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Automating core setting reduces labor, injury.

As one of the world's largest suppliers of exhaust manifolds for cars and light trucks, Wescast Industries decided to automate the core handling at its North Huron Casting Facility in Wingham, Ontario, Canada, to remain competitive in the global market. Through automation, the company wanted to reduce labor costs and improve the consistency and performance of the process.

Wescast worked with Robotec Engineering GmbH, Bad Sackingen, Germany, to integrate the core-setting automation, which begins at the core wash drying oven. The cores are conveyed on a steel mesh conveyor belt through the oven to dry the core wash. An overhead vision system tracks the core location and type and passes the information on to the robot, which is equipped with a simple stroke, adjustable, two-finger picking gripper. The robot grips each core on the core print, transferring and placing it onto a flat tray. Two robotic core oven cells process the washed cores.

Full trays are kept in a storage and retrieval system that stores the cores by part number and supplies them to a robotic core setting cell. An overhead vision system provides the core location to two robots, which use the same two-finger picking gripper as the core wash cell. The robot picks the cores from the tray and transfers them to a staging nest fixture, which locates the cores as they are located inside the mold.

Each robot automatically changes their nest tooling or vacuum mask tooling with one of nine sets stored within the cell.

After each picker robot loads four cores into the nest, the coresetting robot uses a vacuum mask to locate and hold the cores in place on the core print area exposed to the upper mold half above the parting line. The robot moves over the indexing horizontally-parted molding machine, placing the cores by aligning the vacuum mask pins with the flask bushings. The vacuum gripper provides x- and y-axis compliance on the connection between the six-axis robot and gripper, which compensates for lower mold half position differences.

The resulting automation eliminated six positions over three eight-hour shifts at Wescast. Core setting scrap was eliminated, and fork truck traffic and job-related injuries were reduced.


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Title Annotation:New Product
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Oct 1, 2008
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