Elscint has developed an automatic stacking & indexing machine for stacking of Chain plates. Various sizes of plates can be stacked in the same machine with some changeover tooling. Chain Plates are having two holes and forks were provided to engage both the holes while stacking. The plates were having a particular number and brand marking only on one side. Elscint utilized a vision camera to check the marking and ensuring that the plates with marking on the top were stacked in one fork while the ones with the marking at the bottom were stacked in another fork.
The equipment was designed for accommodating Chain Plates having size 45 mm length x 20 mm width to plates having size 26 mm length x 10 mm width. This was done by providing proper changeover tooling. The equipment consisted of a Model 400 vibratory bowl feeder (having capacity of 30 kgs), a motorized belt conveyor on which the vision camera was mounted, sorting mechanism and stacking forks mounted on an indexing table. In the vibratory bowl feeder, the chains were oriented in lengthwise direction and were further taken forward on a motorized belt conveyor. The vision camera mounted on the same checked whether the marking was on the top or at the bottom. The ones where the marking was on the top, were pushed into a separate track and stacked onto one set of forks while the ones with the marking at the bottom were taken forward and stacked in another set of forks. In case, any of these forks got full, the conveyor would stop and indexing used to take place. After indexing, the next set of forks would come the stacking position and filling of plates in the forks would restart. The complete equipment was mounted on a single table and controlled by a PLC with the controls provided through a separate MMI. Some plates were having no marking on either side or marking on both the sides. Such plates were pushed into alternate forks. This changeover was done through the MMI, thus requiring minimal operator intervention. The indexing table accommodated 8 sets of forks, thus ensuring the time between loading and removal of plates by the operator was correctly matched with the other equipment in the factory of the customer.
The advantage of this equipment is to eliminate the need of manually checking which side of the plate the marking is present and to stack the plates in a fork for further assembly operation. With the help of this equipment, the plate stacking can be made an off line activity with the forked plates readily available for usage as an when required. Similarly any component having a hole in it like a bearing ring, cage, o-ring, washer etc can be stacked in this machine. You can watch the video of this equipment.