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Material Handling Systems and Manufacturing System Types

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Conveyor Systems are used throughout manufacturing. They move material from one place to another for specific purposes. The type of material handling used depends a great deal on the type of manufacturing system needed for the production of a product.

Material Handling

In production, material handling systems are critical for presenting the right materials, parts, and tooling:

  • in the right condition
  • at the right time
  • in the correct location
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Transfer mechanisms used in industry move parts between work-cells and workstations. These function like the conveyor and diverter on the VEX V5 Workcell system. Some of the basic functions for transfer mechanisms are to:

  • move the part in the most appropriate manner between the machines
  • orient and position the part with sufficient accuracy to maximize productivity
  • maintain quality standards

Manufacturing workers can use manual transfer devices such as hand trucks, four-wheel dollies, and low-lift pallet trucks to move items within the facility. More commonly, automated transfer systems are used within manufacturing. These systems can be classified into three groups:

  • Continuous transfer: The parts or materials move through the production sequence at a constant speed. (For example, an assembly line for cars.)
  • Intermittent transfer: Also called synchronized, this transfer system has the following characteristics:
    • Workstations are fixed in place.
    • The motion of the transfer device is the same throughout the device. The parts being moved by the device are either all in motion or not in motion.

Asynchronous transfer: Each part can move independently of the others. Most of the standard power roller belt conveyors used in production are in this group.

Workstation and Work Cell Support Systems

Workstations and work cells require additional equipment to handle parts. Part positioners can be used when parts are being cut or welded. One example of a part positioner is called the dual station orbital part positioner. This device allows a worker to put material into the system. The materials are worked on by the system. Then the finished product rotates back to the worker to be removed.

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Jigs and fixtures are used in material handling as the robot or an automated machine does its work. A jig is a tool that guides the machining tool, and a fixture is a tool that secures an object on a machine bed at a specified location.