Development of software to improve the accuracy and efficiency of an automated shot-peening process

MTC166The MTC helps Sandwell UK introduce software into an automated shot-peening system, which uses CAD model data to automatically determine the robot’s path, increasing the company’s response time and ensuring high levels of accuracy.

The Client

Sandwell UK, based in Towcester, is an SME working in the motorsport, oil and gas, marine and precision engineering sectors, providing specialist surface processing and coating. The company has invested heavily in plant and equipment and has some of the most advanced multi-axis shot-peening machines and computercontrolled curing systems for precise process control.

“The MTC has developed a software suite that handles both scan data and CAD data and post-processes that into our robot software with the minimum of human intervention. Speed of processing and ease of use have been primary driving factors for this project and the MTC has met both the technical requirements and timescales to allow Sandwell to introduce this software into our latest machines.”
Colin McGrory, Technical Director, Sandwell UK Ltd

 

The Challenge

Sandwell’s customers – who include Formula One racing teams – require a very fast turnaround of parts finished to a high quality. Some of these parts
may be designed and manufactured in days before being fitted to race cars for the next event. Being near the end of the production process means that Sandwell is often the last process in the chain before the part is fitted, necessitating a fast response.

MTC’s Solution

To speed up the process, Sandwell introduced an automatic shot-peening system consisting of a robotic booth and surface scanning system, combined with rapid programming to accommodate diverse and changing demands. Working together, engineers from Sandwell and the MTC identified a process in which parts can be geometrically scanned and a CAD model created from this scan. Although this is proven technology, MTC engineers have taken it a step further by developing a process in which the robot’s path is automatically determined by the scanned geometry.

“It is a delight to work with a world-leading SME where our automation expertise can help them take their process knowledge and open up new market opportunities. Companies such as Sandwell are the future potential for Great British manufacturing to lead the world.”
Ken Young, Technology Director, MTC

 

The Outcome

The new processes were proved on the MTC’s own equipment, replicating that used by Sandwell. The processes were transferred to Sandwell’s robotic
system where they have proved that rapid robot path creation can be carried out from scanned geometry with very little input from operators. The result is a much faster response time, a fullyautomated and efficient process and a high level of accuracy.

Benefits to the Client

  • Sandwell is now able to respond to demanding industries with faster response times.
  • Sandwell’s shot-peening process is more efficient, with more precise programming of the robotic operation.
  • Sandwell’s high precision techniques have opened up opportunities in other sectors.
  • The use of automated equipment reduces the need for highly specialised programmers.
  • More efficient use of machines and energy resources.

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