Cutting and Milling Machine Tending by JAKA Pro 12 Cobots
About the Company
The company focuses on the manufacture of auto parts and accessories. It produces and sells isokinetic belts, and provides an after-sales service for additional auto parts and products.
The company had been operating a production line with 119 cutting and milling machines for some time, and had come to the decision that it was a good time for an upgrade.
The existing system required 60 specialists to work with the machines, across five machine tending areas, each of which made for relatively harsh environments. The specialists had to endure high levels of noise, a tight working space, and health and safety risks.
The company wanted to mitigate some of these factors, while reducing insurance, electricity and water costs, all the while improving the production cycle time.
While the process had already been automated to some degree, an evaluation of the latest automation technologies suggested that with the help of cobots, it could be fully automated. Such automation would also allow for an expansion in the number of machines utilized, thereby increasing production capacity.
For this project, a total of 56 JAKA Pro 12 collaborative robots (cobots) were installed. With the help of a cobot integrator, they were set to service 119 cutting and milling machines, across all five areas of machine tending. The effects of the harsh environment were mitigated by the JAKA Pro 12’s IP68-grade protection, meaning it is immune to dust, water and oil.
The company were clear about their expectations for constant production, and therefore chose cobots that can operate 24 hours a day, for 50,000 hours – almost six years – without interruption.
The cobots were set to work on the machining of various products, such as rotary inner hooks, intermediate shafts, three-pin shafts and more. The huge range of end effectors on offer meant that handling these items, despite their often smooth surfaces and idiosyncratic shapes, was no problem.
The integration of the cobots onto the production line took around a week, with each machining area taking around a day and a half. After integration was complete, the company wanted to make some small adjustments. Thanks to the drag teaching and graphical programming capabilities of the cobots, employees of the company were able to complete these adjustments without the need for a skilled integrator.
The results were that each of the challenges outlined in the initial review of the situation were solved for.
- Overall mobility increased from 90% to 98%, and production cycle time was reduced by 20%.
- Whereas before shifts took place five days per week, production is now possible seven days a week, increasing capacity and efficiency.
- In terms of ROI, the company expected the payback period to last two years, but in fact it lasted only a year and a half. This was helped by additional savings made on electricity, water and services/products involved in keeping human workers comfortable.
- More than 60 workers gained the opportunity to upskill, to develop their career further with the help of specialized automation knowledge, or to focus on more complicated, creative tasks. As a result, the rate of staff turnover was reduced.
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