To meet increasing customer demand, Schneider Electric wanted to make its production more efficient and more flexible. The decision was made to automate a number of repetitive tasks using robots, such as loading electrical parts into a quality check station, allowing employees to carry out more value-added tasks.
Electronic components are being used in more and more devices and are becoming increasingly versatile. This means that, while the production of these components is constantly growing, additional models of each component have to be manufactured. This places a considerable burden on the production process, which faces an additional challenge, such as the shortage of labor. Especially because precision – a strength of robots and collaborative robots – is extremely important in component production, automation is an obvious choice in this industry.
But automating a production line involves much more than simply installing a robot or cobot somewhere. In addition to the mechanical integration – after a thorough risk analysis – the necessary security must be put in place, existing equipment (and often also the accompanying software) must be modified and, of course, the employees in question must be given a short training to work with the new system. Since the existing production architecture had to be maintained, the options were somewhat limited. In addition, the chosen solution had to be able to deal with small variations in the products passing through the machine. An important role is reserved for the local integrator here, in this case ICA Industrial Automation, which works closely with Industrial Cobotics, the Belgian distributor of Universal Robotics.
The decision to automate as many repetitive tasks as possible in the production line is part of Schneider Electric Group’s global strategy. The use of the collaborative robot in the Uccle production facility is part of the Smart Factory project. This involves trying out configurations with robots or cobots in various factories and sharing the experience with the rest of the group. The aim is not only to increase productivity and meet customer needs, but also to improve employees’ working conditions.
When the decision was made to invest in an automation solution, Schneider Electric experts visited a number of trade fairs, where they learned about Universal Robots’ cobots. It soon became clear that this was the ideal solution to achieve the goal they had in mind. With the help of the local distributor, Industrial Cobotics, and the specialized integrator ICA Industrial Automation, they managed to implement the cobot into their production process in a few months. As is quite usual with larger companies, and especially with a high-tech manufacturer like Schneider Electric, a lot of the work was done in-house. Nevertheless, the free courses that are provided through the UR Academy platform came in handy in the programming phase.
“The main advantage of Universal Robots’ cobot is its flexibility, which allows it to be adapted it to different projects,” says Simon Broze from ICA Industrial Automation. “Even with relatively complex movements,the mechanical integration poses few problems. Add to that the high precision and repetitionof the movement, and you have a very satisfactorysolution for the challenge that had to be met.”
For more information: www.universal-robots.com