Design of a low-cost loading/unloading mechanism for processing stations in an automated production environment
A loading/unloading mechanism was designed using the axiomatic design method. The mechanism is a standardized part of a smart factory currently implemented at Fraunhofer Italia research institute on behalf of the DeConPro research project, and as such is specified to fit any processing station. The mechanism is used in conjunction with an automated transport system, which carries standardized transport boxes on rails. The transport systems stop at the processing stations and shall be grabbed by the mechanism subject of this publication and dragged into the processing station, where. Also, the transport boxes must be fixed onto the shuttles of the transport system avoiding drops while moving, which is also part of the design exercise. Inside the processing station, the transport boxes shall be further movable in both directions perpendicular to the direction of the mechanism movement. The mechanism shall build compact especially in depth, and shall also be optimised in cost, as it is a recurring item in all processing stations. The resulting FR/DP decomposition lead to an decoupled design matrix up to second level, which allowed for choosing the right engineering sequence of the functions. The axiomatic design procedure helped considerably in finding the best concept for holding and handling the box. The further engineering steps benefit also considerably by the anticipated trade-off between alternatives for actuator types.