Deane Systems LLC designed a machine that can feed and install up to 88 rivets in semitrailer panels.

Rivets are blown through tubes to each of these installation heads. Photo courtesy Deane Systems

Installing aluminum rivets in the sidewalls of a semitrailer has been a labor-intensive and messy operation for years. Some 40 years ago, a trailer manufacturer attempted to design a system that would automatically insert rivets directly from feeder tracks, but the system created as many new problems as it solved.

Deane Systems LLC solved the problem by using its standard feed and blow delivery system in conjunction with specially designed components requested by the customer. The outcome of this cooperation is a system that can feed and install up to 88 rivets in 4 to 5 seconds once two operators move the insertion unit into position. Total target time for insertion is 20 to 30 seconds from one group of 88 rivets to the next group.

Future projects are being proposed for fully automatic systems that will feed and install 100 rivets. In addition to automatic insertion, the new systems will be able to deliver both 3/16-inch and 1/4-inch diameter rivets on demand, depending on the panel being assembled.

For more information on this and other feeding and driving applications, contact Deane Systems at 800-276-6006 or

Editor’s note: “We Fed It” is a regular series profiling parts feeders for automated assembly. Whether it’s a vibratory bowl, a tray feeder or a flexible robotic system, if you’ve solved a parts-feeding challenge, we’d like to hear about it. Send an e-mail to John Sprovieri, editor of ASSEMBLY, at, or call 630-694-4012.