Date of Award
The primary purpose of this project was to maximize the efficiency in Eaton's tuft cutting process, which is an essential part of their manufacturing business. The current process is a poor use of both human and physical capital that creates an unnecessary financial burden on the sponsor company, Eaton Corporation. The primary source of this lost money is from paying highly skilled operators to perform tedious tasks beneath their skill-set. The team was tasked with minimizing these burdens either through a new process or by reducing waste in the current process. The primary goal was to decrease the amount of money spent per hour ($75.00), with a secondary goal of increasing throughput (currently $900 hour). The team was given 1 academic year and a budget of $3,000 to design and create a working prototype for Eaton to implement on their factory floor.
The group designed and prototyped an automated system that removes a considerable amount of human labor from the job, and with it, creates a large source of revenue which the company can better spend elsewhere. The prototype uses a two dispenser system to minimize jamming and reliably place the tufts for cutting. An electric actuator then pushes the tuft via the end weld bead into the pneumatic cutter. Finally, the cutter splits the tuft in two. The prototype does not currently include a cutting mechanism. The new system decreases costs by 60% and increases total output by 33%.
Aside from meeting the primary goal of reducing operator time, the group also met all other design specifications: the prototype has an emergency stop button, was built under budget, requires no PPE, and takes up less than 7 square feet.
Eaton expressed their satisfaction with the finalized project and plans on incorporating the design into their seal manufacturing process.
Joyal, Nathan; Guilmette, Jay; and Gale, Trevor, "Eaton Automated Tuft Cutter" (2018). Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design Projects. Paper 35.