Mastering the art of workcell development for Rimrock

A robot inside a workcell executes a beautifully choreographed dance—one that requires efficiency, flow and all the right tooling. Design Central dove into each of those elements for Rimrock Corporation. The automation technology company tapped us to help them optimize the use of a single robot in a workcell that would prepare motorcycle wheel hubs for final finishing. Our primary focus was the detailed design and engineering of the robot’s end-of-arm tool and all surrounding stands and fixtures. In order to move seamlessly from task to task, the robot needed multiple grips on its arm, and the stations needed to set the robot up for success by aligning parts and supporting each movement. Understanding the many nuances of automation design and engineering is crucial in a project like this. Factoring them into each step is an art we savor.

  • Rimrock
  • Commercial
  • Engineering

Objective: Optimize the use of a single robot in a workcell using automation design and engineering.

Detailed design brings efficiency to end-of-arm tool

Getting one robot to perform many roles in a small amount of time (and space) requires detailed design and robust engineering. This robot moved a pair of hubs, connected by a sprue, from a pickup station to a sand shakeout station so the remnants of its sand core could be removed. This required only one grip on the arm, but as the robot moved through repositioning and into trimming, where the sprue would be removed for recycling, it needed more than one touchpoint to hold the now-separated hubs. Using our understanding of that process and the robot’s size and rotational limits, we engineered multiple grips so that each movement was methodical and uninterrupted.

Workcell layout requires time + componentry management

More conceptual work came into play as we took a look at the fixture design of the overall workcell, which contained multiple purchased parts that needed to play well together in a very specific amount of time. We engineered an overhead frame for the first station’s vision system, the area that lets the robot know where and how to pick the hubs up. And we developed the alignment fixture, which orients the hubs for the robot inside the sand shakeout station, as well as the repositioning station, which preps the hubs to be trimmed. Once we finalized the design, engineering and layout of each fixture, we passed along both 2D and 3D Computer-Aided Design (CAD) models so Rimrock could begin their prototyping processes.