Semiautomatic benchtop stripping and terminal press machine are a staple for each harness assembly shop. They’re great for high-mix, low-volume wire processing applications. But, if you have to produce thousands of identical crimped wires in a shift, you want a fully automatic cutting, stripping and crimping system.
Fully automatic machines are far faster plus more consistent than semiautomatic equipment. They could combine multiple operations in a single setup and automatically separate rejected leads.
Automatic equipment removes the human element from high-volume wire processing applications, while improving quality and reducing costs. As an illustration, state-of-the-art automatic crimping machines can process wires at rates above 4,000 pieces each hour with absolute precision as well as in-process inspections.
Alternatively, manual crimping is vulnerable to variations by the operator, like prematurely positioning a wire in to a terminal before crimping, causing mistakes and bad quality. Automatic machines eliminate this variation.
“Fully automatic machines need fewer operators to perform the identical tasks,” says Erich Moeri, manager of applications engineering at Komax Corp. “Therefore, they are better. Generally, you will spend less on floor area. There’s less equipment and you can eliminate some intermediate storage, including the must store precut wires.
“Fully automatic machines will also supply a higher quality product, because of the integrated quality checks,” adds Moeri. “In addition, they give a significantly higher output.”
“Wire harness shops are capable of doing more utilizing the same level of human resources,” notes Rich Schwartz, vice president of engineering at Schaefer Megomat USA Inc. “Fully automatic machines also allow shops to visit after more and larger jobs. Sometimes, a unit could pay money for itself inside a year.”
That’s important, because going from semi- to completely automatic equipment requires a big investment. While semiautomatic wire processing equipment can run $15,000 to $30,000, fully automated machines average $50,000 to $75,000. Engineers must avoid falling in the trap between machine capability and actual use in the plant floor.
Since today’s machines are engineered with quick change-overs in your mind, most experts believe there exists a spot for fully automatic equipment in high-mix, low-volume wire processing applications.
As an example, Komax provides a machine especially for that. “The Zeta 633 crimping machine features a wire sequencer option where you could have 36 different wires ready on the tube cutter always,” Moeri indicates. “Changing wire is carried out through the click of your mouse.”
Engineers at many equipment suppliers have designed several quick-change features inside their machines to significantly lower set-up time. Artos Engineering Co. recently unveiled the Cr.22, which could tackle an array of applications, including weather sealing, crimping, twisting and tinning. As the machine are equipped for low-volume runs requiring multiple change outs during production, additionally, it can accommodate high-volume runs.
“Diversity in production is vital,” says John Olsen, president of Artos Engineering. “Today, customers want options and adaptability.
“The factor to justifying an investment inside an automatic system is to help keep the machine producing parts as efficiently as you can with minimal downtime,” explains Olsen. “Older automatic machines could take as much as 20 minutes to set up and alter from one job to a different.
“This was acceptable in the event the machine could process a huge number of wire at any given time and run for many hours from your initial set-up,” adds Olsen. “However, if a customer would like to have a few hundred pieces and alter to another one job, that quantity of change-with time negates productivity.”
With quick-change carts, sensors that track wire core size, and servo-driven technology, fully automatic machines can be put in place in just seconds vs. minutes. Most new-generation machines provide built-in quality checking features, which happens to be important for wire harness shops doing automotive-related applications.
“These varieties of customers are looking for machines that provide the highest variety of fully integrated quality checks,” says Moeri. “We offer equipment where operators start with downloading ‘jobs’ from an enterprise resource planning system and view material on the machine utilizing a bar code scanner for process verification.
“Product quality concerns can be addressed by automatic crimp height measurements, crimp height adjustments, pull-force monitors and seal position analyzers,” Moeri points out. “Afterwards, they can search for feedback in the product made by automatically uploading critical information returning to the ERP system. That addresses traceability issues.”
User-friendly controls and software make all of that possible. For example, Schleuniger Inc.’s new CrimpCenter 36 S boasts efficient motor programming and internal Ethernet communication along with a maximum feed rate of 8 meters per second. In addition, it incorporates a touch-screen monitor and intuitive operating software.
“The combination makes programming simple enough in order that even novice operators quickly feel relaxed,” says Gustavo Garcia-Cota, crimping product manager. “Standard TCP/IP protocol permits easy machine networking. The optional EASY ProductionServer software helps optimize order processing and allows engineers to observe and gather valuable production data from practically around the globe.”
As wire gets smaller and smaller, it gets more challenging to deal with. That will undoubtedly spur more investment in fully automatic equipment that could easily grip thin wire.
“Machines designed with powerful servo motors and optimized programming in the process axes offer precise and fast motion sequences,” says Schwartz.
His company recently unveiled copper wire stripper that that could process wire as small as .08 millimeter squared.
“The Megomat 1000 has an unusually large range of wire cross sections which can be processed,” claims Schwartz. “It are designed for as much as AWG 8 wire. And, the arrangement in the cutting blades dexjpky35 for very short wire overhangs.”
A software-controlled, adjustable wire guide system eliminates the application of tubes at the gripper. The programmable gripper jaw openings are automatically adjusted. “A large, two-side enabled swing radius of both gripper arms provides flexibility in realizing different applications,” says Schwartz.
However, no matter how much they embrace fully automatic equipment, most wire harness shops will have to keep a few manual and semiautomatic machines accessible. Applications involving cables, large-gauge wire, twisted-pair leads and shielded wires consistently demand some of those tools.