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Connector assembly line

Machine design with CANopen

Harwin (UK) has announced the design and installation of its largest ever assembly line, built in partnership with Festo (Germany). This ambitious line is possible through a combination of CANopen systems and Festo products.

The Gecko connector assembly machine (Photo: Harwin)

The assembly line was commissioned to service Harwin’s growing sales of the Gecko 1,25 mm pitch high reliability connector family. Gecko connectors provide a low profile, dual row cable-to-board and board-to-board interconnect solution, suited for stacking and cable mating. By utilizing Festo’s products throughout the machine design, compatibility issues that sometimes arise when using conflicting hardware were removed. Festo delivered a full range of pneumatics, PLCs, drives, motors, and electric axis that allowed Harwin to select the best-suited technology in each area of the machine. The assembly line also includes laser marking and it can automatically assemble the full range of Gecko products.

Paul McGuinness, Harwin’s Director of Engineering commented: “It is our company philosophy to invest in the latest equipment and pursue a drive towards automation. As the Gecko range continues to grow with increasing variants and design options, we needed this new machine to be able to handle all latched connector variants. This is the most ambitious machine we have ever produced, using more I/O than ever before – a total of 450 – which is only possible through the combination of the CANopen and Festo systems.”

Other features include: recipe selection, alarm monitoring, fault diagnosis, function selection, vacuum sensors for accurate position detection, and CMMP control of the EMMS servo motor, which uses an absolute encoder to negate the need for homing if the machine loses power.

McGuinness added: “Festo assisted us from the initial design through to final commissioning. They are excellent to work with – highly experienced, technically very good and very responsive. Their innovative products and expertise have been invaluable in achieving the high levels of automation that we have realized in this new Gecko assembly line.”


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