There are two main types of linear transfer systems used in factory automation, linear transfer units and precision conveyors. Both have their place of course. Linear Transfer Units move a shuttle precisely over short or long distances and can be used to carry a robot (then called an RTU, or Robot Transfer Unit), a tool tray or can be used for other automation purposes. Precision Conveyors have a number of applications from assembly to filling containers. You can learn more about both here.
Linear Transfer Units:
What is and what is the purpose of a Linear Transfer Unit (LTU)? Well, a linear transfer unit is quite simply a mechanism used to transfer components, parts, or robots needed in various locations on a production line. They add an additional layer to automated manufacturing by adding an additional axis to function on. Replacing the need for forklift and worker operations of pallets of components. Their uses are widespread, one type is a Robot Transfer Unit where what is typically a 6-axis robot is attached to a track and cart, the LTU, and translated down a production line. Other uses include bin feeding, bowl feeding, collection, tool delivery. Any task that was delivery to a robot or production line can be replaced with a LTU.
Another type of Linear Transfer system is a precision conveyor. They are designed to be a key component in a linear manufacturing system that requires accuracy, speed and quality. They are built as individual links that have various means of attaching to components and parts. Each link is interconnected to one another for a typically straight line with looping curves at either end to create a continuous run. While they can be curved it is more common to see a purely linear system. Each link has a cam follower that ensures the system rides within the confines of the specially designed rails. As the weight of this system can prove to be significant special needle bearings are used at each joint to eliminate risk of wear failure and extend over all life. Precision conveyors are used throughout industry such as aerospace and automotive manufacturing. It’s major attraction is the ability to precisely and accurately start and stop in intermittent movements that are required on an assembly line to ensure the accurate completion of a task before shifting down the line. The accuracy comes from high-performance driving system that includes an index drive, brake motor, and gear reducer to accurately translate the part on the conveyor to the desired location.
Need help with selecting the right Linear Transfer System for your automation application? Get our guide below or feel free to reach out for engineering support!