Ashley & Rock switch on for growth with new assembly and test machines

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Article publication date: 1 September 2000




(2000), "Ashley & Rock switch on for growth with new assembly and test machines", Assembly Automation, Vol. 20 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Ashley & Rock switch on for growth with new assembly and test machines

Ashley & Rock switch on for growth with new assembly and test machines

Keywords: Automated test equipment, Modular Industries

Birmingham-based automation company Modular Automation has just completed its second project for electrical component manufacturers Ashley & Rock with a fully automated assembly and test system for a new generation of double-pole plug sockets (see Plate 2).

Following the successful installation of a "ceiling rose and plug" assembly system in 1998, Ashley & Rock commissioned Modular Automation to design and build a complete assembly and test solution to satisfy predicted demand for a new range of electrical plug sockets.

Designed to produce four variants of the new socket, either single or double gang with fully-moulded cover or intermediate face plate, the automated assembly and test system comprises four machines interlinked by Modular Handling's Linkline palletised conveyor.

Plate 2Ashley & Rock switch on for growth with new assembly and test machines

The double socket comprises 36 components and begins the assembly process as an earth strap and base moulding which are manually placed on to a Linkline pallet. At the first machine, an indexing platen line, the earth strap is pressed to the base together with assembly of bowl-fed, fixed contacts. Four tunnel terminals are also inserted at this stage and the presence of each part is verified by optical sensors.

Unloaded in pairs, the components are transported to the next indexing platen line by Linkline conveyor where moving contacts, live and neutral contacts and rocker subassemblies are inserted into position.

A third rotary-based assembly system provides the rocker sub-assemblies where plastic plungers and springs are inserted into the rockers. These are then returned to the second station to be assembled with the contacts.

The final assembly machine feeds the shutter springs, shutters and cover-fixing screws into position, while bowl-feeders orientate and present the plastic front covers. Once tubular rivets have sealed the cover and earth-strap base, the unit is transferred to a fully-automated test station, where the products are 100 per cent electrically and mechanically tested.

First, an electrical test analyses the continuity and isolation of the poles in both on and off condition. The socket is then subjected to a mechanical test where a test plug is inserted and removed to measure the extraction force. Ashley & Rock have taken the lead in testing their products both electrically and mechanically. Units are produced every 2.4 seconds.

Much of the success of the project was the partnership approach between Modular and Ashley & Rock according to Project Manager Greg Hurst who said:

We worked closely with Ashley & Rock to help design a product which sets the standard in terms of quality, safety and performance but which was more suited to high-volume production. Our previous two systems installed last year are running 22 hours a day at efficiency levels of over 90 per cent, and I am confident that the new system will satisfy demand for the new range of sockets.

For further information, please contact: Matthew Bythell, Modular Industries Limited, Talbot Way, Small Heath Business Park, Birmingham B10 0HJ. Tel: +44 (0)121 766 7979; Fax: +44 (0)121 766 6385; WWW:

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