Monthly Archives: May 2014


Hard Labour for Tory Politician

Finally, proof of some really productive work from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP! But only for 10 minutes – probably not enough time to map out a new funding package for British industry. Or was it…?!

During his visit to Chippenham-based electronic control and lighting specialist DANLERS in July, the Cabinet Minister and Rt. Hon. Member for Tatton took interest in a Mascot workstation and tried his hand at guided PCB hand assembly. DANLERS has three Mascot Pushtrack systems set in a ‘Lean Line’ configuration – amusingly appropriate given the lean economic times we’ve all endured over the past few years.

Reliable reports from the DANLERS’ staff who observed the Chancellor at work are that his hand assembly skill is pretty competent. But then it’s really hard to get things wrong using a Mascot – even a politician can do a good job! Mr Osborne was tutored on the Mascot by DANLERS Production Trainee Mathew Johnstone.

The primary purpose for Mr Osborne’s two-day visit to Wiltshire was to support Michelle Donelan, the prospective MP for the Chippenham Constituency, and to announce multi-million pound Government grants aimed at creating or securing thousands of jobs. DANLERS Limited was selected by the local Conservative office as a fine example of a successful local company that has maintained its status as a UK manufacturer, resisting the trend to manufacture abroad.

Robotas Technologies help Ericsson streamline manual assembly operations

Workstations for Base Stations

Late last year, a renowned Scandinavian telecoms company took a fresh look at its hand assembly process used when manufacturing its cellular base station products. The company trialled a Sigma workstation, liked it, and so purchased it.

Then the process engineering team decided they really liked it. So they purchased three more. As if to prove that good things come in threes – we now hear that they are to purchase a further three Sigma workstations later this year.

As well as the Sigma workstations, the company has invested in our Workflow software. Workflow lets the team maximise productivity and traceability by collecting and analysing production data from every Sigma station to track throughput against work schedules in real time. It logs critical production data too.

The clever ball bearing selection process with this Sigma workstation is our new Data I/O card

A Load of Balls for Sigma

Could this be our most intriguing Sigma application? Okay, some of you may ask “What’s Sigma?” as it is perhaps our best-kept secret. Despite our secretiveness, there are quite a few Sigma workstations being pressed into service in the marketplace. This particular application sees the hand assembly system selecting ceramic ball bearings for precision ball races.

The real power behind the clever ball bearing selection process with this Sigma workstation is our new Data I/O card. This accessory permits Sigma to be programmed to offer parts based on live incoming data – in this case a measurement being made of the precision ball race cage. Once this fine-tolerance measurement is passed to Sigma, the workstation presents the assembly operator with the best matched set of ceramic ball bearings from the appropriate tray of a single motorised carousel. It then guides the picking process using a suction cup, allowing the operator to take eight ceramic balls.

These ceramic ball bearings vary minutely in size, due to the natural tolerance of the manufacturing process. However, when each ball is accurately measured, sets of the same size (strictly gauged within very tight tolerance parameters) can be grouped into a carousel tray segment. Sigma knows the exact measurement of each of these ball sets and offers them up according to the incoming measurement via Sigma’s Data I/O card. It’s essentially blue-printing – a procedure used widely in the performance automotive sector, especially for sports car and motorcycle engines. In this way, the assembly operator can only build a ball race to the exact measured quality.

Talking of performance, these premium ball races make their way into turbocharger units, where rotational velocity can exceed 150,000 rpm! At these speeds, any slack or play in the ball race could cause catastrophic vibration. Similarly, while ceramic balls are less prone to thermal expansion, a bearing race that is too tight can seriously degrade rotational performance. That’s why the precision measurement and matching process is so critical. And that’s also why the Sigma workstation with its new Data I/O card is so important.

The turbo units manufactured by this Sigma customer are used in top-brand German performance cars.