Rotary indexing dials, one of the first machine platforms used for automated assembly, are a very popular platform for many assembly and testing applications. Dial plates are mounted to either cam or servo controlled indexing drives which are tooled or programmed for anywhere from 4 to 16 indexing positions. Station nests or fixtures are equally spaced and mounted to the dial plate at each indexing position while corresponding workstations and tooling are mounted to columns positioned around the periphery of the indexing dial.
Rotary machines are typically limited to small and medium-sized lightweight assemblies requiring relatively low number of operations. Advantages of the rotary indexing dial platform include high productivity with rates up to 60 cycles per minute, high accuracy providing consistent assembly positioning, compact construction requiring minimum floor space, and ease of integration with standardized tooling and modules. If even higher outputs are required, dial machines can be tooled with 2-up station nests and work station modules for production rates of up to 120 parts per minute. While dial machines can be highly productive, ultimate output is however, limited to the slowest required operation.
As with most other machine platforms, the rotary dial machine can be designed to be either fully automatic or semi-automatic. Semi-Automatic indexing machines are best suited for lower volume and/or oddly shaped assemblies where automatic parts feeders would not be cost effective. Semi-automatic versions can also be designed to be upgraded to fully automatic versions once production volumes have increased sufficiently. Fully automatic machines are best suited for higher volume products which would benefit from reduced labor costs. They are also good candidates for being integrated together with injection molding or stamping operations.