Palletizing Case Study (Engine Cradles) - Tech-Con Automation
Robotic Palletizing solutions case study by Tech-Con Automation
Palletizing Solutions
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Palletizing Case Study (Engine Cradles)

A manufacturer of engine cradles wanted to automate the coating process of the cradles prior to shipping. Tech-Con Automation developed a robotic palletizing and conveyor solution with in-pallet stretch wrap that increased productivity.

Customer Needs

    • The part was too heavy for one or more operators to manage without a lift assist. In addition, engine cradles are predominantly hydro-formed components welded together, which limits the options for reliable and repeatable gripping surfaces. Compounding this was the requirement to handle three different part models with the same tooling.
    • Effective placement of part on shipping racks: Shipping racks are typically steel fabrications and therefore not highly accurate. In addition, their function exposes them to continuous handling and eventual damage. The robotic transfer of parts to and from racks required the racks to be repeatable in both dimension and position.
    • The identification of parts entering and exiting the cell was necessary to avoid mixing models and the release of un-repaired rejects.


Our Solution

    • Tech-Con used robots to manage the parts going into and out of the coating process, while allowing the operator to use a lift assist to take away defective parts only. This preserved takt times and process control.
    • Tool design considered part characteristics such as center of mass and reliable contact points for handling. In addition, robot payload capacity, robot reach, part-in-rack orientation, and part orientation to and from the wax line were also considered. The result was a robust and compact custom pneumatic tool that met all performance requirements.
    • With positive conveyor drives in two directions against hard stops, and the use of heavy duty pneumatic clamping, racks were qualified by their base frame and held firmly in place during part transfer.
    • The RFID method of part identification was integrated into the robotic handling system to track and manage each part through the coating process and on to the appropriate racks. This tracking was linked to the customers’ factory-level data collection system.



    • Production: Automation eliminated variability in process times, ensuring maximum production up-time. What’s more, by allowing the operator to take away defective cradles, the parts could be effectively sorted for rework.