During this interview our Engineering Manager, Marc Halliburton was interviewed by Senior editor of Assembly Magazine, Austin Weber on the trends, advancements and expectations customer's have come to demand in the evolving manufacturing climate.
How are today’s rotary indexers different from what was available 3-5 years ago?
As time passes, the technology used to manufacture index drives also evolves. This technology in modern CNC controlled machining equipment allows for revolutionary index drives that offer superior accuracies. It is not to say index drives were not accurate before, but now the accuracy possibilities are ~25% better than they were years ago. Rotary indexers have also evolved to be much stronger due to larger internal components utilizing the same outer dimensions and footprint. This allows for a much more cost-effective index drive to handle an application that in the past was at least one frame larger.
What’s the latest trend in rotary indexers?
By far the latest trend in rotary indexers continues to be the ability to operate the rotary index tables as an auxiliary axis to robots. The main advantage to utilizing a cam driven rotary index table as an auxiliary axis is the zero backlash and the exceptional accuracy that it can provide. This trend began about a decade ago with ‘servo’ index drives, or an index drive that is freely programmable which continues today, with customers asking for this in larger units, but also in the smaller range as well. We handle these programmable units by offering a programmable, constant lead cam index drive, with reducer, ready to accept a robot aux axis motor, servo, AC motor with encoder, DC motor, or any input power desired.
What type of products and/or features are manufacturers looking for today?
Today, manufacturers are looking for the most cost-effective solution for their application, while also looking for the highest speed possible to index a load for the least cost. In addition to these features’ customers expect a maintenance free long-life solution to last the full duration of a program without any maintenance requirements. High speed manufacturing is a driving factor with machines being fully automated and manufacturers are looking to eliminate the transfer time an index drive consumes in the process time. While looking at this, they also want to minimize the cost, so a delicate balance of index time versus cost of the unit is considered when they size an index drive.
What types of assembly applications typically rely on rotary indexers?
Assembly applications include medical applications like stint tubes, syringes, disposable medical equipment and surgical equipment. They include consumer goods like toothbrushes, floss, razor blades, pens, and cups. They include automobile manufacturing like the vehicle structure, glass installation, and powertrain assembly. They include heavy industrial machinery, like locomotives, medium and heavy-duty truck assembly, and industrial goods like steel fencing and steel goods.
Are you seeing any new or emerging applications?
Yes, we have seen applications in the medical field for covid-19 supplies and equipment from our medical machine building companies we work with. These applications are high paced and allow limited information to be shared. In addition to medical applications, we are supplying rotary indexers that are being utilized to build automated systems that are being used in the consumer product sector that have been affected by COVID 19 and the increased demand for online shopping.
What is your newest rotary indexing product? What makes it unique?
Our newest rotary indexing product is our TMF350. This revolutionary index drive is the smallest, most compact freely programmable index drives ever created. This unit has the torque and inertial load capacity of an index drive twice its size. It can fit nearly any small compact machine to provide high index speeds, and can be driven by a servo or stepper motor.