MetalForming Live on the Shop Floor—Robots Working in Metal Forming OperationsFebruary 27, 2023
Late last year, metal former Clips & Clamps, Plymouth, MI, fired up a new multi-robot production cell—by far the biggest and most ambitious automation project ever undertaken by the nearly 70-yr.-old company —that the firm expects to soon pump out 3.5 million automotive-interior assemblies/yr. If you’re even a little excited to see this three-robot six-process cell in action, you’ll join the MetalForming magazine team for an up-close look when we present Metal-Forming LIVE on the Shop Floor, April 25, 2:00 p.m. ET. Register at www.metalformingmagazine.com/event/?/metalforming-live.
Senior editor Lou Kren and I are excited to bring the magazine’s pages to life with this interactive, online event—90 min. of in-plant videos, interviews with plant managers and an expert-panel discussion that includes questions from the audience.
Oh, and there’s a lot more, as attendees will get two plant tours for the price of one, as we’ll also feature a press-tending robot at work in the pressroom of Sukup Manufacturing Co., Sheffield, IA. There, a six-axis Yaskawa Motoman robot destacks blanks and tends to two stamping presses to produce flooring supports for use in grain-storage operations.
“Here’s a fun stat,” Steve Sukup, company president and chief executive officer, told MetalForming for a March 2022-issue article: “Since we brought in our first robot in the 1990s, we’ve more than tripled our employment. It’s not a case where robots take jobs away, they just allow people to better utilize their skills.”
Case Study One: Automated Cell
First up on our online, virtual tour: The automated lean cell at Clips & Clamps performing a series of value-added processes, including wire forming, cold heading, coining, piercing, stamping, resistance-spot welding and machine-vision inspection.
“We added this cell to the operation late in 2022,” shares Craig Rice, Clips & Clamps’ director of manufacturing, “to automate a process that if performed manually would have led to an inordinate amount of work in process, as well as a taken up considerably more floor space.”
The cell is designed to produce four parts—two sizes of similarly configured wire forms in right- and left-hand configurations.
“One of the biggest challenges we faced,” shares Rice, “as this is the first time we’ve integrated a robot cell as complex as this one—involved capturing the wire form in the stamping die used to coin and pierce the wire ends. The wire pieces are fairly long and flexible, so we had to design the process and tooling to enable the robot to repeatedly locate the parts. At first we over-constrained the die, so the learning curve was discovering what needed to be constrained to make the process work, and we were able to implement mechanical locators in the coin and pierce tooling running in the stamping press.”
Rice, along with company president Jeff Aznavorian and Tom Christofilis, founder and president of IP Automation, the system integrator that designed and built the cell, will sit with Lou and me to discuss the project, so get your questions ready!