Automated Assembly Line with AGVs

Project summary

MWES provided an industrial agriculture equipment manufacturer with an assembly line that utilizes AGVs to manufacture planting row units.

The Challenge

Not all assembly operations can be performed by robots. This firm contracted us to integrate a modernized manual assembly line with world-class operator ergonomics to increase assembly efficiency while delivering comprehensive quality tracking for a new product. The goals of the project were to increase the throughput with fewer workers, without causing additional physical or injuries stress. Cycle time analysis, pre-build testing, and evaluations of various material handling techniques were reviewed. The pros and cons for various paths were reviewed with the customer and eventually led us to the AGVs for transporting the 425 lb. assemblies from workstation to workstation.

The Solution

MWES integrated a modernized and complete assembly line process that utilizes twelve automated guided vehicles (AGVs) that mount and transport the assemblies between ten workstations. At each station, a worker performs the necessary assembly functions before sending the AGV to the next station in the assembly sequence.

The assembly line utilizes many different systems and features.

  • Jervis Webb 100TT Smart Cart AGV System – The 12 smart carts support parts on each unit and automatically travel from station to station. Each cart’s workspace automatically adjusts in height between stations based on the height of the next operator and the work zone of the assembly. The carts are set to travel on magnetic tape and are equipped with safety scanners. Each cart is also equipped with a “lazy Susan” style device that allows the part to be accessed from all sides without the operator moving.
  • GCI Load Balancing Manipulators – This feature cancels out the weight of the torque reaction arm or the manipulator arm making vertical control intuitive.
  • Atlas Copco Torque Tools – Monitoring and controlling tightening operations using electric assembly tools.
  • SCHMIDT Presses – Torque motors are used for fast and precise movement and positioning tasks, making high forces possible.
  • Loading Station – Heavy part loading station with a supermarket-based loading of subcomponents.
  • Assembly Stations – Lift-assist mechanism for torque tools with angle versus distance feedback for quality control.
  • Operator Hand Tool Stations – Programmable tool stations verify the operator assembly sequence when the tool is removed from the cradle.
  • Part Unload Station – A quality control checkpoint equipped with a large assembly operator assist crane.
  • Controls System – PLC-based control infrastructure controls the motion and path of the cart while verifying the correct assembly sequence and fastener torque control for each assembly. Operator push buttons, control system interface, safety interface and integration with AGV Smart Cart system. 
  • Safety Features – Safety system engineered with factory safety coordinator reference ISO standards and Factory Mutual for the safest working environment.
  • Process Testing and Installation – All equipment was set up in the MWES facility for production trial runs and testing before installation. Final runoff testing was conducted at the customer’s site to ensure the system met all requirements.

Impact to the Customer

The final modernized assembly line with AGVs provided our customer with a reduced cycle time of less than 90 seconds at each station (down from 135 seconds), a 50% reduction in labor, and increased quality and consistency of the finished products. Additionally, the assembly line was built with the Muri, Muda, and Mura standards for ergonomic and wasted motion implementation. This all culminates into an intuitive and logical assembly process that reduces training time and process verification ensures a quality assembly every time.

Midwest Engineered Systems has a wide range of experience in building assembly lines utilizing AGVs and modernization practices. If you’re looking to improve your assembly line throughput, we have the knowledge and experience to make the project a success.

Contact us to learn how Midwest Engineered Systems can automate even your most complex and challenging operations today!

Innovation Through Automation

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