Transfer Case Test and Assembly Line
The Problem: A tier-1 automotive supplier needed a turn-key solution that allowed them to test functionality and perform final processes on a transfer case product line. The end-of-line test systems had to support two different products and be designed to fit within existing infrastructure.
The RedViking Solution: We designed and built an end-of-line transfer case test and assembly cell. This cell included two test stands, robotic part transfer, and integrated final processing conveyors. Additionally, RedViking designed a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) for the entire assembly line, including the RedViking end-of-line test cell.
Automating the Electrical Connection to the Transfer Case
The machine was designed by our engineers to fit within a tight customer specified footprint and handle automated changeover for a mix of products. The process first allows for assembled and oiled parts to arrive from a delivery conveyor into the cell. The part present signal and model type is then communicated via Ethernet to the part transfer robot. Then, the robot actuates the appropriate grippers and picks up the part from the delivery conveyor. In every phase of the design of the cell, decisions were made to maximize cell flexibility and throughput. The robot has dual grippers so it can hold two parts. This way, the robot can unload a tested part with one gripper, flip around, and load a new part from the other gripper without having to take time to travel to a drop off/pick up location in between. The robot EOAT was designed to allow any combination of models in the grippers so changeover between parts is seamless. The Duplicate test stands allows for even more functionality without sacrificing throughput and the system can support varied test profiles based upon model variation or other complexity. This longer test time allows for more functional testing on each part and improves quality assurance of the product for the end user.
Automatic Spline Engagement
Automated tooling designed to engage each transfer case both mechanically and electrically allows each test stand full control of all test article functions. As the robot delivers the part, clamps seat it in place, the splines extend forward and spin slightly until they can slide into full seated positions, accelerometers extend to their proper locations, and an electrical connector slides into place and plugs in. Large slides inside the test stand allow for flexibility in positioning of the driveline shafts for both seamless changeover between models and a significantly reduced cost to integrate a new model in the future. Finally, the robot interfaces with the test stand to load and unload parts, connect to the test article, and the test executive runs the dynamic test and saves the results all without the need of any human intervention. Depending on the results of the test, the robot unloads the part to one of two conveyors for final assembly checks or rework.
Automated Load, Unload and Real-Time Changeover Between Products
Parts are automatically loaded and switching between part types is seamless eliminating downtime from part changeover.
Vsync™ Detailed Reporting
RedViking’s proprietary Vsync platform includes all of the fundamentals needed to run the dynamic testing software system. The test executive includes a highly configurable sequence editor which allows engineers to change the sequence without software code changes. With manual and automatic control, the user can see an overview of the unit under test, trend screens, have access to basic user management, access active alarm views, and see maintenance tracking tools.
RedViking also provided a turn-key MES solution to run both the main assembly line and our end-of-line test and related systems. Our solution provides functionality including recipe download to each line PLC, full component and batch level traceability, customer serial-number generation and hand-off of part characterization data from the RedViking test system, to the end-customers manufacturing systems, enabling each car’s calibration to be tuned based upon data collected during our test cycles. Our MES solution provides for part validation and gate-checking at each operation and at the final pack-out station. Our customer is able to use this system to find any part based upon an incoming serial number, search for all units produced with a batch of parts, and trend process data from any of the machine parameters.
Though we offer our own Argonaut platform to manage, this customer preferred us to use their existing MES platform to integrate the line. Our manufacturing execution systems team worked with our customer to develop a custom part tracking software for the line within their existing framework which tracks each part through the full assembly/test process and builds each part a birth certificate. Our configurable apps architecture with an innovative and flexible edge-of-network IIoT device securely connects your plant and allows you to deploy and control it from any location. When new parts/processes are added to the line, the app can be easily reconfigured.
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