Assembly in Action / Automated Assembly / Columns

International Collaboration Pays off for Israel Manufacturer

January 3, 2013

Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, Netafim Ltd. is a leading manufacturer of professional irrigation systems and drip irrigation technology. Early in 2012, the company realized its linear transfer line for assembling and testing plastic components had reached its maximum speed of 60 cycles per minute. To meet growing customer demand, Netafim management knew it had to do something to significantly increase production.

The company turned to Innovative Products & Equipment, which designs and manufactures custom automation equip-ment at its headquarters in Tyngsboro, MA.

Dale Beaver, president of Innovative Products & Equipment, determined that further increases in speed were only possible with a rotary indexing table that incorporates fast processing and precision indexing in a single motion.

Beaver had had previous success with rotary tables and automation made by Weiss (based in Buchen, Germany), and its subsidiary, Weiss North America Inc. So he initiated discussions with engineers from both locations to seek a complete, integrated solution for Netafim.

Not only did the rotary table have to be able to decrease cycle time. It also had to be precise, easy to service and reliable, which was a challenge because a large amount of dust is produced when rubber seals are processed at the plant.

After several discussions, Weiss developed a system that combined a TO750 direct-drive rotary table with five HP140 linear motor pick-and-place units. The system would increase production by 25 percent, to 75 cycles per minute. All com-ponents feature special seals to protect against dust.

The rotary table features an indexing ring with a very large inside diameter containing 16 processing stations. It is user-programmable and offers high dynamic performance and repeat accuracy. The table has a four-track design that beats at 75 cycles per minute and allows production of 300 components per minute.

During production, the 16 processing stations pick up, identify, seal and visually check two plastic bowls and a sealing ring before placing them down again. The five pick-and-place units, which are located at the center of the rotary table, handle the bowls and rings before and after inspection.

The pick-and-place units move the parts along the horizontal and vertical axes, and work in unison with the rotary table. Both the table and the pick-and-place units are controlled by a PLC from Siemens AG.

Over the past year, Netafim has installed four such systems at its Israel facility. The company’s significant increase in production has enabled it to develop new products to better serve the agriculture, greenhouse and mining industries.

For more information on rotary indexing tables and pick-and-place units, call 888-934-7762 or visit

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