Braun GmbH, headquartered in Kronberg, Germany, manufactures small electrical appliances. Virtually all of the company's products are manufactured in its own plants, which produce more than 150,000 units a day. The entire product range includes about 200 products in 11 appliance categories. Therefore, introducing new products may be commonplace, but it may not be trouble-free.

The company's shaver division needed to shorten its product development cycle and quickly reconfigure its assembly lines to accommodate new shaver models. One goal called for reducing assembly time per unit. To meet this challenge, the Wallduern plant set out to remake its shaver production process around a flexible assembly line that would deliver the needed manufacturing improvements.

One serious shortcoming in the former system was unacceptable downtime. This resulted from the custom-built fixed bowl feeders used to supply 60 different parts to the shaver line. The bowl feeders were constantly jamming or misfeeding, causing numerous stops.

The company has implemented a new flexible automation manufacturing line with six Adept (San Jose, CA) 550s and one Cobra tabletop robot equipped with a FlexFeeder 250 system. The FlexFeeder eliminates jamming and misfeeding by feeding small parts of random size, shape, bulk and orientation into a workcell.

The key to the FlexFeeder system is its integration with vision guidance. The conveyor system scatters parts within the vision system camera's field of view, separates them and presents them to a vision-guided 550 robot. The 550 then picks up one part, orients it and places it. A special backlight aids the camera and robot in acquiring the parts.

Braun estimates that with the new system, the overall efficiency of the shaver production line has increased from 70 to 85 percent, and the new automated line has decreased assembly time per unit from 5 to 3 seconds.

For more information on parts feeders, call Adept at 408-432-0888, visit or Reply 2.