Cost-efficient production of oil coolers
The production of oil and charge air coolers is an elaborate process. The coolers are made up of many different fins, which must be presorted, correctly assembled and soldered. This is a challenging task, but one which three Stäubli FAST Pickers perform with aplomb.
Stringent quality standards apply to the manufacture of these sensitive products at the factory in the Netherlands where zero-error production is required. In order to ensure sustainable and economical production, the plant engineer Z-tech Solutions was commissioned to design and build a robot-assisted assembly and testing line. The main steps in the production of the oil and charge air coolers include die-cutting the fins in different sizes, sorting and assembling procedures, vacuum soldering, fitting the relevant thermostats and connections and testing for leaks as well as labeling, packaging and dispatch. Z-Tech implemented an auto-stacking line, on which the cooler fins are sorted into cassettes in the correct order. This is connected directly to the metal blanking press.
Three FAST picker TP80 robots ensure outstanding performance
The high-speed sorting of the die-cut fins is carried out by three Stäubli TP80 FAST pickers. It is as if the ultra-fast four-axis kinematics were specifically designed for this task, in which the robots pick up the different fins from the conveyor belt and assemble them in a set sequence. All of this calls for maximum dynamics in combination with the highest precision and extended range – precisely the criteria for which Stäubli has created these kinematics.
With the FAST picker TP80, Stäubli entered uncharted territory in terms of construction, effectively redefining the concept of high-speed robotics. This machine can perform well over 200 picks per minute while handling weights of up to 0.1 kilos. The TP80 has been rigorously designed for reliability and precision. With its four axes, it can operate across a large work space (diameter of up to 1.6 meters) with an impressive repeatability of ± 0.05 millimeters.
Reliable compliance with quality standards
The performance values of the three FAST pickers in the auto-stacking application show that they are more than capable of coping with the task. The level of precision required here is ±0.2 millimeters, which is reliably maintained under all conditions. The robots receive information about the exact position of the fins on the conveyor belt via an image processing system. A great deal of expertise has also gone into the specially developed vacuum grippers on the robots – made using the latest in 3D printing technology – which allow the picking and placing to be done at such exceptional speed.
The insertion of the fins into cassettes is then carried out by three Stäubli Type TS60 SCARAs. These classic four-axis robots also score high marks for precision and reliability. One of the last steps in the production process is the vacuum soldering of the now correctly positioned fins, which is carried out in special ovens. Finally, a one-hundred-percent test is carried out, in which the finished coolers are tested for leaks before they are packaged for just-in-time delivery to the automotive manufacturer.
The plant complies with the requirements of an automotive supplier in all respects. The integrated quality assurance ensures that that the zero-defect strategy has been implemented to the letter. At the same time, the plant is also able to meet all production criteria with regard to economy and efficiency, not least thanks to the integration of the three ultra-speedy FAST pickers.