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Semiautomatic benchtop stripping and terminal crimping machine certainly are a staple of every harness assembly shop. They’re ideal for high-mix, low-volume wire processing applications. But, if you want to produce a large number of identical crimped wires in a shift, you want a fully automatic cutting, stripping and crimping system.

Fully automatic machines are far faster and a lot more consistent than semiautomatic equipment. They can combine multiple operations in one setup and automatically separate rejected leads.

Automatic equipment removes a persons element from high-volume wire processing applications, while improving quality and reducing costs. For example, state-of-the-art automatic crimping machines can process wires at rates above 4,000 pieces per hour with absolute precision and then in-process inspections.

However, manual crimping is vulnerable to variations with the operator, including prematurely positioning a wire in a terminal before crimping, contributing to mistakes and bad quality. Automatic machines eliminate this variation.

“Fully automatic machines need fewer operators to carry out the same tasks,” says Erich Moeri, manager of applications engineering at Komax Corp. “Therefore, they may be better. Generally, you can expect to reduce floor space. There’s less equipment and you may eliminate some intermediate storage, such as the should store precut wires.

“Fully automatic machines will even give a better quality product, due to the integrated quality checks,” adds Moeri. “In addition, they supply a far higher output.”

“Wire harness shops is capable of doing more using the same amount of human resources,” notes Rich Schwartz, v . p . of engineering at Schaefer Megomat USA Inc. “Fully automatic machines also allow shops to look after more and larger jobs. Sometimes, a device could buy itself in just a year.”

That’s important, because going from semi- to totally automatic equipment needs a big investment. While semiautomatic wire processing equipment can run $15,000 to $30,000, fully automated machines average $50,000 to $75,000. Engineers need to avoid falling from the trap between machine capability and actual use around the plant floor.

Since today’s machines are engineered with quick change-overs at heart, many experts believe there exists a spot for fully automatic equipment in high-mix, low-volume wire processing applications.

For instance, Komax provides a machine especially for that. “The Zeta 633 crimping machine features a wire sequencer option where you may have 36 different wires ready in the wire cutter all the time,” Moeri highlights. “Changing wire is completed through the click of any mouse.”

Engineers at many equipment suppliers have designed several quick-change features within their machines to significantly lower set-up time. Artos Engineering Co. recently unveiled the Cr.22, which may tackle a wide array of applications, like weather sealing, crimping, twisting and tinning. As the machine are designed for low-volume runs requiring multiple change outs during production, it also can accommodate high-volume runs.

“Diversity in production is important,” says John Olsen, president of Artos Engineering. “Today, customers want options and flexibility.

“The step to justifying an investment inside an automatic method is to hold the appliance producing parts as efficiently as is possible with minimal downtime,” explains Olsen. “Older automatic machines could take as much as twenty or so minutes to put together and alter from a single job to a different one.

“This was acceptable when the machine could process thousands of wire at a time and run for a long time in the initial set-up,” adds Olsen. “However, if your customer wish to operate a few hundred pieces and change to another job, that amount of change-as time passes negates productivity.”

With quick-change carts, sensors that track wire core size, and all of servo-driven technology, fully automatic machines might be create in just seconds vs. minutes. Most new-generation machines also provide built in quality checking features, which happens to be necessary for wire harness shops doing automotive-related applications.

“These forms of customers are trying to find machines offering the highest number of fully integrated quality checks,” says Moeri. “We offer equipment where operators begin with downloading ‘jobs’ from a business resource planning system and view material in the machine utilizing a bar code scanner for process verification.

“Product quality concerns could be addressed by automatic crimp height measurements, crimp height adjustments, pull-force monitors and seal position analyzers,” Moeri indicates. “Afterwards, they are able to try to find feedback in the product created by automatically uploading critical information returning to the ERP system. That addresses traceability issues.”

User-friendly controls and software help make everything that possible. As an example, Schleuniger Inc.’s new CrimpCenter 36 S boasts efficient motor programming and internal Ethernet communication coupled with a maximum feed rate of 8 meters per second. Furthermore, it includes a touch-screen monitor and intuitive operating software.

“The combination makes programming not so difficult in order that even novice operators quickly feel comfortable,” says Gustavo Garcia-Cota, crimping product manager. “Standard TCP/IP protocol enables easy machine networking. The optional EASY ProductionServer software helps optimize order processing and allows engineers to check and gather valuable production data from practically all over the world.”

As wire gets smaller and smaller, it becomes harder to take care of. That can undoubtedly spur more investment in fully automatic equipment that can easily grip thin wire.

“Machines provided with powerful servo motors and optimized programming of your process axes provide for precise and fast motion sequences,” says Schwartz.

His company recently unveiled wire stripping machine that that may process wire as small as .08 millimeter squared.

“The Megomat 1000 posseses an unusually large range of wire cross sections that may be processed,” claims Schwartz. “It are prepared for approximately AWG 8 wire. And, the arrangement from the cutting blades dexjpky35 for very short wire overhangs.”

An application-controlled, adjustable wire guide system eliminates the use of tubes with the gripper. The programmable gripper jaw openings are automatically adjusted. “A large, two-side enabled swing radius of both gripper arms provides flexibility in realizing different applications,” says Schwartz.

However, irrespective of how much they embrace fully automatic equipment, most wire harness shops must keep a few manual and semiautomatic machines on hand. Applications involving cables, large-gauge wire, twisted-pair leads and shielded wires carry on and demand some of the tools.