October 22, 2020 – Elgin, Il — 2020 marks the 6th year MAPP (Manufacturers Association of Plastics Processors) has held the Innovation Awards, which are given at the Annual Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference. The 2020 conference was scheduled to be held in Indianapolis, but as with everything this year, things are a little different and is being held virtually.
MAPP is an organization that brings together plastics professionals from all over the world, giving them the opportunity to connect and share ideas and best practices in an otherwise competitive world. Their mission is to enable leaders within the plastics industry to achieve success. (https://www.mappinc.com/about/)
One of the unique aspects of the Innovation Awards is the submission are peer reviewed and voted on by those peers, indicating which innovation they feel would go the furthest in increasing efficiencies and reducing wasted effort and time.
2020 is the first year Hansen Plastics has entered the Innovation Awards and is very proud to have submitted three innovations for consideration. Two of the three submissions were focused on reducing labor on two specific projects currently running at HPC.
The first innovation reduced labor with the fabrication of an air conveyor system. The previous state required an operator to inspect the parts and then manually transfer the parts to the box on the scale, used to determine part count by weight. In addition to the required labor, parts would sometimes fall onto the floor, leading to waste. An operator station was designed and fabricated by in-house engineering that utilizes a pneumatic line vacuum which conveys the parts from a chute into a large hopper. The hopper will hold the parts until the operator comes by to inspect the parts. If the parts are good they simply open the chute and allow the parts fall into the finished good box. If bad parts are detected, the operator puts the reject box under the hopper and opens the chute. Using 3D printing technology HPC’s engineers also designed a reject diverter which will ensure any out of tolerance parts cannot be accidentally put into the finished goods box. Engineering, Quality and Operators all contributed to this innovate design which has reduced labor by 80% on this project.
The second innovation also focused on labor reduction which was achieved with a Cobot robot. This project requires the insertion of brass bushings into the part and previously used a Fanuc robot and separate camera system to ensure the proper insertion of the bushings. Piece count was manually tracked, using the scale weight to determine the number of parts. With the utilization of the Cobot robot, not only does it move the parts to be in line with the camera, it actually has an integrated camera system, eliminating the need for separate, external cameras. Additionally, the Cobot keeps an accurate count of the parts and will switch to the empty finished goods box once the first one it full. It will also automatically put any parts that are suspect or do not have the bushings properly inserted into the reject bin. The Cobot also has a built in safety system that will detect any force upon the arm and will stop immediately if detected. Further, there are sensors that will detect any non-standard movement near the Cobot and will sound an alarm, eliminating the need for protective barriers and reducing the total machine footprint. This project is now nearly fully automated, with labor being reduced by 98%, allowing HPC’s owner operators to us that labor elsewhere and take on new projects, while maintaining the high quality standards HPC is known for.
The 3rd place winner for the 2020 MAPP Innovation Awards is a project that was already almost fully automated, but HPC wanted to find a way to increase the efficiency of the automation. This project requires degating and milling of the produced parts. To increase efficiency, the degating system was completely redesigned, using larger cutters and the addition of a spring loaded plate that aligns the parts before they come in contact with the cutters. This new design allowed for the installation of an integrated vision inspection system which will detect any holes, cracks or voids in the part before they reach the operator for packaging. Additionally, using 3D printing technology to fabricate the cylinders on the End Of Arm tooling, they were able to reduce the weight of the EOA by 5 pounds which reduces the load on the robot and increases its lifespan. These innovations reduced the robot cycle time by 8%, reduced the wear on the cutters by 78%, saving HPC thousands of dollars in cutter costs in just the three months since its implementation.
To learn more about HPC & the Mapp Innovation Awards, please check out their podcast on YouTube.
To learn more about Hansen Plastics and their capabilities, please visit their website www.hansenplastics.com or call the office at 847-741-4510.