Japanese Automotive Parts Manufacturer Doubles Productivity with Cobots
01 the short story
Aido Industry, a Japanese OEM manufacturer of automotive parts using aluminum die-casting and cutting processes , was facing a chronic shortage of human resources, resulting in a low profit margin despite increasing sales.. In the process of formulating countermeasures, the company analyzed its process work and found that many repetitive tasks, such as loading and unloading workpieces, were suitable for robots. Initially, the company considered introducing conventional industrial robots, but the high system cost was a deterrent. Since Aido Industry first discovered Universal Robots, the company has deployed 40 UR cobots.
02 the challenge
In the Aichi Prefecture region where Aido Industry is located, there are many large auto parts manufacturing companies and always a shortage of human resources. Labor costs, such as salaries for temporary workers, were high, and even if sales increased, profits did not. There are many repetitive tasks in the process, which Aido thought could be easily robotized, but they were unable to make the leap and introduce conventional industrial robots due to the high cost of these types of systems.
Video — Aido Industry, Japan
03 the solution
In 2016, Yusuke Watanabe, President of Aido Industry, encountered UR cobots at a trade show: "Until then, we thought it would be impossible to build a robot system without help of a system integrator, but with the UR cobot, we found out that we could do that by ourselves. So we decided to introduce it.”
Yoshiyasu Ogawa, Manager of the Maintenance and Die Casting Engineering Office, was involved in the development of the robot system. "Before, I was working in food industry, managing a restaurant, so I had no knowledge of robots. With the help of a distributor, Sangen Corporation, I was able to achieve what I wanted to get the cobot in operation.”
The first application deployed was the air blowing process for the workpieces after cleaning. To completely dry the complex shaped workpieces, it is necessary to blow into the holes. By attaching air nozzles to the cobot arm, it is now possible to dry even the narrow holes that are difficult to do manually.
Other UR cobots are in charge of machine tending for a series of processes involving ur machines: picking a workpiece from the conveyor, performing two leak tests, cleaning, and placing the workpiece on the finished product conveyor after air blowing. The robot hand is self-made so that it can handle multiple processes at once. Ogawa said; "We were able to reduce manpower by automating processes that used to be done by humans. Also, with humans, there is a possibility of skipping a process or misjudging a defective product as a good one, but by replacing them with cobots, we no longer have to worry about that.”
Over the past three years, Aido Industry has installed 40 UR cobots and doubled its productivity, but this is not the only benefit of introducing cobots. "The robots do not have the ability to detect problems on their own, but when the employees and workers in the factory find something not suitable in the cobot's movements, they change the robot program to make improvements,” explains Watanabe “By incorporating human wisdom into the cobot, we are able to further increase productivity. I think this is true collaboration," said Watanabe.
UR cobot model:
UR3 x 8
UR5/5e x 28
UR 10/10e x 13
A UR3 with a custom-made nozzle for the air blowing process, which makes it available to dry even the narrow holes that are difficult to do manually.
2 UR10e cobots are in charge of machine tending for a series of processes involving four machines; here a UR10e picks up a workpiece from the conveyor to put it in a leak test machine.
The workpiece will be then transferred to cleaning and blowing process.
When the employees and workers in the factory find something not suitable in the cobot's movements, they change the robot program to make improvements.
- Improved profit margins by introducing cobots
- Doubled productivity in 3 years
- Easy to learn programming
- Robot system deployment can be done in-house without external experts
- Air blowing for workpieces
- Machine tending for multiple machines such as leak testers, cleaning machines and air blowers
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Cost-effective, safe and flexible collaborative robots - or cobots- are making automation easier than ever, even for the small and mid-sized companies.