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Automation

TestWorks Group has the experience and skills necessary to automate your processes - whether you need to automate a simple process on the  bench, or are looking for a full automated handling solution, we have the capabilities in-house. Some examples of automated solutions we have developed and built include the automated handling and testing of a complex audio-visual assembly inside an anechoic chamber, a custom-designed 3-axis gimbal table for the avionics industry and an automated solution for checking plastic dairy crates during the manufacturing process.

      

Why automate?

  • Cost saving – reduce costs by speeding up manual  processes & producing minimal scrap/waste
  • Consistent & repeatable – produce the same product or repeat the same process over and over again
  • Controllable – fully controllable for optimum  flexibility
  • Efficient – maximises efficiency, can run 24/7 if necessary
  • Operations which are not possible manually – many processes simply  cannot be carried out by a human operator, for example in our first Case Study, it would be impossible to rotate the assembly in three axes manually

    

    


TestWorks Group acquires Adept Automation Ltd.

TestWorks Group has recently announced the acquisition of Adept Automation Ltd., based near Aylesbury.

This acquisition will enhance TestWorks Groups' automation capabilities and adds a range of additional solutions including vibratory bowl feeders, linear feeders, conveyors and elevators, storage hoppers, robotic handling, vision systems and assembly/inspection systems.

Please click here for the Adept Automation website (opens in new tab)

Automation Case Studies

'FOUP' Handler for Semiconductor Wafers

Throughout the semiconductor production process,devices are initially developed on a thin disc of silicon (normally referred to as a ‘wafer’). During the production cycle these wafers must not be exposed to particles or contamination. In order to maintain the level of cleanliness required (far greater than the cleanliness levels witnessed within an operating theatre), wafers are only ever transported in hermetically sealed boxes.These boxes (known as Front Opening Universal Pods or ‘FOUP’s for short) have a front face door that has a complex turnbuckle lock feature.

In order to gain access to the wafers within, the door must be captured, unlocked and then withdrawn horizontally,and taken clear to give free access to the wafers.

This system was developed to fully automate the process, and to ensure that no mechanical stress was applied to the wafers. 

For video please click here (opens in new tab)

Hard Drive Transfer System

This system was developed to transfer Hard Disk Drives (or HDD’s) from a production conveyor line to transportation boxes. The boxes were fitted into a movable, double-sided trolley unit, enabling boxes to be populated on both sides. The trolley design required the boxes to be ‘canted’ backwards at an angle to ensure that the HDD's remained secure during transit.

A particular challenge with this system was that only a very small section of the HDD was exposed when in the transportation box; the available area was not sufficient to secure the HDD horizontally when gripped, so a unique gripper mechanism was perfected to allow the HDD to be gripped and then supported whilst being transferred from conveyor to the transport box.

The system had trolley units fitted to both sides, and the inner automation was able to load and unload HDD’s from these sides, giving the maximum capacity of handling between trolley changes.

For video please click here (opens in new tab)

Hard Drive Stacking System

In this example, the customer needed to automate the vertical stacking of Hard Disc Drives. The stacking function was achieved in a minimal vertical space, and the design has the flexibility to be used as a bottom-up or top down-stacker, or as a vertical conveyor.

For video please click here (opens in new tab)

Automated Videoconferencing Unit Test System

TestWorks Group was engaged by a major OEM to provide an automated solution for a testing a videoconferencing product. The unit-under-test (UUT) comprises an assembly which includes a camera, microphones, speakers and infrared receiver, with interfaces including HDMI, Audio, USB, RJ45/Ethernet and power. 

Due to the demanding requirements, testing had to take place inside an anechoic chamber, with the chamber constructed to provide in excess of 35 dB isolation and to minimise Total Harmonic Distortion. In addition to verifying full functionality, the UUT also had to be tested for correct assembly, as any loose panels or components would affect the acoustic performance. As the solution was required to test a variety of product types, product-specific pallets were designed to accommodate each UUT and to allow connections to be made before testing, with all interface connections wired to a block on the pallet. This block in turn connects to a test probe block within the chamber. Transducers on an X/Y/Z gantry within the chamber were designed to be automatically placed in any location within a defined area for UUT testing; these include a microphone, speaker driver and IR transmitter.

UUTs are fed into the enclosure via an Input Conveyor and, after testing, passed out the opposite side using an Output Conveyor.

The system was successfully commissioned on-site in China and has significantly improved test consistency and saved operator time. A second system has since been ordered.

Automated Videoconferencing Unit Test System

Three Axis Gimbal Table

TestWorks Group were commissioned by a major avionics OEM to develop an automated avionics instrument test system which included requirements to rotate the unit-under-test (UUT) in three axes, to simulate pitch, roll and yaw movements. Initially a third-party movement table was considered, but due to specific customer requirements a suitable unit could not be sourced, therefore a custom designed gimbal system and movement table was developed and built in-house. The unit includes a clamping mechanism to accurately locate the UUT in position, automated pushbutton actuators and a camera for additional tests. Careful cable management was required for both the control/positioning cabling and also for connections to the UUT, actuators and camera. The gimbal table is part of a complete functional test system developed and built by TestWorks, with the table being controlled using National Instruments LabVIEW software.

For video please click here (opens in new tab)

Three Axis Gimbal Table

Milk Crate Inspection & Test Systems

TestWorks Group were commissioned to develop and build an automated solution to inspect and test a plastic milk crate as part of its production process. The crates are inspected and tested on a batch basis, so after exiting the moulding process and then cooling for a period of two hours, the crate is fed into the system. Initially the crate is automatically weighed to ensure that the correct quantity of plastic has been used and that the crate isn’t over- or undermoulded. The dimensions of the crate are then checked using laser scanners, followed by the application of a weight to the crate, which ensures that the level of deflection under load is within required parameters. The system is fully controlled using National Instruments LabVIEW software.

TestWorks Group has full electronic, mechanical and software design and build capabilities in-house, allowing us to provide a range of professional, cost-effective automated solutions. With the addition of full product design plus cable and box-build assembly this year through strategic acquisitions, we are more capable than ever of taking on such projects.

Latest News:

Another new acquisition!

Another new acquisition!

Following on from the recent acquisition of Adept Automation, Aylesbury and merger with PTP, Cambridge, TestWorks Group is delighted to announce the acquisition of AGS Electronics Ltd., based in Dunfermline.The…

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