TC helps PACE improve set top box assembly

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 1 August 2000




(2000), "TC helps PACE improve set top box assembly", Industrial Robot, Vol. 27 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

TC helps PACE improve set top box assembly

TC helps PACE improve set top box assembly

Keywords: Robots, Microtechnology

Pace Micro Technology has found an innovative, low-cost way of further improving the reliability and speed of fixing PCBs to the chassis of its set top boxes. The company is to implement a SCARA robot, supplied by Leicestershire's Townsend Coates, as the first stage in the final phase of box assembly (see Plate 4).

Although, in principle, the task is a simple one - screw fixing - it is, in practice, a problem area. The principal issue is that machines can deliver higher reliability than human operators but automated applications are rare. Speed is also an issue - the company has an assembly operation with an output of some 1,200 units per day.

Plate 4 The SCARA robot now available from Townsend Coates

As a result, Pace Micro Technology evaluated several automatic and semi-automatic alternatives. However, only the Janome SCARA robot, supplied by Townsend Coates, was found to meet the cost-performance requirement of Pace.

Chris Bew senior engineer at Pace, commented:

Until we found the SCARA system from TC, none of the solutions we looked at were viable in terms of cost. However, this product is ideal for our requirements. Previously, fixing the pcb was a 2-stage operation, requiring one and a half operators - but the robot simplifies the process significantly with a cycle time of 22 seconds.

As a leading specialist in production assembly, Townsend Coates has supplied many robots to high-profile customers, for a wide range of applications, but this - according to Mike Garry, TC's UK sales manager for the production division - is the first time they have supplied a SCARA robot for screw fixing operation.

He said:

The Pace application clearly demonstrates the flexibility and cost-benefit of implementing this technology. The SCARA robots are fast, light and reliable, and can very easily be reconfigured to another task by installing a different memory card. We expect Pace to be the first of many to take advantage of the product's benefits.

In fact, TC did more than supply the product. The company provided a full support and training programme as part of the package, while TC's assembly automation partner, TEC, supplied the tooling and guarding. This was considered by Pace as another factor in its choice of supplier.

Chris Bew continued:

Implementing a stage of automation in an assembly operation is not straightforward and ancillary services such as support are critical. Both Townsend Coates and TEC have been first rate in this respect.

Established in 1961 Townsend Coates is now part of the Acal Group, and is a leading specialist in the supply of manufacturing and joining solutions. With an extremely wide range of products from leading manufacturers the company also has an established component division, and offers many advanced facilities such as EDI trading, bar coding, materials management and a worldwide sourcing and procurement service for non-franchised product.

For more information contact Mike Garry, Townsend Coates, Lunsford Road, Leicester, LE5 0HH. Tel: +44 (0)116 274 4425. Or email

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