A Karakuri system, which uses straightforward mechanisation to achieve a lean manufacturing solution, increasingly forms part of production equipment design. The term stems from simple Japanese toy automata such as clockwork robots.
Deceptively simple ingenuity, together with counterweights, springs, cams and levers, can be applied to achieving small-scale industrial automation.
This often means no use of an external power supply is needed, and thus it is sometimes described as ‘low level automation’.
Building a Karakuri System with Flowstore
Most successful Karakuri applications are conceived and built by the user’s own lean engineers. They have the ideas and available time to experiment. Essentially each Karakuri is a prototype developed over a period by repeated experimentation and gradual development.
A number of specially designed FlowTube components in both the Steel & Aluminium ranges have particular application in Karakuri developments – sliding and rotating joints, pulleys, hinges, latches etc to help achieve low-cost automation. Karakuri and Kaizen are closely linked, with Kaizen being the philosophy of striving to change for the better.
Some solutions, such as ‘shooter’ racks, where replenishment containers are automatically off-loaded into a line-side rack, have been produced on a number of occasions, but in general the designs are very much container-specific, weight-specific and individually customised.
The majority of input required is the local ideas and available time to experiment with the various elements which might make up a final solution.
We presently do not offer a Karakuri design service for one-off racks because of the unknown time requirement (and thus unknown design and prototype cost) for its development.
However, many examples are visible on digital media to provide inspiration.
Where quantities of a repeatable solution are required, FlowStore may offer paid development budget costing for a Karakuri Kaizen system, following assessment of a written specification provided by the client.