Cab Line Custom Automation

At left is the first of several similar back/bottom processing lines which MLS Systems has built that were used in the production of refrigerator cabinets. These systems performed creasing, notching, piercing, clinching and folding operations to the back panels before they were married to the refrigerator cabinets.

This multi-station line performed many operations to produce the refrigerator cabinet backs. Blanked sheet stacks were picked and placed onto the main transfer system which carried the .017 thick sheet through the various processing stations. Sheets were transferred from station to station by the transfer which utilized a hypocycloidal drive capable of transferring panels in all the stations a distance of 6-ft in 1.8 seconds.

This station utilized a four post press design to perform clinching and creasing operations to the product.

Pictured in this view is an indexing conveyor station which interfaced with a pick and place unit to attach reinforcing panels to the back panels. MLS Systems utilized a metal joining operation that produced multiple clinch joints on the contoured surfaces of the part. MLS Systems utilized the clinching method preferred by our customer.



These two Destack stations, at left, included a crane saver conveyor where pallets of blanked sheets weighing thousands of pounds could be staged before being processed through the system. Empty pallets were later transferred out of the destack station by a drag chain style conveyor positioned perpendicular to the line flow.

View of back end of the line.

Shown at left is one of several indexing conveyors responsible for feeding parts to the main line. These indexing conveyors contained part locating nests and were manually loaded by operators. All MLS Systems equipment is well guarded especially in areas where there is operator interface.

This view inside one of the piercing stations shows the up-acting platen of a four post press and three rails and support tooling of the main transfer system which were guided by Camrol clusters. This transfer system carried 3-ft by 9-ft panels a distance of six feet in approximately 1.8 seconds to help in achieving the overall line cycle time of 12 seconds.

In this station a reinforcement bracket gets added to the panels.

One of several indexing conveyors on the line.

The view depicted left shows one of the up acting crease stations and the operator control panel with a Uticore display screen used for machine diagnostics by the operators and technicians running the line.

View from above down a section of the main line.

View of two of the indexing conveyors on the line.

One of the primary requirements of this cabline project was that the new system had to fit in the place of the existing main line production system. This meant that the old system had to be torn out before the new cab line could be installed in it's place. The teardown and install of the new main line equipment also needed to be installed and ramped up to full production in less than four days during a designated shut down period.

This line was designed to achieve an 8.5 second cycle time and has also set records for part quality and equipment uptime at the facility where it is installed.


After leaving the production line the product was transferred to the 2nd floor monorail conveyor at the customers facility. Here you see the temporary part exit chute that was installed at MLS Systems so production simulation and testing could be performed before shipment and installation at the customers facility.

Interlocked perimeter guarding was installed on the line. Per customer request guarding was located away from the equipment to allow easy access by maintenance and qualified personnel.  

View of in-feed sections of the cab line.

This view shows UHMW Polyethylene tooling mounted and Camrol cluster guiding on the dual rail transfer shuttle system. This dual rail transfer shuttle utilized a cam driven indexer to transfer parts between the stations. Parts were transferred approximately five feet in 1.2 seconds.

This view shows the conveyor interface section between the stamping press and the main line transfer. The plastic roller top chain in-feed conveyor was preferred by the customer for its non marking properties and durability. 

The cabinet U fold section shown in this view receives blanked panels from the main line transfer then clamps them and folds them into a box shape before welding the corners to secure the cabinet shape.  

This indexing conveyor is manually loaded and interfaces with a 4 station overhead panel transfer system which automatically feeds panels to the main line. Our customer feels a good balance between automation and operator interface was achieved on the line.  

This view shows the (AC-inverter driven) gantry style transfer system which feeds panels to the main line. This four station transfer system also included a panel bending operation before marriage to the cabinet on the main line. Redundant vacuum systems were incorporated to insure reliable retention and placement of the panels for welding. 

This view shows a small overhead pick and place bracket loading station. This unit pulled brackets from a manually loaded accumulating queue conveyor and placed them onto the cabinet on the main line where they were welded into position.