Electrical Connector Assembly Machine

A robot production cell has delivered such dramatic quality improvement within tight cost constraints for Autosplice Brittanic Limited that the manufacturer has been able to create new jobs and work previously carried out overseas has been brought back to the UK.

The robot-based manufacturing system supplied by Aylesbury Automation Limited uses the customer’s own equipment and three DENSO six-axis robots to link eight individual production processes and produce a tested component every 12 seconds. 

Autosplice Brittanic produces high quality engineering components for automotive, electronics and telecommunications industries. The company required an innovative solution for a complex application as part of the production of electrical connectors at its manufacturing plant in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. Quality improvements within tight cost constraints were essential to enable it to compete and win orders in international markets. 

The solution provided by Aylesbury Automation, with robots supplied by AA Robotics, who are the UK distributor for DENSO Robots, was low in capital cost because it relied on Autosplice Brittanic’s existing equipment - a rotary injection moulding machine and four punch presses. Aylesbury Automation added three new DENSO Robots and Cognex / ATEQ & HAL inspection & test stations, designed by its engineers, to the existing production equipment. 

In order to produce the high-quality electrical connector four, separate, accurately-punched parts and two turned parts are placed in each of four injection-mould cavities by the DENSO robots. Following the injection moulding process the moulded parts are removed from the mould tool cavities by robot and taken through two press-trimming operations. After the final trimming & forming operation the component is checked by Cognex vision equipment for moulding defects. The component is then placed into a specially designed test cell where a high voltage test, vacuum test and further vision checks are completed. Components which pass all the tests are removed from the test station and placed into a basket. The basket when full is conveyed to a washing process. 

There is no PLC in the manufacturing cell; all the machine’s functions are coordinated by the multi-tasking DENSO robot controllers using Devicenet I/O. This brings a considerable cost saving. Ten background tasks operate to control 256 I/O points and all production statistics, system status and error messages are shown on the robot HMI. 

This is Autosplice Britannic’s first robot manufacturing operation. Encouraged by the low capital cost of the AA Robotics / Aylesbury Automation solution, the company is now exploring other processes which might benefit from robotic solutions in terms of quality improvement and cost reductions. 

Andy Tomlinson General Manager of Autosplice Brittanic says ”Aylesbury Automation delivered the system on time to a very demanding time schedule. The support received has been second-to-none. It’s good that we have been able to win work back to the UK and as a result we’ve bucked the trend by creating four new jobs in Ilkeston”. 

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