One of the key parts of any automated process is the feed system. But is a bowl feeder or a vision-guided feed system more suitable for your needs? Read this blog article from SP Technology to find out more.
Automation in manufacturing is a booming industry. With more and more businesses choosing to automate some or all of their manufacturing processes, the costs involved are steadily falling. Between 2015 and 2025 it is estimated that the cost of robots for manufacturing will have fallen by 65%.
Exactly what type of automated machine you will require will depend on the products you are manufacturing and the types of components you use.
How Does a Bowl Feeder Work?
A vibratory bowl feeder is used to guide components into the correct orientation, ready to be used as part of the manufacturing process.
Using a conveyor or chute that matches the shape of the component, they travel along the conveyor or chute, the vibrations of the bowl feeder cause the components to bounce around until they reach the correct alignment. They can then leave the feeder one by one, with each component in the exact alignment that is required.
Unlike other options such as a centrifugal feeder, gravity does much of the work of aligning the components. This makes it particularly useful for components with a centre of mass that is not central, such as bolts.
How Does a Vision-Guided Feed System Work?
A vision-guided feed system does not require the parts to be pre-aligned.
Instead, it uses a robotic vision to recognise the alignment of the component and manipulate it accordingly.
The most common method of doing this is to have a robot picker align itself to the same position as the component before it is picked up. The vision system detects the orientation of the component, and the robotic picker matches this orientation before picking up the component and passing it to the next stage of the manufacturing process.
Benefits of a Bowl Feeder
Bowl feeders offer several benefits. They offer consistent and accurate feeding and can handle components of different shapes, weights, and materials.
By applying a coating to a bowl, marking or damaging to the components can be avoided. Bowl feeders are not suitable for components that are susceptible to vibrations; in this case, step feeders may be a better choice.
Benefits of a Vision-Guided Feed System
A vision-guided feed system offers a much more flexible solution if you need to switch between components and batches regularly.
A bowl feeder will only fit specific components. With a vision-guided system, you can reprogram it for a new component without the need for any retooling.
A vision system is also far more effective for components that are more symmetrical or require a specific orientation based on something other than the component’s shape; components that need to be oriented based on colour, for example.
Should You Choose a Bowl Feeder or a Vision-Guided Feed System?
When choosing between a bowl feeder versus a vison guided feed system, it all comes down to your specific requirements.
If you’re looking for something that can accurately and reliably feed the same component over and over for years on end, then a bowl feeder is a perfect choice. If you want something that can adapt to your changing products and processes without the need for constant retooling, then a vision-based system will work best.
Whatever your needs, SP Technology can help. We offer a wide range of bespoke feeding and handling solutions for even the most fragile of parts. Contact us today to arrange a visit or discuss your requirements.