20 October 2014
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Automated screw driving is not new, but generally fixed and inflexible technology has been used. Now, Global fastenings specialist Böllhoff has developed a complete system called UNIQUICK® to cater for all applications from hand held to fixed machinery both with automated screw feeding.

The decision whether to deploy automated screw driving is usually determined by costs in terms of cycle times, line speeds and production volume. It is therefore essential to properly evaluate potential savings before investigating the feasibility of installing automation. With this in mind, Böllhoff has introduced a method that it calls Motion Time Measurement (MTM) and the company's experts can assist in evaluating assembly processes according to the MTM practice. Once established that time and cost savings can be made, it is a matter of considering the best options for the assembly line.

Böllhoff reckons, based on years of experience, that a manual work centre can produce cost savings of 50% just by using automated screw drivers with automatic feeding.

One of the key features of Böllhoff's approach is that company has deliberately designed the screw driving equipment to be independent of any specific drive. Indeed, Böllhoff hand held screw driving systems have an open motor interface, so they can be set up to operate with different or existing drives depending on the application. This is a fundamental difference from any other system in that any drive arrangement can be used. In other words, if a user already has a number of drives they can continue to use that supplier. In this way, the user does not have to learn about the screw drivers' specific drive; they do not need to have a separate maintenance agreement; nor do they have to hold unique spares that are useless in their other equipment.

Cynics might argue that it's also often the case that drives manufacturers offer screw driving options merely as a way to sell more of their drives.

Hand held screw driving systems are ideal for short batch manufacturing and Böllhoff's UNIQUICK® system lends itself readily to creating automated workstations.

A telescopic screw driving system, such as Böllhoff's UNIQUIK® Basic, is ideal for when a contact pressure must be applied, for instance when using wood screws or self-tapping types. Böllhoff provides its model in two variants of straight rod type or units with a pistol grip. The automated feeder for the UNIQUICK® Basic has a neat path monitoring system that prevents two screws from entering the nozzle at the same time.

The next model in Böllhoff's UNIQUIK® range is the Advance, which differs fundamentally from the Basic range in that the screws protrude to facilitate screw location and even the alignment between the parts being fastened. For applications requiring monitoring or documenting, the Advance is available with an electrical drive so that torque and rotation angle can be monitored and controlled throughout the entire screw driving process. This process monitoring system can detect any thread breakout or overturn. Vacuum versions of the UNIQUICK® are also available.

The control arrangements for the Böllhoff system are innovative. The UNIQUICK® QA-Box is a simple to use and compact unit that measures a variety of parameters. The number of screw fastening processes per components, so as to determine that the defined number of screws has been fixed. The QA-Box also monitors the time stipulated for each screw fastening process, to ensure each screw has been fully tightened. Finally, it releases from a workpiece carrier processed components, for example from a workpiece support or in an automated process.

The QA-Box is based on a PLC with a display and operating controls and software for a specific screw fastening process. It can also be configured for other components. In the event of a fault, both audible and visual alarms are triggered. For integration purposes, signals can be fed to higher level control systems.

For higher volume production lines and for integration within special machinery, Böllhoff manufactures as system it calls the UNIQUICK® Vario family. The range comes in three sizes with a modular design enabling it to be fitted to a broad range of other equipment. Indeed, special low mass versions are made specifically for robot applications. The variants are breathtaking, allowing for multiple screw heads, high torque fastenings, special feed strokes and more.

Feed and screw strokes are separate and Böllhoff also supplies appropriate feed and driving technology as well as all peripherals, controls, software and sensors. A series of optional monitoring systems is available to improve productivity, quality and uptime for stationary screw driving applications.

Naturally, the company's systems accommodate just about every type of screw fastening imaginable.

All of the above systems come in variants and Böllhoff is always pleased to assist in the assessment, design and supply of solutions for customers. The company's long history of manufacturing both fasteners and fastening equipment makes it one of the world's most experienced and best qualified partners for industry.

Bollhoff Fastenings Ltd

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