Smartphones and other electronic devices are heavily subject to trends in fashion and technology. For their manufacturers, this means developing new devices to the point of readiness for mass production in less than 12 months and parallel to this buying the appropriate assembly-line equipment. Ever-shorter product cycles are forcing the manufacturers of assembly-line equipment to reduce the time for the development and production of this equipment still further. It is therefore good if they can rely on an experienced automation equipment supplier such as Festo, who can provide ready-to-install system solutions and thus save them a great deal of work.
The manufacturing costs of a Smartphone are well below 50 €, and the devices are required to be available immediately at all times. “This places our customers under double pressure: either production plants must become continuously more cost-effective or they must offer higher output for the same costs,” explains Jens Heiko Adolph, Head of Festo’s Industry Segment Management Electronics and Light Assembly. What is more, machines must be ever more flexible to deal with varying batch sizes. It is also crucial that production plants can be changed over easily from one model to another.
Simplicity is the key
Instead of open-loop-controlled motions, closed-loop control is now dominant in the manufacturing process. Components are becoming smaller and more delicate. “There is thus a demand for more and more electric drive systems which are positionable, adjustable and compact,” continues Adolph.
“Festo therefore aims to offer its customers flexible and space-saving drive solutions,” says Adolph in describing Festo’s approach. Productronics customers bring their applications to Festo, and this manufacturer of electrical and pneumatic automation technology finds suitable ready-to-install solutions, either electrical, pneumatic or a mixture of both types of drive system. “This allows customers to concentrate fully on their core business,” says Adolph.
Workload and costs reduced
For Festo’s customers, this means less work and thus lower costs. Festo’s automation experts assume responsibility for engineering and installation, carry out testing and simplify customers’ administrative tasks with regard to ordering and logistics. For example, ready-to-install handling systems have only one part number and not the large number of part numbers of all their individual automation components.
One outstanding example of an innovative complete solution is the Festo mini H gantry EXCM. In its smallest version, its working area is no larger than a sheet of DIN A4 paper. Its parallel kinematic drive concept ensures low moving masses. The drive and controller package is pre-parameterised to allow fast commissioning.
Simple solutions for complex applications
The gantry EXCM is suitable for use as an automation platform, for example for testing, screwdriving, dosing and various pick and place tasks. The drive system has also been designed to be extremely space-saving, i.e. it allows very large working strokes in relation to the required installation space.
In a more complex handling system, the H gantry is used to inspect new tablet PCs. In another handling system, it handles and transports printed circuit boards and equips these with components. The system also includes new Festo products such as the piston semi-rotary drive DRRD for precise and dynamic movements and the air bearing ATBT for the frictionless feeding of blank PCBs. The pneumatic drives and grippers within the system solution are controlled by compact valves VUVG or a highly flexible CPX terminal with a valve terminal MPA-L.
Further examples of fast, cost-efficient and flexible production and assembly include a solution for gripping, feeding and press-fitting “Pressfit” plugs, another for handling and inspecting components in a very small space using an optimal combination of pneumatic and electronic components, and a third for the precise feeding of electronic components (in this case USB memory sticks) into a test station.