ARM Automation conceived and delivered a highly custom end-to-end production process for making wire mesh structures used for holding various types of hazardous granular materials used in the petrochemical industry. This application called for the development of a turn-key solution which encompassed:
- Re-design of the customer’s product to facilitate cost reductions and automated manufacturing (DFM/DFA)
- Design and development of various material handling systems, including grippers, multi-axis transfers and robots
- Adaptive control of process parameters to compensate for material variations on the fly
- Metals stamping and forming using a dynamically-adjustable die system
- Development of unique and proprietary spot welding techniques in several areas
- Vision inspection and robot/tool guidance
- Complex, recipe-driven, batch-build production control software
- Movement and containment of pyrophoric, toxic materials
- Conveyance, metering and dispensing of abrasive granular materials
- Containment and conveyance of pyrophoric materials in an inert environment
- Layer palletization of products having mixed geometries
These stainless steel modules can vary in size and geometry, fill and packaging and are produced according to a batch recipe to fulfill customer requirements.
ARM designed and developed this system starting from a entirely manual process involving many scores of workers who were performing operations with hazardous materials and under challenging quality constraints. By working closely with our customer’s product design team, ARM helped to re-design several aspects of the product for automated production and through a multi-phased, risk-mitigating approach developed new ways of building this product in a fully-automated fashion.
Process steps involved forming, trimming and joining of formed stainless wire mesh cloth into variable length “sandwich” plates. Multiple plates are then stacked and joined using a series of formed spacer bars to complete a stacked module.
Once built, modules are then automatically loaded to an “intelligent vertical filling system” which delivers hazardous granulated materials through an environmentally contained feed system to a series of vision-guided filling head modules.
Inspected modules are then passed to a row of forming and sealing systems which close and weld shut each module, row by row.
Modules are then transferred to a separate packaging area in which the custom profiles are first dipped in molten wax for passivation before being placed into custom pallet patterns and boxed for shipment.