Vice President of Engineering at Emtek, Birk Sorensen, first heard of Universal Robots from its parent company, ASSA ABLOY, that already has UR cobots working in factories in New Zealand and Romania.
“They suggested that if we were interested in robots—and we were encouraged to get into robotics—that Universal Robots was a good collaborative robot. It had the ability to work very closely with an operator in the same vicinity,” says Sorensen. “It did not need to be fenced off and we could quickly change programs between production runs. This collaborative approach has doubled our daily throughput per man-hour.”
The engineering team was surprised at the ease of installation that took about a week for the cell to be fully operational. “It was incredibly simple. It did not require all the heavy-duty programming we have with our CNC machines,” says Sorensen, whose team had no prior experience with robotics.
One of the production challenges now solved with the UR cobot is controlling the volume of the epoxy and the consistency of the dispensing. A task that had proved challenging to do with manual labor. Another challenge was troubleshooting rejects. “By having the Universal Robot dispensing the proper amount of glue, it just standardizes the whole process,” says Edgar Medina, Director of Production Operations at Emtek. “Now we can go back to the robot and look at the programming, the dispensing, the whole process. It’s under a controlled environment and we can pinpoint the issue right away.”
Emtek’s UR5 typically dispenses glue about seven hours every day. “In many cases we use the same pallet; but we just change the program and instead of using knob “A,” we would then turn to knob “B,” and maybe two hours later we’ll shift again to knob “C.”,” explains Sorensen, adding that Emt currently stores seven different programs on the robot. “The operator simply picks the correct program and the robot is up and running. It really is that simple.”