The Fastener Delivery System (FDS) provides a new and unique method to automatically feed fasteners. The FDS is a compact automated system that conveys fasteners on demand to a user-supplied end effecter. The system may consist of up to six basic elements: a drum, a drum positioning system, a fastener lifting assembly, an escapement head, a jib crane, and a computer control system.
Systems are currently in use at Boeing’s Advanced Manufacturing Center in St. Louis, Missouri for the automated assembly of the F/A-18E Super Hornet. Each system can store over 8000 fasteners of 400 different varieties. Rivets, slave bolts, and threaded fasteners are conveyed on demand in non-sequential order with no changeover. Fastener dimensions range from head diameters of 4mm to 22mm and lengths from 6mm to 58mm.
The fasteners are stored in tubes, which are arranged in a high-density, radial pattern in precision machined covered drums. The drums act as “mini-warehouses”. Drums are interchangeable and uniquely identified with a barcode. The inventory of the drum is tracked in a relational database.
The fasteners are propelled using a fastener configurable, low air pressure stream. Fasteners travel on demand from the drum through the escapement shuttle and to the end effecter in a few seconds.
The FDS can be used in a wide variety of manufacturing applications in aerospace, automotive and marine systems. It is an alternative to vibratory and centrifugal bowl feeders where on-demand, high-reliability feeding of multiple fasteners is required. The FDS can be fixedmounted or arranged for portable use.