This client was a Process Development group within a large medical device company, responsible for automating the manufacturing process of a new stent graft product.
The client requested multiple automated workcells to perform a critical assembly process for the new product, where each workcell would accommodate a slightly different variation of the client’s product line. The process required insertion to a user-defined force, with continuous monitoring of critical parameters during the insertion such as speed, force, and distance. If any of the parameters are detected outside of user-defined limits, the systems would need to alarm and prompt the operator to reject the part. In addition, the client requested that the process data be logged to a flash drive, for offline engineering evaluation.
The systems were to be installed in an operating plant environment, and therefore the client desired the look and feel of system interface closely match existing systems. Finally, the client requested a means of verifying that the proper variations of infeed materials were used, and matched a product identification number in the batch paperwork.
CKC Automation designed and built five automated workcells per the client’s specifications. A load cell monitored the force while a servo motor driven actuator carried out the assembly process by moving at user-adjustable speed and distances, with the last segment of the cycle continuing until a precise force had been reached, or if alarm limits were exceeded.
The system utilized a touch screen HMI to display process data and trend screens, and archive the data to a flash drive. A software design review was held during development in order to ensure the screens and sequence of operations were in line with expectations. The HMI allowed Lead and Engineering level users to program and select between multiple recipes, which were each customized for different product families.
A barcode scanner and a series of selectable fields on the HMI screen allowed for user-friendly and error-proof scanning of the multiple materials being assembled. The machine provided visual prompts of what component to scan next, and would not allow cycle start unless all components were scanned in and compatibility matched a pre-programmed internal lookup table.
The multiple machines were successfully tested and delivered, and ultimately deployed to multiple manufacturing plants around the globe. The systems allowed the client to scale up their manufacturing while at the same time improving product quality and enabling the monitoring of critical process parameters throughout production.