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Docking Station / Docking Hardware


Active member
Not sure what to call it, or does it exist?

I am building an assembly machine, that will be fed by a couple of Bowl feeders. Several different products will run in the machine, and the customer will have to be able to switch the tooling in the machine, and swap in another bowl feed to feed various different parts into it.

The linear rails from the bowl feeder to the assembly station are easy to swap out, And the bowl feeders can roll up to the machine and plug in the power cords.

Is there a standard receiver/docking plate that will align the two stations together?

I pictured making something out of 5/8" ( 16mm) plates, with a couple pf dowels in them.
Get the bowl feeder close to the machine, and tighten up the bolts in the alignment plates, and the chute and the linear rail should be all lined up again.

Is there a standard part for this?
No need to re-invent it if it already exists.

If not, is there something I am overlooking?

Thanks again!

Muffler Bearing

New member
I highly recommend picking up a copy of Carr Lane's "Jig and Fixture Handbook"

You can read the majority of it here (From Carr-Lane itself!)

There are a lot of ways to fixture two pieces together. As you said before, you can just use dowels if you don't have to change it in and out that often. From there, the skies the limit as far as complexity goes.

As far as your specific "docking" application, I have seen a piece of equipment which uses air cylinders with a "bullet-nose" point attached to the rod that extends into a drill bushing in the platform to dock it in place. It is pretty darn reliable.


Active member
Thanks for all the ideas so far.
It doesn't want to be a complicated clamping contraption..
I'm thinking a couple of flat plates, and a couple of dowels to line things up..

How it will get used, is the assembly machine will have multiple tooling sets.
Assembly type "5" may have a different bowl feeder ( mounted on a bowl feeder cart) than the bowl feed feeder for the parts in Assembly type "2".

The idea is to roll up bowl feeder "5" and clamp the docking plates together. The plate on the assembly machine is always fixed, and the one on the bowl feeder cart(s) are adjustable. Once the rails are all aligned, the adjustments on the bowl feeder docking station is tightened in place, and the next time they roll the bowl feeder into place, everything will align with the two docking plates.
Bowl feeder "2" will be aligned the same way, and anytime you roll a bowl feeder up to the machine, everything will always line up.

The plates don't need to be fancy, with retracting pins, air cylinders, ball locks, etc.

The ->Mounting for the docking station on the bowl feeder tables should be adjustable, and lockable once it is aligned.

It is that adjustable/align-able mount and possible the mating docking plates that I thought would have been a standard product for I assumed would be a standard problem.

Maybe I just invented something new... ?
Or is there a reason no one else does this sort of thing?


New member
Looks like your on the right track. We always do a simple plate or weldment. Then once everything is located and tested, dowel pin it or pushpins from carr-lane works well too. Depends on how accurate you need to be.