FPC Loading and Unloading by JAKA Zu 12 Cobots
About the Company
One of the largest flexible printed circuit manufacturers, assemblers and suppliers across the globe. We strive to target our solutions within the electronics market and focus on applications where flexible printed circuits are the enabling technology in achieving a desired size, shape, weight or functionality of an electronic device.
In the production of printed circuit boards (PCBs), one of the standard processes is screen printing. For this, the company utilizes large printing machines that can process two panels of flexible printed circuit (FPC) material at a time.
The process of loading and unloading the FPC to and from the machine was deemed by the company to need improvement for a few reasons.
- First, the set capacity for one day of work was around 2,000 pieces, which was insufficient to fulfil all the orders that were being received.
- Second, the conditions for the workers loading and unloading were not ideal – it was a yellow-lit area, with a strong odor of ink, and the repeated lifting of the FPC panels was physically demanding. This led to a high turnover of staff, which meant for additional costs in training.
- Third, because of the high staff turnover, and the repetitive nature of the task, the production process was inconsistent, and errors were common.
The solution was to automate the task, and for this, the company chose to integrate six JAKA Zu 12 cobots. Fitted with suction cup end effectors, they are able to easily transfer two panels at a time from the supply area, into the machine, then back out of the machine onto a storage rack after printing. They’re able to carry out this operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- The cobots were chosen instead of traditional industrial robots for several reasons. One is their size – compact and light, they were easy to mount in the middle of the three zones of operation (supply, machine, storage), and navigate between them in a compact space.
- Another is their safety features. The factory floor is a collaborative zone, where humans work alongside the robots and machines. Thanks to an in-built torque feedback module, the JAKA Zu 12 cobots don’t need safety fences, they cease operation upon the detection of any collision, ensuring the safety for those nearby.
- Finally, the cobots’ flexibility. They were installed and operational in less than a day, and can easily be re-assigned to new tasks by in-house employees if needed.
- Thanks to the six cobots installed, twenty employees that were formerly saddled with manual work are now able to focus on more creative, intellectually fulfilling tasks. Further, half of them who previously had to work night shifts are now able to work days, ensuring a better quality of life overall.
- After automation, production capacity rose by 20%, the problem of high staff turnover was solved, less money and time needed to be spent on training, and production became consistent and error-free.
- The return on the investment was quickly earned, with a payback period of less than two years.
For 3C electronics companies these affordable, compact, safe cobots are providing a competitive advantage in the production of high quality, high quantity goods.
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Building 33-35, 610,
Jianchuan Road, Minhang District,