Automated Knurling System 

Midwest Engineered Systems Inc. provided a valve plate knurling machine automated solution for a metal fine blanking company. This robotic integration is used to fully automate the knurling process for a high volume automotive industry application.

The Challenge


  • Machine automation system must be capable of being programmed for four (4) different part numbers

  • Must achieve and automated process speed of one (1) part every 2 seconds

  • The automated work cell must have a compact design to optimize floor space

  • The automated production system must be capable of flipping parts that are loaded up-side-down

  • It must have sensors to detect the radial orientation of a part on the in-feed conveyor to insure correct orientation in dial table nest

  • The system must be able to operate within the high pressure and high forces exerted by the knurling process

  • Built-in quality assurance throughout the knurling and handling process. The automation system must also detect defects on the top & bottom surfaces of the part, such as:

    • Missing features

    • Slug marks

    • Missing holes

    • Missing or additional material

  • The automated production system must have the ability to log part failure information to an operator interface including:

    • Part number

    • Defect type

    • Quantity of each type of defect

    • Time and date stamps


The Solution

After a full evaluation of the project’s challenges and goals, Midwest Engineered Systems designed and built the customer a complete solution, which included:

  • Heavy duty common base for simple install and portability

  • Fanuc LR Mate 200iD industrial robot and R-30iB robot controller with Fanuc 2D robotic vision camera for part orientation identification on in-feed pick-up locations and placement on dial process system

  • Robotic End of Arm Tool

    • Magnetic gripper

    • Sensors

  • In-feed Flip Station with two (2) position shuttle escapement

  • Two (2) TOX 30-ton, air over oil, presses

  • Twelve (12) position, servo driven, dial table

  • Three (3) position, servo driven, out-feed flip station

  • Out-feed conveyor

  • Four (4) camera PPT vision system

  • Control System

    • Electrical enclosure

    • Servo motor control system

    • PLC with EtherNet IP communication

    • Robot to PLC interface

    • Operator HMI display

    • Arc flash compliance

  • Safety system and enclosure with components, programming, and layout per ISO 13849-1:2006 Category 3 safety guidelines and ANSI/RIA R15.06-1999 specifications

  • Complete electrical and mechanical engineering design

  • Midwest engineered systems provided complete robot, vision, PLC, and HMI programming

  • Complete electrical and mechanical fabrication, assembly, and system test

  • On-site installation, start-up, and acceptance testing

  • Technical training be MWES for operators, engineering, and maintenance


​Impact to the Customer


The delivered automated knurling machine provided the customer with process improvements such as:

  • Increased productivity – machine can run 1800 parts/hour

  • Less tooling than previous machine for faster changeover between parts

  • Decreased maintenance – fewer moving parts to wear than previous machine & less tooling to maintain

  • Increased reliability and up-time – Mechanically driven, hard tooled, walking beam replaced with programmable 6-axis servo robot and two (2) programmable servo driven dial tables

  • Increased floor space – MWES Robotic solution requires 20% less floor space

  • Improved quality – Multiple sensors are able to detect failures and immediately notify the operator

  • Failure reporting – Automatic data logging and tracking of failures

For more information on this equipment or other web handling needs please contact MWES.


Midwest Engineered Systems

W238N1800 Rockwood Drive
Waukesha, WI 53188
Call: 414-327-0000

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MWES Automated Knurling System