Assembly Automation Case Studies: Pallet assembly system for automotive glovebox latch

Client: Southco Manufacturing

Part: Glovebox Latch

Machine supplied: Pallet assembly system for Glovebox Latches

Overview: This automated pallet assembly system was designed and manufactured in order to give the customer the ability to automatically assemble and test glovebox latches within their production environment. TQC developed this system alongside the client to allow them to produce quality assured parts at high speed fully automatically and so provide fully tested parts to their customer, a leading global vehicle manufacturer.

Download: Download details of this system as a PDF

Key features:

  • Fully automatic pallet transfer system with multiple stations
  • Automatic parts feeding using bowl feeders
  • Automatic part marking and packing
  • High volume throughput

The system shown here was designed and engineered for the automation of a glove box latch assembly for a high volume automotive manufacturer. The latch can be produced in different formats for different applications, hence a modular automation approach has been adopted.

An automatic assembly platen system
An automatic assembly platen system

The production volumes are large and hence the machine cycle time is relatively short. The system was supplied to Southco Manufacturing winners of the Management Today 2001 Best Factory Award.

This particular pallet transfer system is engineered to have minimum operator involvement. Component feeders are used for all parts, with vibratory bowl feeder systems allowing box quantities of product to be loosely tipped into the feeding bowls.

The output from the cell is automatically placed into shipping cartons at the unload station. The system takes six parts, including plastic mouldings and springs to assemble the latch. The part is tested for correct operation within the cell after the assembly operation is complete. The good parts are automatically ink jet marked.

The facility is completely guarded with aluminium extruded frames and clear guard panels. All of the openings for the component feeders are outside the guarded area, allowing the operator to top up the bowls without stopping the machine. The deposit point for the assembled and tested product is also outside of the guarded area. The carton filling system has an automatic carton change facility.

The production line has been engineered to allow for future variants of the similar high volume automotive latch mechanisms to be assembled on the same production line. The design of the assembly cell follows a modular approach; each element is wired and piped back to distribution points on each station.

Pallet assembly system detail
Bowl feeding of plastic moulding ready
for automatic assembly

The system incorporated a PLC control system complete with Human Machine Interface Panel. The HMI unit consisted of a display and function buttons, this was used to provide status information on the machine for diagnostic purposes and manual setting operations at each station.

Attention was paid to minimising noise levels on the shop floor by using acoustic covers. In addition, there was a roof on the guarding system over the pallet conveyor area for additional noise reduction and to keep the whole system clean.


To find out more about how we can help you with your pallet transfer and assembly systems:

We build all machines in-house, applying our 25+ years experience in specialised test and automated handling machines to the engineering projects we undertake. We offer customer support, backup and service call-out for all projects, whatever the size.

Get in touch with us to discuss your requirements and we will be happy to offer our professional advice and visit you at your site.

TQC Ltd, Hooton Street, Carlton Road, Nottingham, NG3 2NJ, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)115 9503561   |   Fax: +44 (0)115 9484642   |   E-mail: