How Jamestown Plastics helped achieve automation goals. As they were installing a new automation line, Tyco Electronics realized that the line would not function properly to meet its automation goals without tight tolerance part locating trays. With a tight deadline, creating injection molding tooling and making parts was not an option. However, manufacturing a thermoformed tray that met or exceeded molded tolerances would be a challenge. Thus, they turned to Jamestown Plastics to solve the problem! We needed to design a high-tolerance process tray for an automation assembly cell. This equipment required both registration/positioning features on the bottom of the tray and position-critical, tight tolerance cavity features on the top of the tray. At the beginning and end of the line, the trays needed to stack consistently and be robotically picked. To fully understand the requirements, our team visited the plant with Tyco’s engineering group to review the equipment. The solution we developed was to combine two different trays as an assembly. The base tray was designed for stacking and locating the tray on the conveyor system, while the second tray would then provide internal alignment for the robotic pick/place of the parts into the process tray. During the manufacturing of the two trays, it was required to CNC machine each tray before assembling them as a tight tolerance finished product. We custom built an in-house assembly fixture to locate the inner tray to the outer tray. The final operation was finish machining the assembled units to hold the required tolerances. Not only was the side-to-side positioning critical, but the height was also critical to the function of the equipment. Jamestown Plastics very quickly met the requirements of this overlooked, key item to the automated system. Tyco was extremely happy and commended us for our timely and effective solution to keep this very expensive line operational.