Date of Award
Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)
Mechanical, Industrial and Systems Engineering
Insulated Faux Brick (IFB) is an improvement on traditional faux brick that aims to further reduce weight and installation time while providing insulation characteristics beyond traditional brick. In preparation for growing demand, the manufacturers of IFB are seeking to increase throughput and scalability through automation. One area of difficulty, for which the company has sponsored this project, is the assembly of corner bricks. Current production of corner bricks relies on human workers to apply adhesive and press together two end pieces until the adhesive has dried. This is a time-consuming step which is not easily scalable to higher production rates. Thus, this research explored potential automated solutions to meet the ever-increasing demand. Specifically, the concept discussed in this report uses a modular array of joining units that can be repeated to achieve the desired scale of production. These joining units use a combination of pneumatic and electric actuators to quickly align a pair of components and move them together after the glue is applied. Further, the low cost and small size of the joining units allows many to be grouped into a frame and serviced by a single operator. This concept was verified through the construction of a beta prototype containing two joining units and a low-cost glue dispensing system to service both units. The glue dispensing system was created by modifying a manually operated glue gun through replacement of the advancing mechanism with a linear actuator with feedback control. Production test runs conducted with the prototype showed very promising results. During these runs, the prototype was operated continuously with an average throughput greater than two bricks per minute. Further, the part quality of the bricks was similar to that of the manual process. Based on a critical path analysis of the prototype, a system containing eight joining units with the same modular architecture developed in this thesis has the potential for a three-fold increase in production rate per worker.
Whittaker, Zachary, "DESIGN OF AN AUTOMATED SYSTEM FOR CORNER BRICK ASSEMBLY PROCESS" (2020). Open Access Master's Theses. Paper 1826.