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Robotic cell with cleaning station for steering racks

Portfolio: Production
Industries: Automotive


In close collaboration with a leading automotive supplier of steering systems for cars and utility vehicles, HEITEC subsidiary Erhardt + Abt has developed a highly economical and efficient robot-based, turnkey loading, unloading, and cleaning station for a steering rack finishing machine.


A conveyor system feeds wire baskets with steering racks to the loading automation system. A robot uses sensors to determine the grip point on a rack, grips it, and places it in an alignment station. This procedure eliminates all relative movements, thus preventing damage to the steering rack. With the aid of a servo-pneumatic system, the planar surfaces of the steering rack are aligned by means of sensors, thus reducing wear and shortening the cycle time to 35.0 seconds per setup. 
The alignment station guarantees a high transfer accuracy to the finishing machine of +/- one degree.
A camera on the robot also checks the DataMatrix code (the permanent laser marking on the finished part) for plausibility and reports it to the superordinate control system. 
After the raw part is machined in the finishing machine, the steering rack is cleaned with grinding oil and dried by means of two nozzles in the cleaning station developed by Erhardt + Abt to guarantee that it remains absolutely drip free for one hour. A suction system, including oil separation, in the cleaning station prevents the release of hazardous oil vapors. It also reduces oil loss and enables oil treatment.