Manufacturing organizations are becoming increasingly dynamic and sensitive to market demand due to the use of collaborative robots (cobots), which have recently become a significant competitive factor. It proves that the successful integration of collaborative robots into the current industrial environment produces the desired results for the companies that adopt them in their operations.
Universal Robots is a Danish manufacturer and seller of such cobots, and they are a highly regarded company that has quarters all over the world and over 700 employees. They are positioned as a thought leader in the robotics space, and they specialize in cobot arms used in various industries. Below are some features and uses of their cobots that have created a buzz in manufacturing and production in all sectors.
The game-changing safety feature of collaborative robots
One of the main advantages of Universal Robots Cobots is that they have greatly helped to relieve machine workers in various industries from tedious, repetitive work that is risky. They can reduce the risk of personnel injury while increasing the production speed of high quality output. This aspect is possible thanks to the innovative robotic system of UR, which reduces the forces during contact when the robot tending to the machine bumps into someone.
The safety feature allows employees to safely enter and exit the robot’s work area and load or unload parts when needed. With the help of patented technology, cobots can also reduce its operating force to prevent injuries if the robot arm comes into contact with a human when entering the robot’s work cell.
With spatial detection and awareness, the robot can automatically start at full speed as soon as the employee exits its area. It is a significant improvement over conventional industrial robots, which are much less flexible and require safety caging to keep workers away from the work area during production.
Collaborative robot use in plastic and polymer production
Without a closed mold, injection and blow molding processes in the production of plastics and polymers cannot be effective. However, most employees find it difficult to carry out the tedious, repetitive and frustrating process of loading and unloading items from the machine. Such topics make this task perfect for automation.
Fortunately, there are some range and payload capabilities for UR robot arms. They can be integrated into existing facilities that produce high-mix, low-volume goods. Due to their flexibility feature, cobots are valuable for automating many other processes around a plastic manufacturing. This includes processing operations such as polishing, de-gating, grinding, and applying labels to plastic components.
Since most plastic producers use additive techniques such as 3D printing, cobots can operate continuously to keep the printing machines running smoothly. The wide reach of the robots, when installed on movable carts, allows them to load and unload plates from different printers. They are very precise in such tasks, which enables manufacturers to eliminate the common mistakes when human workers are involved.
All facets of manufacturing plastics and polymers, including injection molding applications, can use UR industrial robots in their operations. The IMMI (Injection Molding Machine Interface) option comes with the control box connector module and cable needed to connect the machine to a cobot. They also have user-friendly programming templates for quick and easy setup, simplifying connectivity and deployment tasks.
A case study
Trelleborg Sealing Solutions is a perfect example of a successful company using collaborative robots in the sector. The company is a Danish plastic and polymer manufacturer that needed a practical way to optimize production for orders ranging from a single unit to several million.
The new CNC machines used more cubic meters than conventional lathes. As a result, using traditional robots to optimize processes has not always been easy. The company spent years looking for suitable robots on the market, but everyone needed a safety cage. Accepting the options was impossible due to the difficulty of extending the current production function at their Danish manufacturing site.
Fortunately, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions decided to use the Universal Robots robot arms. They currently use 42 cobots from Universal Robots to perform machining tasks, especially on CNC machines, which allows them to achieve the precise and agile production required.
Collaborative robot use in CNC operations
CNC operations are also among the most automated applications. Cobots are ideal for these repetitive activities because they can work faster than humans and provide precise, constant motion for superior manufacturing quality and greater efficiency.
Some case studies
For example, Whippany Actuation Systems, a New Jersey-based manufacturer in the aerospace and defense sector, needed to expand its production capacity. Their most viable options were to add a second CNC machine and efficient robots to facilitate unattended machining. They improved their current machine by adding a second shift and introduced a cnc robot arm with a Robotiq gripper from Universal Robot.
This move allowed them to increase their output capacity by running the machine during unsupervised hours and also allowed their skilled staff to concentrate on other jobs instead of loading and unloading the machines. Because of the better margins, increased competitiveness and shortened lead times that come from automation, the company also decided to add two more manufacturing cells to its robot program.
Another successful collaborative robot adoption in automation is the RSS Manufacturing and Phylrich company, which produces sanitary fixtures and faucet fittings in Costa Mesa, California. The company discovered Universal Robots while searching for an effective solution to fulfill a significant and fast turnaround order of 700 valves.
Their previous CNC machine could handle 400 valves per month with two shifts, which was not enough even when they added a third shift, hence the need to get another machine. A Universal Robots UR5 was deployed by the company and employed around the clock. As a result, RSS Manufacturing & Phylrich fulfilled the order in 11 days, while adding 30% more capacity to the machine already in place.
The company also realized that the modern lightweight and adaptable cobots were easy to reprogram to work well with their different types of CNC machines in different operations such as pick-and-place, welding, polishing and gluing. They also mechanized all their manual activity by reusing previously defined scripts for repetitive activities to speed up replacement.
Cobot arms have the potential to add value to your company and provide a guaranteed return on investment faster than any other robot in the sector. With cobots, you can quickly change production lines for new products with the robot’s fast and flexible deployment. The robot’s portable size and lightweight features also make it easy to deploy in new environments when the workflow changes.