Rotary Index Transfer in Flexible Automation

Rotary transfer through sequential processes is a highly effective automation method that can delivery advantages in speed, cost and reliability in many applications.

Historically, rotary transfer was used extensively to connect dedicated processing steps arranged radially at a series of operation station. High speed indexing tables were developed that combined fast rotation between stations, precise positioning accuracy, high rigidity and reliable operation in 24h production.

Subsequently, the increased scope of automation and integration throughout a production facility have favoured the development of linear transportation methods either directly carrying components on conveyor systems or using palletised component handling systems. Such large scale automation allows entire facilities to be implemented with flexible programmable transportation of parts from raw stock through to final quality controlled and packaging of products.

However, the fundamental advantages of rotary indexing still make this technique a highly effective method to be considered for many specific applications. The logic of circular movement implies naturally returning to the starting point, and this principle delivers inherent efficiency in the simultaneous movement of multiple components around a system. The simplest implementation to take advantage of this is the 180 degree loading indexer, where one simple movement both loads and unloads parts between a loading and a working station with an efficiency that is unmatched by any other mechanism.

Processes requiring multiple operations to be automated are accommodated similarly with an index motion of say, 45, 60 or 90 degrees while retaining the mechanical simplicity of a single mechanism effecting the transfer of all parts to the next position simultaneously. The simplicity of a rotary index system delivers inherent advantages of reduced cost, high positioning accuracy, higher speed and excellent reliability.

The identification of suitable characteristics in  a group of processes allows implementation of rotary transfer cells within a larger automation project to deliver advantages in the cost and efficiency of the whole system. Different aspects of  a process or set of processes may make them particularly suitable. This may be related to a set of core processing steps for all products, where increased production efficiency is achievable by implementing a dedicated processing cell. Another scenario is where a long processing time is able to be offset by the efficiency of a loading indexer or is able to be divided between multiple processing steps at different stations. Specialised tooling may be required to hold parts at a certain stage of production, and is able to be  efficiently utilized on a rotary index table. Similarly, high accuracy processes may be grouped together using a precision rotary transfer mechanism for these operations, when such precision is not needed for other processes.

In summary, the implementation of rotary indexing cells within larger automated systems should be considered as a means of implementing specific processing requirements for groups of operations, such as high positioning accuracy or special fixture tooling; of raising the efficiency of long cycle operations; and of achieving the highest processing efficiency of core sets of operations used across a range of products.

Fibrotor precision cam-index tables and programmable index tables are offered to meet all rotary indexing and rotary positioning requirements for automated production in diverse applications ranging from micro components to heavy engineering.

Fibrotor Rotary Index Tables