Integrators love a good challenge, and automotive OEMs and suppliers never disappoint. Not only do these two groups expect integrators to meet increasingly high production goals and come in or under budget. They also rely on integrators for creative solutions to all types of automation problems.

Comstock Park, MI-based CG Automation and Fixture (CGAF) has designed, built and integrated production equipment for several Tier 1 automotive suppliers since 1995. Its parent company Commercial Tool Group manufactures fixtures, and plastic injection and die cast molds.

In late 2015, CGAF began working with a Detroit-based Tier 1 supplier that makes large interior door assemblies for two popular midsize SUVs. The supplier asked CGAF to design a system that quickens robotic work on these door assemblies—and then provide and install 13 models of that system, including nine within only seven weeks. A short time later, CGAF engineers came up with a system that features a large four-station indexer (7-foot radius, 3,200-pound payload capacity) and three floor-mounted robots.

System operation begins after workers manually place type A and type B door assemblies in opposite stations of the indexer. The robots insert retaining clips and perform riveting work on one type A door
before the indexer rotates 180 degrees to present the other type A door to the robots. Then the indexer is rotated 90 degrees and the type B doors are worked on following a similar process. After this, workers manually remove the door assemblies and place four more on the indexer.

After the system was designed, Tony Polega, engineering manager at CGAF, met with experts at automation equipment supplier Destaco to discuss its indexer product line. Polega selected Destaco because he knew it could meet the seven-week deadline, since the company manufactures all of its parts in the United States.

For this application, Destaco engineers recommended CGAF use a servo-actuated CAMCO 1301RD indexer, customized to meet the application’s payload, speed and output requirements. The 1301RD combines the benefits of an indexer—including a preloaded drive with no internal backlash, large face mounting, high-capacity bearings and rigid housing—with the advantages of a servo. It quickly changes motion, and offers precise control, computerized monitoring and fast tool change with no downtime.

The indexer has a maximum torque of 47,861 in-lbs, making it ideal for medium- to high-torque applications. A center through hole facilitates passage of electrical wiring, pneumatic lines or mechanical linkages. Destaco engineers customized the indexer in several ways, including lessening its tooling weight through finite element analysis.

Since being installed in 2016, the systems have significantly increased the supplier’s production and operational efficiency. They have also drawn interest from other suppliers, who have asked CFAG to build the same type of system for their applications.

“The indexers are built like tanks, [so] we don’t anticipate having any issues with them, ever,” claims Polega. “They are purposefully engineered to last longer than the interior door assembly machine, and expected to run for the next 10 to 20 years.”

For more information on rotary indexers, call 888-337-8226 or visit