Continued Investment in Automation – Robot Arm Replacement and Introduction of Innovative System

Franklin Bronze Precision Components has been on the forefront of automation when it introduced robots to their investment casting manufacturing processes in early 2005 – making it a leading advanced automated investment casting foundry.  Franklin Bronze continues to stay ahead with its latest introduction of new robotic technologies.

Bob Barber, then owner, saw the benefits of robotic manufacturing in automating the investment casting processes – time-efficiencies, increased capacity, improvement in uniformity, accuracy, and quality. He introduced ABB robots installed by Shell-O-Matic, to the shell room, part of the investment casting process at Franklin Bronze.

Fast forward to 2020, Franklin Bronze again turned to Shell-O-Matic, Inc. and ABB robots for its next generation robotic upgrade.  Franklin Bronze kicked off the year by upgrading the robotic arm and supervisory system in Shell Room 2.

New Robot Arm & Operating Platform

Increased accuracy, efficiency and safety – while built for future growth

Installed by Shell-O-Matic, Inc., the robot arm in Shell Room 2 was replaced with a new state-of-the-art one in mid-February. Additionally, the SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system, the operating platform for the robot arm, was upgraded to the newest version available. The upgrade allows for unlimited future growth and flexibility of the Franklin Bronze investment cast shell room processes.

The new operating system provides more accurate identification of mold and parts with less manual manipulation.  It takes the guesswork out of priorities and product mixes by analyzing input data and running molds through the most efficient way possible. Essentially, it allows for quality protection of products during the production process that puts Franklin Bronze ahead of the competition. 

Additionally, the robot arm provides a potentially overlooked safety benefit to employees.  It replaces manual hand dipping of molds – eliminating the potential for injuries during the lifting of heavy molds.

New Robot Arm at Franklin Bronze upon arrival and in operation

New Robot Arm for Shell Room 2 at Franklin Bronze – upon arrival and in operation.

Automated Investment Casting Foundry - Advanced Supervisory System communicates with the robot and software system.

Advanced Supervisory System communicates with the robot and software system.

Laser Level Adjustment Technique – Brand New to Industry

With this investment, Franklin Bronze implements Industrial Industry 4.0 technology with the installation of the automatic laser level adjustment, a technique brand new to robots and automated investment casting foundries.

Franklin Bronze is one of the first manufacturers to use laser level adjustment in their shelling operations for investment casting.  The automatic laser level adjustment is designed specifically for dipping into slurry and fluidized sand tanks.  The key benefits are accurate mold dip level on all mold sizes without labor-intensive interference, daily automatic checks to tanks without a shutdown of the shelling operation and the programmed addition of materials when needed without manual intervention.

“The new robot arm, with the laser level adjustment, can automatically and instantly determine the level of slurry tank and will stop if it’s too low,” exclaims, Chris Barber, Operations Manager.  “It senses the levels on its own. It truly is a great example of Industrial Internet of Things or IIoT with its interconnected sensors triggering the robot to respond. It’s a game-changer and keeps us way ahead of the competition.”

Automated Investment Casting Foundry - See “laser” below control box on a sand tank, in place to monitor levels of sand as well as dip level for molds.

Laser technology from the robot monitor levels of sand as well as dip level for molds.

RFID Scanning – Increased Runtime & Improved Consistency

In addition to the groundbreaking laser level adjustment, RFID scanning was also installed. Radio-frequency identification or RFID is used in a multitude of applications across equipment, technology and industries.  The RFID scanning equips the robot to recognize and group like products together for the most efficient mold shelling process in the shortest run time necessary.  This scanning is also a precise mold verification system that accurately identifies each mold for proper process implementation.

automated investment casting foundry - Rack RFID reader

Rack RFID reader

Advanced, Automated Investment Casting Foundry

Franklin Bronze Precision Components continues to expand its automation techniques and adapt further to industry 4.0 through capital improvement projects that allow for future growth and continued efficiencies – making it one of the most advanced automated investment casting foundries.

For more information on what Franklin Bronze can do for you.

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