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MWES provides custom machines, integrated automation systems, robotic automation solutions and production lines to manufactures globally. Our engineering staff has technical expertise, a diverse knowledge base, and has built thousands of integrated automation systems.

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Automotive Automotive

Assembly and Material Handling Assembly and Material Handling

Automated Knurling Machine

POSTED 01/09/2014


A metal fine blanking company sought out Midwest Engineered Systems to robotically automate a valve plate knurling process.  Robotic integration is used to fully automate the knurling process for a high-volume automotive industry application.

The firm brought forth a long list of challenges that MWES had to achieve:

  • The machine automation system must be capable of being programmed for four different part numbers
  • Must achieve an automated process speed of one part every 2 seconds
  • The automated work cell must have a compact design to optimize floor space
  • The automated production system must be capable of flipping parts that are loaded up-side-down
  • It must have sensors to detect the radial orientation of a part on the in-feed conveyor to insure correct orientation in the dial table nest
  • The system must be able to operate within the high pressure and high forces exerted by the knurling process

Built-in quality assurance throughout the knurling and handling process. The automation system must also detect defects on the top and bottom surfaces of the part, such as:

  • Missing features
  • Slug marks
  • Missing holes
  • Missing or additional material

The automated production system must have the ability to log part failure information to an operator interface including:

  • Part number
  • Defect type
  • Quantity of each type of defect
  • Time and date stamps


After a full evaluation of the project’s challenges and goals, Midwest Engineered Systems designed and built the customer a complete automated solution, which included:

  • Heavy-duty common base for simple installation and portability
  • Fanuc LR Mate 200iD industrial robot and R-30iB robot controller with Fanuc 2D robotic vision camera for part orientation identification on in-feed pick-up locations and placement on dial process system
  • Robotic End of Arm Tool with a magnetic gripper and sensors
  • In-feed Flip Station with two-position shuttle escapement
  • Two TOX 30-ton, air over oil, presses
  • Twelve positions, servo-driven, dial table
  • Three-position, servo-driven, out-feed flip station
  • Out-feed conveyor
  • Four-camera PPT vision system
  • The control system
    • Electrical enclosure
    • Servo motor control system
    • PLC with Ethernet IP communication
    • Robot to PLC interface
    • Operator HMI display
    • Arc flash compliance
  • Safety system and enclosure with components, programming, and layout per ISO 13849-1:2006 Category 3 safety guidelines and ANSI/RIA R15.06-1999 specifications
  • Complete electrical and mechanical engineering design
  • MWES provided complete robot, vision, PLC, and HMI programming
  • Complete electrical and mechanical fabrication, assembly, and system test
  • On-site installation, start-up, and acceptance testing
  • Technical training be MWES for operators, engineering, and maintenance


With the successful integration of MWES’s automated knurling machine, this firm achieved the following improvements:

  • Increased productivity – the machine can run 1800 parts/hour
  • Less tooling than the previous machine for faster changeover between parts
  • Decreased maintenance – fewer moving parts to wear than the previous machine and less tooling to maintain
  • Increased reliability and up-time – Mechanically driven, hand-tooled, walking beam replaced with programmable 6-axis servo robot and two programmable servo-driven dial tables
  • Increased floor space – MWES Robotic solution requires 20% less floor space
  • Improved quality – Multiple sensors are able to detect failures and immediately notify the operator
  • Failure reporting – Automatic data logging and tracking of failures

Midwest Engineered Systems has a wide range of experience in building robotically automated knurling machines. If you’re looking to improve your knurling throughput, we have the knowledge and experience to make the project a success.

Contact us to learn how Midwest Engineered Systems can automate even your most complex and challenging operations today!