Machine vision robotic solution for automated assembly line

30 December 2021

When METAL LS, a Bulgarian manufacturer of door locking systems, door and window handles and building hardware, started planning a new automated assembly of door locks in 2019, it quickly identified that the robotic systems it already used for other applications were too large for the planned production site.

New robotic solutions for the site needed to be as compact and precise as possible. Door and security locks are precision parts with standard dimensions and components stipulated in DIN standards. Therefore, quality and precision were important deciding factors for the company. In addition, the robots needed to achieve high productivity – assembling between 10 and 14 locks every minute. Another requirement was a high level of flexibility so that the robots could be quickly retooled to adapt the production line for other types of locks, if required. 

Following a comparison of various manufacturers and products, METAL LS opted for a robot system from Delta, which was able to offer a complete solution including programmable logic controllers (PLC), a human-machine interface (HMI), servo systems and robotic arms with machine vision.

For implementation of this project, METAL LS and Delta collaborated to develop a custom workstation for assembly of the mechanical door lock components. The main part of the system comprises a rotation table, on which seven six-axis articulated robots are installed. The robots are capable of precise, quick movements and feature a hollow wrist that allows them to be combined with the correct tool for each production step. The HMI is used to visualise all processes and enables the user to select various receipts for different locks via a touch screen. It also displays system information and alerts or alarms. The PLC monitors the assembly line, controls the servo drive. Two machine vision image processing systems, equipped with cameras, are installed to localise components on the conveyor and send accurate signals to the robot allowing it to pick up and assemble the parts. 

A few adjustments to the parameter settings were sufficient to quickly overcome initial communication problems between the PLC, robot and the machine vision system. The careful preparation and system configuration also ensured that all of the Delta industrial automation (IA) products were soon integrated into the production processes.

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