Many engineers mistakenly believe that vibratory bowl feeders can only be designed to feed one specific part, but that’s not quite right. A bowl feeder can’t be made to feed, say, a small spring and a large bottle cap. However, with the right tooling, bowl feeders can be designed to feed a family of parts.

This was the challenge presented recently to Elscint Automation, a manufacturer of vibratory bowl feeders in Pune, India. The company designed a bowl feeder to handle three cylindrical forged parts with diameters of 34, 36 and 40 millimeters. Two of the parts are 35 millimeters tall, and one is 39 millimeters tall. One end of each part has a collar.

The parts needed to be fed flat with the collar down. The customer was concerned that the wrong-sized part or an upside-down part could come out of the feeder. In fact, the customer was ready to invest in a vision system to prevent that from happening. However, the camera could not reliably differentiate between the parts.

Precision tooling, however, could. Elscint designed the tooling to feed the parts axially at first. Parts that are too wide fall back into circulation. Another set of tooling rejects parts with their collars facing in the wrong direction. Finally, another set of tooling tips the parts over so they lie flat.

After the bowl feeder, the parts travel down a 600-millimeter long linear track with adjustable tooling. At the end of the track, a pneumatic pushing mechanism presents one part for pick up.

Due to the size and weight of the parts, the bowl can accommodate only 150 parts at a time. So, the bowl is automatically replenished by an elevator and hopper that store 1,500 parts. A level controller in the bowl triggers the hopper to supply more parts.

For more information on parts feeders, call Elscint at 91-20-27122059 or visit