The potential for separation and misalignment of components during manufacture of Kenwood water filters, has been overcome by the design and construction of an automatic rotary indexing machine from Aylesbury Automation Limited. In addition the new assembly process has increased productivity and product quality standards.
Kenwood Limited, a household name in over 80 countries and a leading manufacturer of houseware and kitchen appliances, had indentified production inefficiences in the assembly processes of its water filter range. The principal difficulty was the tendancy of the filter element to separate from the top moulding between the time they were placed and welded. This in turn led to misalignment of the components and high rates of product rejection - between two and three percent - at final assembly stage. Component separation was also having a significant negative effect on the efficiency of the whole assembly line as it slowed down production.
Working with plastic moulding specialist, Hilton Engineering, automation specialists at Aylesbury Automation Ltd reviewed the manufacturing process in order to design a 'next generation' assembly machine which would overcome the difficulties and reduce the component rejection rate. The solution was the design and construction of an AA6 automatic rotary indexing machine which presents and welds the components at the same work station, thereby eliminating the risk of their detachment or misalignment.
The plastic moulded filter tops are fed from a vibration parts feeder, which by its design presents them in the correct orientation to a vibrating linear track. A pneumatic pick and place device then transfers the tops to a fixture located on the rotary indexing dial.
The filter material is fed from a reel and a twin gripper arrangement maintains tension transferring the material inline through the press sequence and over the fixture position. The paper filter element is formed within the strip and retained by four small contact points. On each index of the machine, the filter is advanced and presented below the ultrasonic welding cone to be attached to the filter top moulding, simultaneously severing the attachment points. UV light technology combined with a built-in camera provides detailed quality checks, confirming the filter position within the top moulding and the integrity of the weld.
The benefits of the new process are considerable. The previous machine - which had been in operation for ten years and suffered from inherent design shortcomings - had become worn with the passage of time making accurate precision welding of the component difficult. Manual intervention and quality checking had become a frequent feature of the production process. With Aylesbury Automation's help Kenwood has achieved improved production time and raised quality standards. Furthermore an extra set of grippers in the production line has significantly reduced the amount of wasted filter material.
"This has been a very clear demonstration of the benefits of investment in good technology. Aylesbury Automation engineers completely understood our problems and strove not just to improve what was fast becoming a failing process, but also brought us added benefits of speed and quality," said Darren Prosser of Kenwood Limited. "It proves that if you are prepared to invest in the best possible tools for the job, you will reap the rewards both in cost-saving and improved products."
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