Conceptual design of a fixtureless reconfigurable automated assembly system

Dymond, F. S. D. (2009-12)

Thesis (MScEng (Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The conceptual design of a fixtureless reconfigurable automated spot welding system for manufacturing subassemblies for residential circuit breakers was investigated. This research was aimed at developing a possible low cost automation alternative to a South African industrial manufacturer, which is presently heavily dependent on personnel for manual assembly of their core products. System reconfiguration allows for the assembly of a range of subassemblies with geometric component variation on a given system configuration, as well as the potential for the system to be reconfigured to assemble other ranges of circuit breaker subassemblies. The subassembly selected as focus consists of six different components, which vary geometrically from one product variant to another. A fixtureless approach was selected, to minimise reconfiguration down time and the need for reconfigurable fixtures since reconfigurable fixtures have not found significant acceptance in industry. This varies from a fixture-based approach, which was considered in related research. The conceptual assembly system presented here consists of the following modules: a flexible vision based part feeder, twin 6 DOF robotic manipulators each with a multipurpose gripper, and a stationary spot welding station. Critical conceptual design elements were further investigated to refine their selection and confirm feasibility with respect to the target industry application. This process ended with a preliminary cost estimate which served as a basis for comparison between the fixtureless, fixture-based and present manual assembly process. The fixtureless concept was overall more expensive than the fixture-based concept, primarily because of the limits to production throughput. The fixtureless concept was however cheaper than the present manual assembly approach but had a far longer payback period than desired by the industry. The complexity and possible uncertainties of the concept combined with the long payback period indicated that the fixtureless concept is not suitable for the target application.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die konsepsionele ontwerp van 'n setmaatlose herkonfigureerbare outomatiese puntsweisstelsel vir die vervaardiging van subsamestellings van huishoudelike stroombrekers is ondersoek. Hierdie navorsing is gemik op die ontwikkeling van 'n moontlike lae koste outomatiese alternatief vir 'n Suid Afrikaanse industriële vervaardiger, wat tans sterk afhanklik is van werkers wat die montering van hul kern produkte met die handsamestelling doen. Stelsel herkonfigurasie laat die samestelling van 'n reeks subsamestellings, met geometriese komponentvariasies, op 'n gegewe stelsel toe, asook die potensiaal om die stelsel te herkonfigureer om ander reekse van stroombreker-subsamestellings te monteer. Die subsamestelling wat as fokus gekies is, bestaan uit ses verskillende komponente met geometriese verskille van tussen produkvariante. 'n Setmaatlose benadering is gekies ten einde aftyd vir herkonfigurasie en die noodsaaklikheid van herkonfigureerbare setmate te minimeer, omdat laasgenoemde nie noemenswaardig deur die industrie aanvaar word nie. Hierdie benadering verskil van 'n setmaat-gebaseerde benadering wat in verwante navorsing ondersoek is. Die konsepsionele monteringstelsel wat hier aangebied word, bestaan uit die volgende modules: 'n plooibare, visiegebaseerde voerapparaat; dubbele sesvryheidsgraad robotiese manipuleerders, elk met 'n veeldoelige gryper; en 'n statiese puntsweisstasie. Kritiese elemente van die konseptuele ontwerp is verder ondersoek om hul keuses te verfyn en uitvoerbaarheid in die teiken industriële toepassing te bevestig. Hierdie proses is afgesluit deur 'n voorlopige kosteraming wat gedien het as 'n basis vir die vergelyking van setmaatlose, setmaat-gebaseerde en die huidige handsamestellingstelsels. Die setmaatlose konsep was oorhoofs duurder as die setmaat-gebaseerde konsep, hoofsaaklik as gevolg van beperkings op die produksie-deurset. Die setmaatlose konsep was egter goedkoper as die huidige handmonteringsproses, maar het 'n veel langer terugbetalingstydperk as wat deur die industrie verlang word. Die kompleksiteit en moontlike onsekerhede van die konsep, gepaard met die lang terugbetalingstydperk, dui daarop dat die setmaatlose konsep nie vir die teiken toepassing geskik is nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/1941
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