Modern technology provides companies with the chance to work more efficiently. A time-consuming refinement process in the jewelry business and the desire to create an automated solution were the reason to initiate a project with the Degree Programmes in Automation Technology at CAMPUS 02 University of Applied Sciences.
In 2018 Ingo Jug, owner of the company “perlenunmehr.at”, approached the Degree Programmes in Automation Technology. This Styrian individual company sells a wide range of accessories for the fashion jewelry. However, in this industry it is often necessary to refine raw materials in order to process them further. This means that wire pins that have been bent during production or delivery must be straightened by hand which is particularly laborious and time-consuming, since the pens must be processed individually.
The aim of the collaboration was to find a way to automate the straightening process and for this purpose extensive research and conception works as well as empirically testing was carried out. The project forced CAMPUS 02 research staff to think in several directions and to combine ideas for solutions.
In the first step, the straightening process was developed. A roll straightening process was used first, before focusing on a process using two matrices. The tool was produced with a 3D printer at CAMPUS 02 and required some optimisation before satisfactory results could be achieved. With further repetition and refinement of the straightening process, the solution to the problem was continuously approached.
In the second step, the handling of the wire nails was examined and the sub-process steps for separation, transport and transfer to the straightening process were developed. After corresponding verification of the sub-process steps, these were brought together in a first prototype which was supplemented by a corresponding sensor system for process monitoring. A programmable logic controller takes over the control of the corresponding actuators and the evaluation of the sensors.
At the end of the project, the prototype was validated and throughput, quality and process stability were optimized by fine-tuning the subcomponents.
As a result, initial tests could already be carried out in the company with the developed prototype, which is based on a vibration conveyor and die straightener with rolling roller geometry. This means that in future employees will be able to concentrate on more valued-added activities.
The project work confronted the project team around Christian Gasser with the challenges of innovation: Analysing research, empirical work, a theoretical concept, and practical implementation. Dealing with all these working steps ultimately leads to success. In this case it could be demonstratetd how the straightening of wire nails can be done with an automated solution – in the required quality and with considerable time savings.