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Minimized resetting time


Automotive
An Italian bearing producer faced quality problems in the grinder process. The low precision of the in-feed channels, the long resetting time and risky out-feed handling, endangered an important part of the Y-bearing production.

Challenge
Handling rings of different size and position, while reducing wear and resetting time.


Solution
A software controlled pick and place system.


Benefits
A significant reduction of resetting time and increased quality and control through the control concept and software.

Wear problems

When they bought a new grinder they rapidly decided that they wanted someone to automate the process. "The previous grinder was fed by two conveyors" says the Project Manager of process development at the company. "However, owing to difficult operating conditions, the wear rate was very high, mainly at the out-feed end."

"For the new grinding machine we asked FlexLink for a very flexible system, with a resetting time of less than 9 minutes", adds the Technical Service manager.

High performance grinding machine

The most difficult part was the interface between the control software in the electric panel and the grinder”, the FlexLink Project Manager explains. "The grinder is fed with bearing rings through four channels, but each ring must be positioned with the raceway placed always on the same axis against the machine. That means modifying bearing position from time to time, depending on both shape and size. The problem of resetting has been solved using a vertical-horizontal transport, with a XL cleated chain turned through 90°, lifting and pushing bearing rings."

Linear pick and place unit and enclosures

Bearing rings are picked from a conveyor by a linear unit, equipped with a four-bin small carriage, and then moved to feed the machine. Carriage stroke is variable, depending on ring type. The bearing rings are then placed by a pneumatic piston into the four grinder channels. The piston stroke is variable in such a way that the ring raceway is always on the same axis when loading. After grinding, the bearing rings are picked by an integrated manipulator and placed on the carriage of another linear unit, which moves and places each ring in a channel, towards an existing conveyor.

Significant reduction of resetting times

"With this FlexLink solution we achieved a significant reduction of resetting times. With the new grinding machine, after the ring type has been set up by the operator, all strokes of the units are software controlled", says the Project Manager at the company. "The use of a gantry system, instead of previous manlike robots, also allowed us to create a free passage for operators under the manipulator from the grinding to the assembly area", the Project Manager concludes.