According to the RIA (Robotic Industry association), in 2016, 34,606 robots were installed in North America alone. The main purpose of having robots in an industry is to reduce laborious, repetitive, and dangerous tasks. But to perform what they are intended to do, robots need material and parts to be fed in. This is where part entry accessories come into play. Automating this step helps industries utilize their workforce in other, more productive work.

What is a part entry accessory?


As the name suggests, part entry accessories are used to enter raw materials into the assembly line and fetch the finish parts. They are mainly used for inline production to present parts in a specific orientation to the automated machine.

These robot accessories are required when the robot uses bulk parts that need to be presented in a specific orientation. Using these accessories reduces downtimes, the risks for operators, and part mishandling.

Let’s go through some of the most common part entry accessories:

Vibratory feeder bowls:

These vibratory feeder bowls are self-sufficient feeder systems customized according to the supplied part. They comprise a bulk hopper, vibratory mechanism, feeder bowl, a controlling system, and a vibrating track to present the parts to the robot. Parts are fed into the bowl via a hopper and moved across the outfeed track to the part outlet. They can usually sort and process up to 45 to 60 parts per minute. It is used in assembly lines to feed a machine with small randomly sorted individual parts oriented in a particular direction.

Before choosing this option, it’s important to consider the size, the mechanical structure, and the behavior of the parts that will be handled. The reason for this is that vibratory feeder bowls are best suited for symmetrical geometry parts to ensure a specific alignment. When in function, the part moves from the bulk hopper to the bowl, and then, the part to be fed passes through the outlet and is delivered to the desired location.


  • Cost-effective
  • Variable feed rate
  • Customizable bowl
  • Different working mechanisms to suit the requirements
  • Fewer product damages
  • High efficiency and repeatability
  • Bulk part possible

This makes it popular in various industrial sectors: automotive, pharmaceutical, electronics, metal works, and many more, and for products such as screws, nuts, food packets, raw material for glass, etc.


The name itself reveals a lot about the feeding system. Instead of using a vibratory method, the Flexibowl segregates the parts using a servomotor that can go in both directions, and an impulse generator. It is perfect for irregular parts irrespective of their dimensions. When separated, parts are collected by the robot using a vision system to locate the parts.  The Flexibowl allows three simultaneous activities: dropping, sorting, and picking. It can feed up to 80 parts per minute and it is perfect for production lines with quick products changes.

Before choosing this part-entry solution, it’s important to consider the dimension and the geometry of the parts, the material, and the resistance


  • High throughput
  • Reliable and efficient
  • Low maintenance
  • Quick product changeover possible
  • Easy to install
  • Bulk feeder allows multiple parts feeding
  • Possibility of having 2 different parts in the same bowl

This type of feeder accessory is ideal for non-rigid materials, electrical components, and irregular parts. It is widely used in industries like cosmetics, automotive, and medical.

Flexible Feeding System (vibrating table):

This system is basically a table or a disc that, unlike vibratory bowls or Flexibowls, vibrates in all three directions to re-orient the parts. After that, a robotic arm fitted with a camera picks up the correctly oriented parts from the vibrating table and places them in the desired place. This part feeding system is compatible with 99% of parts irrespective of their complex structural geometry or materials. This flexible feeding system works on the principle of 3-axis vibration technology allowing a high efficiency, a maximum orientation change, and minimum damage to the parts.

Even if this solution is really versatile, it’s important to consider the size and the geometry of the parts to handle before choosing a vibrating table.


  • Accurate part identification
  • Easily configurable
  • Organized part orientation

This accessory is widely used in various industries from electronics to watchmaking and medical.

Even though the part entry accessories discussed above are in one way or another dependent on the mechanical structure of the part they feed, they increase the production throughput and allow better time management. Thus, even if these above-mentioned part-feeding accessories are famous in the industry, there are various kinds of part feeders available on the market. The ones named in this blog are just a few.

Stay connected to be the first to read our Part Entry Accessories for Robotic Cells  – part 2 in a few weeks.