ECE 491 - Senior Design
SYS 491 - Senior Design

ME 492 - Senior Mechanical Engineering Design Project
Fall 2014

Last updated: September 4, 2014

Fall 2014 Design Project Descriptions:

Industrial Small-Parts Counter

Overview: For the Fall 2014 semester, we will build, test, and compete with devices that will count small parts (screws, bolts, nuts and other fasteners) and deliver them upon request, with the goal to immediately deliver the exact number of parts when they are requested.

Background: In automotive assembly plants, workers continually draw small quantities (typically 1-8) of small parts (screws, nuts, plastic trim inserts, etc) from larger bins that may contain several thousand of those parts. For example, a worker may draw 2 nuts and 2 bolts from large boxes then turn to the vehicle to perform two assembly operations. Other times, "parts kits" are assembled from large bins of parts that are taken to another station for vehicle assembly operations. In either case, a significant amount of time is spent at each assembly station counting parts. If a worker grabs too few parts, time is wasted retrieving the remainder of the parts. If the worker picks up too many parts, often those extra parts end up on the floor, creating a safety hazard.

There is a need for a small, adaptable and configurable system that would deliver the exact number of small parts upon a simple stimulus (such as holding a hand under a chute). The system must be easily adjusted to deliver between 1-6 small parts. It must accommodate several different sizes and shapes of small parts, such as screws and bolts of various sizes and lengths, machine nuts of various sizes, small plastic trim pieces, etc. Automotive assembly lines typically run at 45-60 seconds per vehicle, so counting speed is not critical; 30 seconds from one parts delivery to being ready for the next delivery is acceptable. The accuracy of the count, and immediate delivery when requested, are vital to the purpose of the device.

The competition between the groups will consist of timed counting/delivery demonstrations. There will be 5-6 different types of parts (machine bolts and nuts, plastic inserts and screws, the exact parts are yet to be determined), Each group will deliver a specific number (1-6, determined by a dice roll for each group) of small parts into the instructor's waiting hand when it is positioned to receive them. Each group will attempt to deliver the same number of each type of part three times. The devices may be physically altered (eg, changing components) between part types, but the number of parts to be delivered will be determined and adjusted for immediately before the test - this adjustment is part of the test. The three counting attempts per part will take place at 45 second intervals. One point will be awarded for delivering an exact count of parts into the hand without hesitation. No points will be awarded for counts that are incorrect, even by a single part, or for deliveries that are noticeably (ie, more than 1 second) delayed. If all three attempts for a single part type are successful, the group will be awarded 2 bonus points.

Competition: The competition for all design groups will take place on December 4, 2014 (the last day for senior design in the Fall 2014 semester), from 10-noon in room 178 EC.

The six (6) specific parts we will accommodate in this project are: