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VOLUME -22 NUMBER 8
Publication Date: 08/1/2007
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Components & Disty
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August 2007 Issue
Components & Disty
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Flexible Wire and Cable Assembly Automation
Highly versatile TransferModule 6000.
By Pete Doyon, Vice President, Product Management
In an effort to reduce costs and increase quality, cable assembly shops are demanding flexible and reliable wire processing automation systems for their high volume jobs. Typical high volume cable assemblies include coaxial, round or flat multiconductor cables as well as plastic and glass optical fiber cables. Typical markets served include automotive, telecom, industrial and consumer. One problem with most automation systems is that they are usually custom built to automate the assembly of a particular cable. These custom built systems cannot be easily changed to accommodate different cable assemblies within the same product family and most likely cannot be utilized to assemble a completely different cable. Another problem with dedicated custom built systems is that the user cannot simply integrate it with existing wire processing equipment. Custom built systems are usually purpose-built and are not compatible with any existing wire processing equipment.
To solve this problem, Schleuniger has developed an automation platform known as the TransferModule 6000 or "TM6000". The idea behind the TM6000 was to offer an upgrade path to automation for existing PowerStrip 9500 machine owners. The PowerStrip 9500 is an automatic cutting and stripping machine which measures, cuts and strips wire or cable. Now it's possible to transfer a wire or cable from a PowerStrip 9500 to the TM6000 and have it move down the line to additional processing stations.
The new machine closes the gap between standard wire processing machines and custom-built automation systems. By offering an economical upgrade path, customers can simply add on to their existing wire processing lines to automate the rest of their cable assembly process.
One key feature of the TM6000 is the ability to configure individual processing steps according to specific production requirements. The basic TM6000 has the following main components: cable inlay station, transfer shuttles mounted on a transfer chain, and a cable unloading station. The length of the TM6000 system can be increased in standard increments and is selected based on how many processing stations are required and the space required for each. The individual processing stations can be off-the-shelf or custom built units depending on the required functions. They can be combined to form a semi- or fully-automated system.
Some of the typical processes include stations for cable marking (inkjet or hotstamp), cable coiling and binding, jacket or inner conductor stripping/slitting, conductor trimming, conductor separation, terminal crimping, weather seal installation, conductor twisting, fluxing/tinning, connector component feeding and assembly as well as electrical and mechanical testing. Finished cable assemblies are sorted according to the results of the quality tests. Additional processing stations can be developed and added upon request.
High process reliability is achieved by implementing standard semi-automatic processing stations whenever possible. The complete installation is very compact, requiring a minimum of production space and can, if necessary, be extended in length with additional modules. Despite the compact design, each station of the system can be monitored and accessed easily. Cables up to 0.315-in. (8mm) OD, stranded wire up to 4 AWG and solid conductors up to 10 AWG can be processed. Cable lengths ranging from 6-in. (for processing only one end) to 12-in. (without coiling binding option) can be processed. The TM6000 operation is controlled through an integrated PC running FlexSoft software or offline via a LAN connection. A PLC coordinates the process activities and ensures a constant reproducible quality. Each processing station has its own individual control unit.
Transfer shuttles on transfer chain move the cables to different processing stations.
Parallel processing allows for high productivity with maximum precision and accuracy. The transfer chain conveys the cables gently from processing station to processing station. Depending on the processing requirements, the transfer chain can be equipped with different transfer shuttles. Shuttles are available with movements in the X, X and Y or X, Y and Z axes. Their selection depends on how the cables must be presented to the individual processing stations. This flexibility allows the processing of a wide variety of cable types in a wide range of cable diameters and lengths.
For automatic assembly of coaxial connectors according to FAKRA standard, various processing steps have to be carried out. These steps can be automated on the TM6000 and will run in parallel for maximum production output.
Here is the processing sequence:
Multi-step stripping of the coaxial cable.
Feeding and installation of metal sleeve onto cable.
Flaring of the braided shield.
Crimping of terminal onto inner conductor.
Feeding and installation of connector body.
Positioning and crimping of metal sleeve.
During parallel processing operations, the speed and capacity of the Electrical testing (for example: short circuit test of shield to line is given by the slowest processing station.
The most time-consuming process step is the rotary stripping of the coaxial cable. Approximately 7 seconds are required for a 3-step strip; therefore the production rate for the line is just over 500 cable assemblies/hr.
Key Features of the TransferModule 6000:
Expandable, allowing customers to add one or several automatic processing steps to their existing wire processing equipment line.
High productivity through parallel processing of the different processing steps.
High flexibility in reconfiguring the equipment to changing production requirements.
High process reliability through the use of standard machines for the individual processing steps whenever possible.
The TransferModule 6000 offers highly improved efficiency over conventional automation systems and a short return on investment. It has the potential to decrease the cable assembly unit cost, thereby boosting profit and competitiveness in the cable assembly business.
For more information, contact: Schleuniger, 87 Colin Dr., Manchester, NH 03103
603-668-8117 fax: 603-668-8119 Web:
See at ATE Booth #1007.
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