Assembly in Action: CAD Configurators Reduce Time to Market
March 23, 2007
Founded in 1978, ATS Automation Tooling Systems (Cambridge, Ontario) builds automated assembly and packaging machines for a wide variety of companies in the automotive, medical device, computer, electronics and consumer products industries. Currently, the company employs some 3,600 people at 26 manufacturing facilities in Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia.
Recently, ATS introduced the reconfigurable, modular FlexsysPAK system, a packaging, assembly and dispensing platform based on the company’s proven Supertrak pallet conveyor line.
Traditionally, bringing a product as complex as the FlexsysPAK to market would require substantial lead-time because of the hundreds of different components involved. However, ATS was able to cut down substantially on time to market by using 3-D modeling configurators like those offered by automated components supply company MISUMI USA (Schaumburg, IL).
“Using the configurators has reduced design effort by minimizing the time used to make 3-D models of purchased parts,” says Mike Baljak, CAD support specialist for the mechanical design group at ATS. “Previously, modeling a part not available in our library would require finding a catalogue-either on-line or in hard copy-then modeling the part from the dimensions provided, increasing the possibility of modeling errors and rework as a consequence.
“Now, it’s as simple as logging onto either [the web site] 3D Content Central (www.3dcontentcentral.com), where you have direct access to a number of supplier sites, or directly to the supplier site, inputting the parameters and downloading the 3-D model. It makes designing more efficient, which saves time and money, and allows time to be focused on more important aspects of the design, increasing quality.”
During the development process, ATS engineers could use either the two-dimensional drawings or 3-D CAD files available on the MISUMI web site. After accessing the MISUMI Configurator, designers could input a part number, reconfigure the part and then download the native 3-D file. In most cases, this takes considerably less time than what is required to draw the components.
To further facilitate the process, MISUMI provides standard automation components that can be parametrically configured to the precise specifications required for the unique assembly being designed. When the part design is completed, the designer can download the native CAD file of the component directly into the assembly model. The component then becomes a purchased item, which is added to the bill of material.
Different component materials and surface finishes can also be selected through the part number, while dimensional specifications can be selected in 1-millimeter increments. Additional options include wrench flats, the location of the wrench flat, set screw flats, key grooves and V-grooves.
For more on automated assembly machinery, call 519-653-6500 or visit www.atsautomation.com.
For more on automated components, call 800-681-7475 or visit www.misumiusa.com.