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# EL-08 [Filename: EELUMBER.

DOC] Lumber Sorter Contributor: Affiliation Address: Phone: Email: Type: Student Time: Location: Mary L. McAllister IET Dept. / Belk Building Western Carolina University Cullowhee, N.C. 28723 (704) 227-7272 mmcallist@wcu.edu Design Problem Five to seven weeks Lab and research time Summary

## August 10, 1995

This is intended to be used with junior year electrical engineering students as a design problem that could incorporate either a microcontroller or programmable logic controllers in the solution. The student should have a basic understanding of one of the above. Students should divide into groups of three and brainstorm a solution to the lumber sorting problem in a furniture factory. The lumber for building the furniture frames is delivered to the factory in 3ft., 4ft, 6ft, and 7ft lengths. The operations manager wants an automated conveyor belt system installed so that the three and four foot lengths go to one department and the six and seven foot lengths go to another department. At the moment there is no automated system in place. Report: Five to ten pages plus a sketch of the design and any associated software.

ABET Descriptors Engr Sci Content: Type: Elements: Features: Constraints: Effort: Electrical, microcontroller applications or programmable logic controllers Component, system Synthesis, design evaluation Development of student creativity, open ended problem, alternative solutions, feasibility considerations Time, economic factors, safety Team

## August 10, 1995

The Operations Manager of Realistic Furniture Manufacturing wants an automated conveyor belt system installed in the factory. The lumber for making the furniture frames is delivered to the factory in three, four, six, and seven foot lengths. The three and four foot lengths are used in one area of the factory and the six and seven foot lengths are used in another area. He wants a conveyor belt system designed . The system will have a sensor that will sense the length of the lumber. The smaller pieces will automatically be directed to the chair making area and the larger pieces to the sofa making area. The system should also keep track of the total number of pieces of each length. Daily totals will be accumulated. At the end of each day the number of pieces of each size that come into the factory will be downloaded to the main computer. The main computer will keep track of order sizes and inventory control.

In doing this project you are required to do the following: Define the problem and the specifications that need to be met. Brainstorm possible solutions Explore computer simulation, graphics/visualization, microcontroller/PLC programming tools that are relevant to and available at the university to help you with this project. Set up a simulation using the small conveyor belt , PLC workstation or microcontrollers. Conveyor belt Actuator pushes shorter lumber to other conveyor belt

sensor

## August 10, 1995

1. A minimum five page written report plus a graphical representation of the design, and copies of any associated software. 2. An oral presentation of the design with visual aids.

## August 10, 1995

Engineering Notes: This problem is perhaps best implemented with PLC controls although a microcontroller would certainly work. As the professor you could make this just a simple project of finding a sensor that would sense the length of the wood and then send a signal to an actuator to push the shorter pieces off onto another conveyor belt going to another area of the factory. Or you could tell the students to consider economic factors, safety factors, simulations of alternate designs etc. Also, depending on the equipment you have available, the students could simulate the design implementation with PLCs, small conveyor belts etc. Some issues that could be brought out in class by the professor when the assignment is given.

What happens if two pieces of equal or unequal length are laying on top of each
other? What kind of devices are necessary so that you make sure only one piece of wood is measured at a time? How fast a system is needed? (board ft./second) Techniques that could be used to sense the length of the wood? Safety issues using a conveyor belt. What kind of conveyor belt is necessary? How wide, how long, what kind of material? Cost of conveyor belt system, cost savings over old system? Payback period. What safety features are necessary? What happens if the wood gets jammed? Emergency shutoff systems? Types of motors necessary to drive the conveyor belt system?