Solutions from Afag - Case Study

Supply from a single source

Handling specialist Afag has developed an all-in-one solution for the automated supply of insert components for a plastic injection molding machine. Instead of making the material for series production available manually, the handling system, including the feeding units, linear technology and grippers, has been installed upstream from an injection molding machine that produces battery supports for passenger cars.

>> See here the complete application video

A company that manufactures automobile battery supports has recently installed an Afag handling system that automatically supplies insert components to an injection molding machine. Previously, these insert components had been supplied either manually or semi-automatically. Now, with the new supplying system, the user enjoys significant efficiency and productivity. Here is another benefit: The system comes completely from a single source – in other words, it is pure Afag. The plastics company therefore only has one contact partner and was able to start using the injection molding machine immediately after its installation and integration.     

There are both left-hand and right-hand variants available for the battery supports that are to be manufactured. The job of the Afag solution is to ensure the process-reliable supply of the necessary insert components via four feeds – two of which are classic spiral conveyors for the threaded bushes and bolts, while the other two are insertion channels for specially molded support plates. Up to 120 plates each are stacked in both of these magazines – each for the left-hand and right-hand variants – while a pneumatic Afag CS module, which is a linear module featuring a carrier, removes the plates picked up individually by the gripper system at the lower end of the magazine.

Triple gripper for collision-free parts handling

The heart of the system is a true technical highlight: Afag’s designers have equipped an electric XYZ axis with a triple gripper that picks up all insert components from each feed one after the other, and then deposits them in the correct position on carrier plates. A vacuum bellow suction gripper on a pneumatic linear unit picks up the individual threaded bolts, an additional one removes the support plates from the right-hand and left-hand magazines, and a pneumatic parallel gripper then collects the threaded bolts from the feed. This technical gimmick of installing the triple gripper unit on an axis guarantees a smooth, collision-free parts handling process.

The handling unit reliably and accurately positions all parts one after the other on the right-hand or left-hand plates. Every 56 seconds, both cavities of the injection molding machine are equipped with a threaded bush, four threaded bolts and a support plate for the left-hand variant, while just a support plate is equipped for the right-hand variant.

No conversions required for different variants

Due to the tight spatial conditions at the injection molding machine, the loading axis had to cover a relatively long distance. Afag has now solved this issue with the pneumatic PMP02 axis featuring a stroke length of three meters. Another unique feature of this handling system is that it requires no additional preparation work if the pedals are changed; this is because the support plates are fed via two specially designed magazines that can be adjusted to a variety of different geometries.

The engineers designed the supplying system according to the customer’s own specifications and subjected it to rigorous testing at Afag’s premises in Hardt. It has since been delivered to the customer and subsequently commissioned. The aim is to manufacture 300,000 battery supports every year. Following the final acceptance, the operating and maintenance personnel were provided with the required training. Even after the project is complete, Afag will continue to support you with the services you need.

User benefit: Supplying system from a full-service provider

As a manufacturer of premium components and specialist for automated handling solutions, Afag has the technological competence to supply rotary and gripper units, feeding systems and linear modules from a single source. 40 million cycles are guaranteed for each component. This ensures reliable, high-quality complete systems with a minimum number of third-party components that can be directly integrated for an automated supply to the injection molding machine. In turn, plastics processors benefit from being able to provide their customers with complete systems that have been fully tailored to their own individual requirements.

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Complete system for supplying insert components into the injection molding machine with a total of four feeding units. (Image: Afag)
Linear feeding unit for threaded bolts and bushes. (Image: Afag)
Classic parts sorting of the threaded bolts and bushes with spiral conveyors. (Image: Afag)
A pneumatic parallel gripper handles the threaded bushes. (Image: Afag)
The complete system for the automatic feeding of insert components into the injection molding machine. (Image: Afag)
The complete handling system featuring the energy supply and cable routing. (Image: Afag)