Automated Riveting System

A client in the aerospace industry required a system that would carry automate the riveting of a crucial component used on commercial planes. The range of housings were complex in shape and required up to 50 riveting operations.

The Challenge

To design and manufacture a riveting system that could rivet complex housings that formed part of an aircraft. Locating the pre-drilled holes to ensure the automatic loading of rivets is accurate is a crucial part of the solution.

A long term goal was to also integrate a Universal collaborative robot, but this did not form part of this project.

  • Automatic Loading of Rivets
  • Alignment of holes to ensure rivets are accurately inserted
  • Bespoke Design of riveting tooling to provide the correct compliance for the riveting

The Solution


The system comprised of a rivet bowl feeder, an escapement and a punch assembly. The bowl feeder fed rivets in the correct orientation to an escapement before presenting it to an upper punch, which retained the rivet through vacuum.


The punch assembly consisted of a ā€œCā€ frame, pneumatic cylinder, upper and lower punch assembly and component clamping pin. The upper punch assembly uses a spring-loaded inner punch in a normally open position to allow a vacuum to be achieved in order to hold the rivet.


SP Automation & Robotics designed a unique rivet tooling comprising of the vacuum hold tool, locating tool, stripper tool, and lower tooling. To allow the system to cater for various lengths of rivets, and thicknesses of sheet metal material, interchangeable stops/collars were provided. This enabled the client to quickly change between batches and set-ups.


Digital signals were required to enable the future cobot to integrate with the system seamlessly.

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