Ford, in Cologne, has put SICK ’s DT50 model and other distance sensors to good use. Ford has found that the DX50 product family of distance sensors provides the flexibility and accuracy required when assembling the up to 7,000 components of its custom designed cars.
The distance sensors are generalists and Ford has used them to perform a number of processes such as:
- ensuring correct distance of the load carriers in automated conveyor systems to prevent rear-ending;
- prevention of collisions of delicate robot arm grippers through the proper insertion of material;
- measurement of the distances between gripper and work piece, set to trigger an alarm if values fall below a prescribed level;
- checking for the presence of borings and openings;
- checking the insertion of bolts and sheet metal components into manual pick-and-place stations;
- (in combination with safety light curtains) monitoring the automatic feeding and removal of material in the work cells; and
- (as muting sensors) automatic differentiation of components.
Proving their flexibility, Ford has also used the distance sensors to open up the new application field of level measurement in one of its pick-and-place stations.
Ford has replaced the 22 inductive sensors previously used with just 2 DT50 distance sensors. These sensors are used for the robot to sense the height of stacks of A-pillars, in order to move the arm to the appropriate gripping position before transferring the stacks from a transport car and inserting them into a holding fixture.
Benefits of using the DT50 distance sensors include:
- significant reduction of wiring required for sensors and accompanying PLC inputs;
- facilitation of integration into the PLC program; and
- increased reliability due to the installation of fewer components.