The manufacturer needed to present thin steel blades down an assembly line in a specific orientation. However, the parts were essentially symmetrical, with the exception of a small notch that had to be presented on the right side. With no real differences in the part other than this notch, feeding them to an assembly mechanism with 100 percent accuracy was a challenge.

Fortville Feeders Inc. designed a vibratory feeder bowl that uses a vision system to check for correct orientation of the parts. The camera is programmed to detect whether the notch is on the leading or trailing edge of the part as it moves along the track. If the camera detects a misoriented part, it turns on an air jet to blow the part back into the bowl for recirculation.

By incorporating the vision system into the bowl instead of adding a mechanism to the end of the track, Fortville Feeders was able to keep efficiency high through the bowl, keep a small footprint, maintain the required feed rate, and lower the cost and complexity of the system.

In addition, the customer has the flexibility to change over to another part in minutes. The camera can simply be programmed to detect subtle visual differences in the new parts, and production can resume.

For more information on parts feeders, call Fortville Feeders at 317-485-5195 or visit


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 630-776-0924.