Phased Automation Strategy for Emerging Technology

Owens Design’s phased approach for developing manufacturing equipment in emerging industries addresses both market risks and product maturity issues. The phased approach strategy ensures capital efficiency while meeting the requirements for both ramping volumes and process flexibility as the product matures.


Business Proposition

Developing new technologies for emerging markets such as complex wearable device often require automated manufacturing processes.  However, market risks and product maturity issues dictate a phased approach to align manufacturing capital outlays.  Owens Design addresses these problems with a multiphase program approach that starts with up-front architectural considerations to leverage engineering investments, and developing equipment capability, from benchtop units to low volume systems to fully automated high volume lines, that can meet target production capacities.

Technical Details

Owens Design’s phased approach to factory equipment development starts with modular architecture definition, followed by high risk module proof-of-concept, culminating in a fully automated production line. In one example, the completed line consisted of over 36 process stations, 24 robots, 29 inspection & alignment cameras, and 19 computers.

  • Precision optical assembly and alignment
    • Alignment tolerances less than 25 µm.
    • Pressure sensitive adhesive application while preventing air gaps
  • Machine vision - pre and post inspection
    • Micron level alignment tolerances achieved despite difficult to image parts
    • Off-axis illumination, on robot end effector vision, long working distance objectives
  • Precision adhesive dispense
    • Adhesive dispense volume controlled to milligrams
    • Corona cleaning prior to bonding
    • Oven bake out integrated into line
  • System software, controls, data tracking
    • Individual part tracking thru 46 part processing stations
    • Over 400 data values and inspection images logged per part in real time to multiple distributed SQL databases
    • Tool recipes contain over 2200 individual recipe parameters
    • CC-link field bus connecting 24 robots and 4 PLCs for real time control and data collection
    • OPC-UA communications linking 19 computers and 4 PLCs for real time HMI updates
    • In-line process quality control with automatic part rejection
  • Functional testing
    • Automated calibration
    • Complete module test including optical parameters
  • Pre-production benchtop robotic workstations
    • Single robot with swappable end effectors
    • Standard programming interface
    • Suitable for engineering development and pre-production prototypes


“Owens Design’s combination of creativity and professionalism was exactly what we needed. Our team of engineers had strong opinions on the project. Owens Design was able to integrate their ideas and steer us towards an outcome that we are all proud of.”

Chief Product Officer