Flexible feeders enable components to be identified and orientated for placement into the next processing stage of a production line. Typically, components are loaded to a hopper which are then fed to a vibrating platform or rotating disc. The system includes 2D vision to identify the component and communicates to a robot system to pick and place.
Components that are not orientated the correct way up, and thus not visible to the vision, are vibrated or flipped within cycle to re-orientate for identification by the vision camera. The control system identifies the volume within the system and releases more components from the hopper to match the line feed requirements.
The advantage of flexible feeders over tradition bowl feeders is that multiple parts can be fed at the same time and new part variations can be introduced without changing tooling. Furthermore, colour recognition can also be incorporated.