs of the application, the indexer would need to be positioned five feet above the assembly would require a custom base chassis to accommodate their unique tooling needs.
‘TIERED UP’ OPEN CENTER TECHNOLOGY
After careful study, WEISS determined that the optimal solution would incorporate a “tiered-up” innovative chassis and rotary indexing table system. The key to this involved a stationary center plate, dial plate and base frames, all of which were completely designed, machined, manufactured and assembled by WEISS North America at their Willoughby, OH facility. The complete automation solution was delivered to the client as a single-source, preassembled system.
This complete solution allowed Alpha to build the nest and station assemblies offline so that they could be integrated to the dial system with ease.
At the core of the fully integrated system was the WEISS TR1500 rotary indexing table ring with a large open center − which offered an extremely low profile design and a high level of accuracy. The TR1500 ring allowed for optimal design space while reducing the overall footprint of the machine. It also provided improved accuracy and easy access to parts. Alpha’s machine featured 12 clip install stations, which were easily operational with the WEISS TR1500 Series rotary table, featuring ring diameters up to 2,200 mm – which provided more than enough scope for coupling with processing stations.
The height limitations of the chassis design utilized one base frame that leveraged two additional riser frames to make up the height. The first riser attached to the top of the base frame and supported the TR1500 index table with a 90.5″ diameter tool plate. The second riser frame was used to support the electroless-nickle plated steel stationary plate.
The majority of the machine’s 12 stations required a press station to be bolted on top of the 1″ thick steel stationary plate. These press assembly stations apply down forces onto the 75 lb. nests that are carried by the index table’s aluminum tool plate. To overcome the potentially debilitating 900 lbs. of force on the 410 lb. center stationary plate and index table, the unique WEISS design leveraged an intermediate riser weldment that went through the rotary indexer, and bolted to the middle riser frame. This by-passed the indexer − creating a “no-force” solution onto the index table, thus promoting longevity.
All of the WEISS system tables and rings offered accurate dowel holes on all mounting surfaces, including the main casting for mounting to the machine base, the rotating dial plate for easy mounting of the tool plate and the center stationary plate. Alpha simply transferred the WEISS mounting hole pattern to their tool plate drawing, requiring no adjustment or reaming of dowel holes during assembly.
With the WEISS dial system design at the centerpiece of the assembly, Alpha was able to originate all of the tooling and mounting from the interior of the dial assembly − allowing system maintenance to be much easier and more efficient. In addition, the dial system is wide open for ease of loading and allows for an easier view of the entire production process – without tooling intrusion.
SATISFACTION AND RESULTS
The combination of robust construction and innovative, “open-center” design of the TR1500 rotary indexing table allowed the WEISS engineers to provide Alpha with a superior, one-source automotive parts assembly solution − delivering a 26 second cycle time with an indexing speed of 2.3 seconds.
To ensure and facilitate a collaborative assembly design effort, WEISS engineers used the same CAD/3D software (Solidworks) platform as Alpha Integration. According to Alpha’s Senior Mechanical Design Engineer, Sam Westbrooks,
“It was immensely convenient to send CAD files to and from WEISS to seamlessly share designs. It was like a breath of fresh air to work with a company that ‘spoke our language’ when it came to CAD/3D and
“By using WEISS for the complete system package, we don’t have to worry about getting plates or base frames made and finished. The system comes complete so the tooling can be installed immediately; which is efficient and convenient. Plus, the delivery times from WEISS were outstanding.”