Reliable Mass Production of Brake Light Switches
Stäubli Robotics Posted 07/26/2013
The production of eight million brake light switches annually is subject to its own set of priorities. Flexibility is less important here than other factors such as maximisation of output and reliability of process. A pioneering plant with a highly productive injection moulding machine and two ultra-precise robots as key components is taking care of those jobs where cycle time is critical.
When a car manufacturer nowadays relies on just one provider for the mass production of a component, that amounts to both an honour and a responsibility for the chosen supplier. Body Control Systems (BCS), a subsidiary of worldwide automotive supplier TRW, is responsible for the production of eight million brake light switches annually for the Volkswagen Group.
Since June 2011, an installation by automation expert M.A.i. GmbH has been handling this job. An injection moulding machine is at the heart of the cell. Four contact pins per brake light switch are moulded using an eight-way machine tool. There are just 5.7 seconds during ‘tool-open time’ when all loading and unloading operations have to be completed.
The production process begins with the feeding of two different-sized contacts via two stamping lines. A Stäubli Scara TS60 first fetches four short and then four long contacts from the appropriate transfer station on the stamping line and passes them to a buffer store. The ultra-fast, ultra-precise Scara performs this task with aplomb. Eight trips are necessary to completely fill the buffer with a total of 32 contacts.
While the Scara places contact pins in the buffer, the big six-axis robot serves the injection moulding machine.
Masterpiece of automation
This buffer is situated within the working range of the large Stäubli six-axis robot. From here, the RX160 picks up the 32 contact pins and embarks on a cycle that has been optimised down to the last detail. The programme allows precisely 5.7 seconds for the loading and unloading of the injection moulding machine.
Stäubli is a mechatronics solution provider with three dedicated divisions: textile machinery, connectors and robotics. With a workforce of 4000, Stäubli has a presence in 25 countries and agents in 50 countries around the world.