Case Study

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bwm Cuts Line-Side Trayfeeder Cycle Time By More Than 25%

Single-cable servo solution over EtherNet/IP also helps lower total cost of ownership, commissioning and installation time

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  • Already an established product, bwm wanted to introduce further technical and commercial improvements into its popular Trayfeeder



  • Faster cycle time – 20 seconds down to 14 seconds
  • Smoother and faster movements with reduced jerk
  • Reduced TCO, commissioning time and installation time
  • More flexible for future improvements
  • More attractive automation solution for export


Founded as Bremer Werkzeug- und Maschinenbau GmbH (bwm) in 1961, and now integrated into Hueck Industrie Holding KG, bwm has been planning, designing and implementing assembly technology for leading manufacturers across the globe for more than 50 years. Its customers come from all branches of industry and create unique assembly challenges to which bwm finds successful solutions.

Significant experience as a supplier to the automotive, electronics, electrical engineering, telecommunication, gauging and testing fields means that bwm can offer high innovation potential and a marketoriented approach to its customers’ requirements.

In industries such as consumer healthcare and automotive, there is an increasing demand for compact tray logistics solutions, for the supply and removal of components to production cells or lines. This led to the development of an autonomous delivery system, the bwm Trayfeeder. It is now used across the world in many industries and applications; primarily for the sorted feeding of fragile parts and components to help assure a safe assembly.


With regular orders coming from around the globe, bwm was looking to make improvements to the machine in terms of lower design and development costs, faster cycle times and greater market acceptance. It also wanted a single supplier for the automation solution and turned to Rockwell Automation to deliver a fully integrated motion concept that matched its needs.

The bwm Trayfeeder has to adaptable to many applications and products, using trays metal or plastic trays to deliver work pieces and assembly components at the correct time in the desired orientation, quantity and quality of the given assembly position.


In operation, the tray or charge carriers are loaded with assembly components and, depending on the application, they are then transported via a short conveyor belt before being individually released and proceeding to an unloading stack or station where they are positioned over a horizontal axle. A robot then removes the trays one at a time, as required, and transfers them onto the assembly line.

Once the parts have been used, the empty carriers are removed from the line and are stacked into a return stack ready for removal. Separate positions for the removal of parts and the support exchange help ensure that the work area of the robot remains uninfluenced by the actual exchange.

Available in three variants (360, 540 and 800 mm width) the tray feeder is a very versatile machine and can quickly adapt to new products. The machine can handle construction units up to a total weight of 20 kg and trays up to 400 mm (length), 600 mm (width) and 70 mm (height). With the capacity to handle carrier systems of different bwm can helps its users to adapt their Trayfeeders to their exact, optimum requirements.“

We have been using control technology from Rockwell Automation, since 2011,” explains Andreas Hahn, sales and project management for BWM. “And we decided to deploy it on the Trayfeeder because Rockwell Automation was able to implement our requirements quickly and easily. We also intend to develop and grow new markets and with its global acceptance, Rockwell Automation was an obvious choice from a business perspective too.”

In order to achieve the goals set by bwm, Rockwell Automation proposed an integrated automation solution composed of commercially available products. At the heart of the system is an Allen-Bradley® L18ERM CompactLogix™ programmable automation controller (PAC), which coordinates two Allen-Bradley Kinetix® servo drives in real time. These control two Allen-Bradley VPL series servo motors wired by single cable. An Allen-Bradley PanelView™ Plus 600 HMI for visualization and Stratix 2000™ Ethernet switch for communications complete the integrated automation solution. In addition to the supply of products and components, Rockwell Automation also provided the services of a Global OEM Technical Consultant (GOTC) – an application specialist – for a complete software conversion and a Project Manager to coordinate the process to take care of quality for all deliverables.

Thanks to the integrated architecture concept running on an EtherNet/IP™-based single network infrastructure the PAC is able to control the two servo axes in real time and deliver significant cycle time improvements, lowering it from 20 seconds to 14. A six second saving may not sound like a lot, but when considered cumulatively and in relation to other faster-cycling equipment in a production environment, the advantages of quicker component delivery really begin to stack up. The transfer motion is also smoother, with less jerking and pendulum-type movements. This helps to protect the mechanical structure and integrity of the machine.

By using Ethernet as the communication backbone, bwm has the option to expand the machine even further into the Connected Enterprise (IoT). This will allow it to offer a broad range of additional value-add functions to its customers, including the collection of real-time performance data, historical data for performance assessments and maintenance schedules and connectivity beyond the shop floor into enterprise systems that can help manage the equipment even more precisely in line with other assets on site. The use of standard Ethernet within EtherNet/IP means that there is very little that needs to be done for these connections to be established; and full security solutions are also available for user control and to prevent unwarranted access.


“The automation solution we have deployed from Rockwell Automation,” Hahn elaborates, “is cost effective, delivers a lower total cost of ownership and helps enable faster commissioning and the single-cable technology used by the Kinetix 5500 speeds installation. As it is now, with Rockwell Automation products on board, we can also target new customers outside of Europe, thanks to the greater acceptance of Allen-Bradley technology.”

“We are happy dealing with Rockwell Automation,” Hahn concludes, “and a testament to our good relationship is that we have already begun our next activities with the company. The feedback and support is very good and the commercial relationship in terms of support and marketing has been very professional.”

The results mentioned above are specific to this customer's use of Rockwell Automation products and services in conjunction with other products. Specific results may vary for other customers.


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