Grand Coteau, LA – Noble Plastics, a product realization company headquartered in Grand Coteau, was selected as a finalist for FANUC America’s Innovative System of the Year competition. FANUC America recently hosted their Innovative System of the Year competition which was open to all their North, Central, and South American Authorized Integrators. Three finalists are chosen based on their use of FANUC’s technology, system deployability, and uniqueness amongst the competition. Noble Plastics, a South Louisiana molder with sixty-two employees, was selected as a finalist for a robotically tended injection molding cell. Noble Plastics has been in the plastics molding industry since 2000, utilizing automation for eighteen years, and has been an Authorized System Integrator for eight years.

This diverse background was key in winning the bid for their customer, Geospace Technologies. The project’s lead automation engineer, Josh Babineaux, and process engineer, Matthew Bryant, led an experienced team to create a refined, three robot cell. The system utilizes force sensing technology and a dual camera inspection station for incoming substrates that will be inserted into a mold for an over-molding process. The combination of technology used allows for any operator to interact with the cell without the need for extensive robot training. Typically, any error recovery or calibration require an operator to utilize a teach pendant to manually jog, or move, a robot into a safe location to reset the cycle. With this Noble Plastics designed system, there are auto error recovery and self-calibration options that are activated with the push of a button.

Auto recovery and calibration were requirements for this system due to the high change-over rate for the molds. The cell handles four unique molds that can produce up to twenty-four final product variations. This wide array of possibilities during any given shift demands a robotic system that is smart enough to safely handle the finer details. One of the substrates has three individually wired pins that will change position based on wire movement or vibration. The Noble team wrote an additional step in the process for insertion of this substrate to momentarily slow the movement of all three robots to reduce the overall vibration of the cell to prevent insertion failure, resulting in a greater than 95% insertion success rate.

This was Noble Plastics’ first submission to FANUC’s annually held competition. All submissions are reviewed by FANUC America’s Authorized Systems Integrator Network for the following qualifications:

  • Intelligence – vision, laser, or force sensor technology
  • System Flexibility – multiple product handling
  • Market Advantage – opportunity for multiple installations
  • End User Benefits – benefits for end user
  • Overall Innovation – scoring on overall innovative

Submissions require a video outlining the use of technology in the system, a simulation of the active cell, and video of live demonstration of the process. Noble Plastics worked with Geospace Technologies to film and present this currently active system, and to outline the important technical highlights. Once selected as a finalist, Noble traveled to Miami to attend FANUC America’s Authorized Systems Integrators Conference to present to fellow integrators. Aimee Daigle, Noble’s Engineering Manager, gave the presentation expanding on the finer details of the system. Final voting was held after all three finalists present using text-in count. While Noble Plastics, the sole finalist from the plastics industry, did not take the title this year, the team is proud of the robust system they created, and is excited to begin their next endeavor.


Injection Molding Automation Systems Deliver Customer Value

Injection molding automation systems have gained traction amidst supply chain constraints, labor shortages, and growing demand for manufacturing services. Automation and robotics have all evolved to better support part and mold design, molding processes, and upstream and downstream operations. In addition, it allows the injection molder to deliver additional value making the quality-to-total cost ratio highly competitive.

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