Designing & Building Assembly Systems


August 2020

Designing and Building Automated Assembly Systems

When designing and manufacturing an automated assembly system, many influencers will affect the end concept and final machine design. Drivers will include, cycle time, environment, budgets, production outputs, and even product lifecycle.


Define Your Automation Requirements

The key to any successful project is ensuring that we establish a clear and well-defined specification in the form of a URS or user requirement specification. The URS will outline and define the inputs and outputs, and ultimately, what criteria the automated solution will have to meet when in production. The drivers mentioned above will all help to paint a picture of what is required, and each driver will influence one another.


Product Design

It is important to highlight that the product design can influence the characteristics of the assembly line. At the product design stage, it is advantageous that companies engage with automation system suppliers to help ensure the product design is optimised for automated assembly. Slight changes to the product design can simplify the automated solution.  From features to aid the feeding of parts, to designing the product so that it is assembled or processed as much as possible from one side will all help. This is where the SP team comes into their own by working closely with their clients from the outset of the client’s conceptual product.


The Design and Concept Process

The design and concept process stage for an automated assembly line, like any other project stage is crucial. Get this wrong, and it can lead to a costly and late delivery of your production line. At SP Automation and Robotics, our team of application and design engineers work closely with our clients at the proposal and quotation stages.  These open and transparent discussions allow all stakeholders to have input into the requirement and ultimately, the solution. The expectation that a machine builder will come up with a full proof solution after seeing a customer’s process or product after a single visit or viewing is quite slim. What needs to develop is a true partnership, based on the customers knowledge of their product, and the machine builders knowledge of automation.



Years of Experience

The SP Automation & Robotics team has years of experience and since 1984, has been designing and building machines for a multitude of industries, from medical device manufacturing to packaging systems in the food industry. The process of designing automation solutions can seem complicated, especially when you look at some of the machines SP Automation and Robotics have developed. Each project we look at sees us breaking down the customers’ requirements into small steps, and then building our concept around these. Although at the sales stage, the concept may not be 100% of what the final machine will be like, it won’t be far from it. This is possible due to the SP sales team working closely with application and design engineers from the outset of the enquiry to ensure we provide a solution that the customer needs, and future proofing it where possible.


Dedicated or Flexible Automation

As we all know, automated machines work best when they are dedicated to one product as no changes in the process need to happen. SP Automation and Robotics have machines in production that were manufactured 25 years ago. These machines manufacturing medical devices are still assembling the same product. However, in today’s world, the consumer is demanding more customisation of products; therefore, the flexibility of automation is becoming a more common requirement. In addition, and in our experience, manufacturers are now looking for automated machines to have the potential of being repurposed, to allow them to be retooled to suit a new product in years to come. This reinforces why the specification and requirements at the start of the project need to be defined for both long and short-term gains. Robots from companies such as ABB, and Universal Robots, are providing manufacturers of assembly automation with more options. Industrial six axis robots can be retooled, and cobots from Universal Robots can be tooled to work next to humans, but also have the advantage of being redeployed quickly.


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