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Assembly Observed

Here are an assortment of items related to assembly technology...

Sticking at Indy

Behind the hot rod is the car that was driven by Scott Goodyear in this year's Indianapolis 500. Goodyear finished second.

The point of the photo?

Well, according to Chuck Evans, general manager, Loctite Automotive, "For the past 25 years, all carts competing in the Indy 500, including every winner [Goodyear's team mate, Arie Luyendyk, won this year's race in a similar G-Force chassis and Aurora engine package], have been assembled with Loctite products throughout their engines, transmissions, electronic systems, and frames." Among the 70-some applications on an Indy car: liquid gaskets and sealants in engines and transmissions, fuel lines, brakes and cooling systems; bonding materials in sensors, connectors and fittings; thread lockers in engine blocks, rocker covers, and transmission ring gears; and adhesives for moldings, rubber strips, and other composite components. All of which, of course, are applicable to cars that travel at less than 200+ miles per hour.

 

Accurate Assembling

Putting together components with a press and need to know whether the process is operating as it should? If so, check out the Assembly Monitoring System (AMS) developed by Promess Inc. (Brighton, MI). It is an in-process system capable of determining such things as: tight or loose fit, part misalignment, wrong part, no part, and full depth exceeded or not reached. The system includes force and position sensors that are fitted to the press ram. There is a taught profile of what a correct assembly operation looks like based on the feedback from the sensors; the obtained profile during operations is compared against the model and determines whether the task has been done right.

 

Achieving Better Sealing

In a search for improved sealing characteristics under the surfaces of both nut and washer and screw and washer assemblies, specifically for fasteners used to assemble passenger car trunk lids, Tim Rossiter, a GM fastener engineer, investigated the applicability of plastisol, a liquid vinyl dispersion that's fused by externally applied heat. He worked with Andy Lewis, a plastisol specialist at ND Industries (Troy, MI). They determined that a 0.0016-in. layer of soft plastisol applied to the underside of washer assemblies provides improved sealing and torquing characteristics. The material is applied to the fasteners. A thickness accuracy of ±0.002 in. can be maintained at high production rates. An initial program consisting of 1.2-million fasteners has been initiated.

 

For Smaller, Non-Sync Assembly

Whether it's manual or automatic assembly, a trend nowadays is for non-synchronous, pallet-based operations. Bosch Automation Products (Buchanan, MI) has added a smaller conveyor to its line of assembly conveyors that meet the needs of that trend: the TS 1. This is a modular system that's based on an aluminum frame; there are an assortment of transfer, positioning and control modules that can be selected as needed; there are 90-deg. and 180-deg. curves that help reduce control costs and improve system cycles.

The TS 1 moves pallets with a dual-belt system rated at 80 kg per drive module; pallets are available in three sizes: 80, 120 and 160 mm. The load-carrying capability per pallet is up to 3 kg.

 

An Assembly Alternative

"Lower assembly costs, weight savings, fewer penetrations, with equal or better holding power than mechanical fasteners."
What is this person describing?

Would you believe mounting tape?

The quote is made by Geoff King, product manager, Norton Performance Plastic Corp.'s Foams, Films and Laminate Group (Wayne, NJ).

Tape for automotive applications typically consists of a resilient polyurethane foam that's coated with an aggressive acrylic adhesive on both sides (a liner keeps the tape inactive until peeled off). The foam is closed-cell. Which means each cell is isolated so nothing passes from one to the other. This provides both weather resistance and vibration damping.

An important characteristic of the tape for joint strength is suppleness: "Assuming clean surfaces," King says, "the secret to higher joint strength is the tape conformability."

One vehicle producer that's using Normount tape from Norton is PL Custom Emergency Vehicles (Masaquan, NJ). It initially used welds. Then adhesives. And now tape is being used to join the vehicle cargo body to the frame. About 500 linear feet of closed-cell urethane tape is used per vehicle. Benefits of moving to the tape include a boost in the effective production capacity of ambulances and rescue vehicles by 25%.

Tape is beginning to find increased use in the fabrication of truck trailers: to attach reinforcing ribs onto the back sides of large exterior panels. By using tape instead of mechanical fasteners, assembly costs are said to be reduced and corrosion sites at the joining points are eliminated.

 

Better Control

Plug-and-play connections for ease of installation and setup. Windows. High-data transfer...

No, we're not talking about a new PC. Rather, these are some of the characteristics of the Intellect control system developed by Ingersoll-Rand Fastener Tightening Systems (Farmington Hills, MI) for controlling, monitoring, and reporting operations of single- or multiple spindle powerhead units for tightening threaded fasteners.

The system features an integrated design that combines all necessary electronics in a single package, including an on-board power supply for the motor and logic, an industrial-rated CPU and hard drive, and a diagnostic serial port. This single package reduces floor space requirements and helps increase system reliability and maintainability (R&M), according to Ingersoll-Rand.

The system can be setup with whatever man-machine interface is required: CRT and keyboard; two-line displays with keypads, touch screens, etc.

And the software can be upgraded as required to obtain the levels of control required.