Engineering students develop a parts feeder system for the fuse production line
Final assessment project proves to be a winner: three aspiring engineers from Werne Vocational College – with support from SIBA, the Lünen-based fuse manufacturers – have developed a new parts feeder for stampings that will be turned into NH fuse links. Their mechatronics project not only got top marks but was also considered as fully industry-ready.
The new system has already made several impressive appearances: developed for and with the support of SIBA, the equipment that has been designed by Merlin Dissel, Marvin Moser and Dejan Pejic was not only presented 'for real' in front of the board of examiners in March, but was also demonstrated at the technology open day that was held at the Freiherr-vom-Stein Vocational College in Werne in mid June. This was something special in itself, as entrants are usually confined to displaying their work using PowerPoint presentations or videos and are rarely able to produce fully assembled projects. In this case, however, the parts feeder system that was developed by the three mechatronics engineers for their final assignment at the college's technical institute was actually put on show so that the audience was able to see 'live' how the candidates had gone about their task: sheet metal parts that look like rectangles with a T-shaped attachment are tumbled down through a spiral funnel and then delivered one by one into a feeder channel. Here a camera system is used to check the appearance and position of the parts before an automatic device rotates and swivels them into the right position and discards any rejects. This means that the components are the right kind of fit as they exit the feeder – and the press, whose job is to process the parts for the SIBA production line, is not put off its stroke or fed with the wrong kind of material.
It was Merlin Dissel who first contacted SIBA. “I have friends who work at or used to work at the SIBA plant. SIBA was therefore one of the firms that we approached first. So when SIBA presented the project to us we decided to go for it.” And looking back now at the result this certainly was the right choice. However, at the outset the three students underestimated the size of the task that awaited them. It all too soon became apparent that the six-week deadline imposed quite a tight turnaround – in spite of some thorough preparation. Dissel again: “We got a lot of technical assistance from SIBA and this helped enormously. And of course the three of us really pulled out all the stops to get the job done.” The project supervisors for SIBA were Norbert Hülsmann (Head of Automation) and Thomas Dawid (Designer in Special-purpose Engineering). They not only supplied useful tips but also provided access to other experts, including camera system specialists.
The end result was extremely broad-based as the project required everything from structural design to programming by way of pneumatics, electronics, image recognition and mechanical engineering. “Our teachers also told us that this really was a proper mechatronics project as it called for everything that a mechatronics engineer has to do. And that is a rarity in these cases.”
It was hardly surprising therefore that not only did the exam presentation go extremely well but the three students also seem to be set on further success – Dissel has gone on to study technical business management, Marvin Moser has been working as an engineer at an automotive supplier since July and Dejan Pejic, the third member of the group, has received all kinds of promising offers and is still considering his options.
For SIBA the effort has also been well worthwhile, as a modern parts feeder system will be needed for the new industrial presses that will soon be replacing the outdated equipment. Thanks to the three project examinees the pilot installation is all ready and waiting. And it's working beautifully.