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“Smart Pallet” Design Using Optoelectronics And Programmable Microcontrollers

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Electrical & Computer Engineering Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1435.1 - 9.1435.8



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Paper Authors

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Richard Johnson

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1532

“Smart Pallet” Design using Optoelectronics and Programmable Microcontrollers

Richard T Johnson Ball State University Muncie, Indiana

Introduction: The project goal was to design and implement a cost effective and autonomous product transport device capable of functioning in an automated assembly line manufacturing environment. All the information necessary for the automated assembly of a finished product accompanies the product through the manufacturing process. Specific assembly information is communicated from the device to each assembly workstation using a specialized wireless infrared system with a programmable microcontroller. This proof-of-concept project was one of several components in a Manufacturing Engineering Technology senior capstone course. The resulting device was given the name “Smart Pallet” by Dr. Wesley Baldwin who also presented the original concept for the project.

Background: The operating environment for this project is a student constructed computer integrated manufacturing (CIM) laboratory. A 15 foot by 6 foot oval assembly line track is the central component in the CIM laboratory. Assembly workstations are positioned at several points around the outside perimeter of the assembly line track. In addition, GE Fanuc PLC’s, Mitsubishi Movemaster robots, and IBM class personal computers.

When the services of a workstation are needed, stop pins in front of the assembly workstation are triggered halting the movement of the pallet. Another set of pins are then activated lifting the pallet off the assembly track. Next a transport arm extends under the pallet, the pallet is lowered onto the arm, then the arm and pallet are retracted to the workstation assembly position. When the workstation assembly process is complete, the sequence is reversed placing the smart pallet back on the assembly line track.

Historically students in the Manufacturing Engineering Technology (MET) capstone course are charged with enhancing, replacing and/or adding one or more major features in the CIM laboratory. Student activities can include everything from fabricating machine parts to bit level programming of microcontrollers. Students are assigned to project teams, inter-team and intra- team communications are stressed as absolutely critical for the success of the course project. Typically each student is required to maintain a chronological activity journal, and each team

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Johnson, R. (2004, June), “Smart Pallet” Design Using Optoelectronics And Programmable Microcontrollers Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13146

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