Our client is an Automation solution provider for the automotive, medical, computer & electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and other industries across North America. 


The scope was to design a workstation to flip-up 5 different Power Transfer Units (PTU) instead of using a robot due to the space constraint. The client had a very stringent timeline to deliver the entire automated assembly line and test line for the power transfer unit. So, an external Engineering team help was needed to design the Automatic flip-up station.

Why APA? 

APA has around 8 years of experience in the design of automation equipment, welding fixtures, assembly line automation, work stations/work cells, and EOAT (End Of Arm Tools).  

Design Challenges involved: 

  • The requirement was to pick the PTU from the conveyor pallet and rotate it by 90deg with respect to the perpendicular axis of the roller conveyor and then further rotate it by 30deg with respect to the conveyor axis.  
  • For 30deg rotation, a suitable rotary actuator could not be found due to the high “mass moment of inertia” requirement, as the COG of PTU being far away from the axis of rotation. So, a linear actuator with a bearing instead of a rotary actuator was decided upon and it is proven as the right choice.

Design process: 

  • Understanding the station’s requirement and Sequence of operations performed and determine the design elements 
  • Designing the Fixture where to hold the component and determining material depending upon the component to be held. Incorporate pins and pneumatic gripper.  
  • Designing the gripper fingers for 5 different variants of PTUs. 
  • Designing a stand to hold the gripper fingers with sensors. 
  • Performing, sizing calculations to select, Linear guides, Bearing, Linear Actuator, and Rotary Actuator.
  • Incorporating safety features such as Shot Pin cylinder and emergency stop. 
  • Designing different hole positions and hole sizes for assembly process Poka-Yoke. Have Sensors in the gripper stand to check whether the correct finger is used in the gripper. 
  • Ensuring that no clash while the gripper pick and place the PTUs in the conveyor pallet. 
  • Using proximity sensors to know the stop positions of various mechanisms in this assembly. 
  • Preparing assembly drawings and Bill of Materials. 

Value delivered:  

  • Have performed sizing calculations of long-lead items such as Linear actuators, Grippers, Linear guides, shock absorbers, light curtains, etc., and got the confirmation from the respective manufacturers during the initial stage of design completion. This helped to speed up the construction schedule.  
  • APA Engineering is an On-Demand Extended Design house for our client. Design cost was just 40 % when compared to onshore. 

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