Materials Handling: Control for Bowl Feeder Gives Energy Savings, Gentler Feeding

Bowl feeder with new control adjusts its drive frequency according to the changing mass of its contents.

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Spirol International Corp., Danielson, Conn., has enhanced its Series 2000 bowl feeder with the new Mark VI controller having a 7-in. touchscreen, 50-recipe storage capacity, and Ethernet interface for remote access and control. This feeder is said to be well suited to handling fragile, tactile, or slippery parts in assembly processes.

A key new feature of the controller is the reportedly unique ability to continuously adjust the output drive frequency to match the natural resonant frequency of the drive unit. The feeder’s natural resonant frequency must be tuned at or near the frequency of the power source in order to achieve the greatest amplitude of vibration for a given power input. This tuning is done mechanically during initial setup of the feeder; however, the resonant frequency changes as the product mass in the bowl changes and as the springs relax from use. In conventional units, the feeder’s performance is thus adversely affected.

But the new control automatically senses the natural resonant frequency of the feeding system and continuously generates an optimal drive frequency to maximize efficiency. Variable frequency eliminates mechanical bowl tuning, allowing use of interchangeable bowls with a single drive. The result is lower average operating frequencies, which reduce part damage, bowl wear, and noise, as well as providing energy savings.

The controller also contains an internal capacitor bank that stores the discharge energy and recycles it back to the circuit on the next charge cycle. In conventional systems, all the discharge energy is lost to the line source. The result is that the Series 2000 feeder with Mark VI control uses 80% less amperage than conventional units, according to Spirol.

The Series 2000 also has independent horizontal and vertical axes of motion, which result in an elliptical movement of the bowl, providing smoother, gentler feeding with less part damage and noise. The Mark VI provides both variable amplitude and variable angle of motion, allowing for speeds up to 2.5 times greater than other feeders without excessive bouncing and noise.