Ricoh improves toner cartridge manufacture for latest product

Ricoh UK Products Ltd has worked with Mechatronic Solutions and HBM in developing a one-piece assurance system for the automatic assembly of its latest toner product for the European market. Once the bottle for the new toner product is filled it has to be fitted by an automated assembly machine with both a shutter and an outer cap that posed some production challenges.

Dave Roberts, Senior Project Engineer, Ricoh UK Products Ltd, says that there were two major concerns that needed to be addressed. Ricoh UK Products Ltd needed to ensure that the shutter was inserted correctly in a fixed position in the bottle which was a challenge because the new design features two clips that engage into two hollows in the bottle neck demanding a system that could detect whether or not the shutter was correctly inserted and whether any clips were damaged or missing.

The second challenge was to ensure that the outer cap was fitted correctly within a predefined torque specification and without being cross-threaded. In addition Ricoh UK Products Ltd needed to monitor the process ensuring that the cartridges were assembled correctly to reduce any rejection of completed toner cartridges at a later stage. Less material and time is wasted if parts can be rejected while being press fitted rather than later on in the production process.

The most efficient solution: A measurement chain from HBM

Initially Ricoh UK Products Ltd worked with its automation partner Mechatronic Solutions, who designed and built the assembly machines, to investigate possible solutions. After a lot of research it was decided that HBM’s equipment could provide the most cost effective solution that would achieve the desired results. Mechatronic Solutions is one of the UK’s leading providers of innovative automation solutions and systems integration services and aims to create processes and systems that can deliver economy, speed and quality to any manufacturing environment.

HBM’s solution is based on a PW15 single point load cell combined with an MP85A FASTpress amplifier utilising modules from its FASTpress suite of software to monitor and control the fitting processes.


The PW15 is a robust stainless steel load cell with uses in many different applications. It can be easily integrated in measuring equipment that is needed to perform reliably in tough environments for extended periods of time. The PW15 is also available both in explosion-proof versions and with IP68/IP69K protection.

MP85A FASTpress

HBM’s MP85A FASTpress can process data at up to 300 fitting cycles per minute ensuring maximum reliability even in very fast production lines. The MP85A FASTpress amplifier can acquire up to two measured quantities such as force and displacement or time while monitoring fitting processes. It features industrial fieldbus technology and digital inputs and outputs facilitating optimal integration into automation systems.

Data acquired can be stored either on the device’s memory card or downloaded to a PC while a report containing all process information can be produced for each process if required. Roberts remarks, “It is important for us to record and store all the data from the assembly process so we have traceability of our product. The HBM system has this functionality that had a direct bearing on the decision to select this equipment.”

FASTpress suite

HBM’s FASTpress suite comprises a series of powerful software modulesfor evaluating and analyzing data. Ricoh UK Products Ltd decided to purchase its EASYteach module to complement the hardware and used EASYteach to modify the original process-curves and determine the most suitable tolerance-windows as well as checking the OK/NOK process. Roberts comments, “We would recommend purchasing the extra EASYteach software as this really helped speed up the development of the systems”.


Everything automated

The HBM system has allowed Ricoh UK Products Ltd to push all quality critical functions onto its automated assembly lines instead of relying on manual operations. This ensures the quality of the finished product coming off the assembly lines and guarantees that only the very highest quality product is distributed to its customers. The solution also helps identify rejected assemblies at an earlier stage to reduce materials wastage.

Roberts adds, “The support from HBM in developing the system has been very good with a number of site visits during development. These proved invaluable in the successful implementation of the systems while the on-going support, both from the UK and Germany, has also been excellent.”

Yet, like any good engineer, Roberts is already looking to develop the system further to give added benefits. He says, “We would like to work with Mechatronic and HBM to capture the unique serial number created in our assembly machines and save these against each curve. This will complete the integration of our production facility to give us total product traceability.”

Roberts concludes, "Overall we are happy with the solution, it’s straightforward to use and develop with EASYteach and satisfies our quality assurance needs".

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