Products used: Automaker changes gears without changing grippers

Original equipment manufacturer Moore Controls used Festo HGPLE electric grippers to help an automaker’s transmission operations eliminate costly changeovers.


Automation gantry with two Festo servo grippers and V-shaped gripper fingers. The grippers are mounted to a Festo pneumatic cylinder to allow finished part pickup with one gripper and raw part placement with the second gripper. Courtesy: FestoTo meet the imperatives of global manufacturing agility, one of the world’s largest automakers recently tapped Moore Controls, Dexter, Mich., to provide new technology solutions for automated transmission manufacturing. The automaker asked Moore Controls to provide a new material handling system that would transport workpieces through various manufacturing cells, starting with turning steel blanks into finished gears for further assembly. Products used in the project follow. See related article about the application.

Steve Moore, president of Moore Controls, said that to meet the most critical challenge of picking and measuring the right part, the company selected gripper model HGPLE from Festo, Hauppauge, N.Y., the automaker’s preferred supplier. These are parallel, two-finger Festo HGPLE grippers, and use a 24 V dc motor with an encoder designed for electrical controls.

Multiple Festo servo gripper controllers mounted to the automation cell guarding. Courtesy: FestoThe grippers are mounted to standard pneumatic components: Festo Model DNC ISO cylinders for horizontal and vertical part rotation; Festo VTSA valve terminals; and MS-Series air-preparation components.

At each cell a motor controller communicates directly to a Siemens programmable logic controller (PLC) via Profibus network using the ProfiSafe machine safety protocol. The PLC calculates the absolute position of the gripper fingers and sends direct commands to grip and measure each part.

Rear view of set of five Festo servo grippers on automation gantry showing power and communication cables to the grippers. Courtesy: FestoThe overall solution, a hybrid of electromechanical (HPGLE) grippers supported by pneumatic components, is unified in its use of standard control components. Components include Festo’s modular CPX I/O system, designed for fieldbus networking with electrical and pneumatic controls and Festo’s VTSA I/O valve terminal interface.

The automaker is “pretty darned happy with the results, from what we’ve heard,” said Fletch Davidson, salesman at Moore’s Festo distributor, Shaltz Automation, Flint, Mich. “They have more than 20 automation programs underway that I know of, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this project leads to more for Moore Controls.”

Moore says the project has led to “quite a bit” of growth, and exposed his company to a broader network of machine tool builders that may lead to further new business opportunities.

 - Bryan Morehouse is automotive industry project engineer, Festo. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, and Consulting-Specifying Engineer,


Festo is a CSIA member as of 3/05/2015

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