ActiNav flexible machine loading is the only option to automate Flywheel’s machine tending operations
In Flywheel’s ActiNav application, the UR5 cobot picks parts from a deep bin and places them in the jaws of a machine that indexes to multiple stations to perform multiple tasks such as drilling, chamfering, and internal and external threading. Ultimately, the ActiNav system will process as many as 1,500 different part numbers, so it must be quickly programmable to pick parts of different shapes, sizes, and weights. “The biggest advantage to ActiNav is that it can take randomization of parts being dumped in a bin, and as the bin gets low, a person can just come by and dump some more into the bin and it will keep picking parts,” explains Northway. “It doesn’t have to be reset, recalibrated—anything. It notices the bin amount changed and it keeps on going.”
The UR cobot uses a vacuum gripper to pick up each part. ActiNav verifies pick success and the cobot presents the part to the integrated scanner to ensure that the part is correctly oriented before placing it in the machine. Because the parts are oily and can easily shift position, ActiNav does validation checks throughout the routine to verify placement and make sure the robot precisely hits the target in the angle and position required. If the image sensor recognizes that a part has changed position, making it unplaceable, the cobot drops the part into a reject bin. During the course of the day, an operator empties the rejected parts back into the bin, where ActiNav can re-pick them successfully the next time.
Cobot is quickly deployed in TIG and MIG welding application for 4-5X productivity increase
With a fast-moving, high-mix manufacturing environment, Flywheel has also deployed the UR cobot without the ActiNav kit in TIG welding applications. Northway found the integration with the welder to be a straightforward process. “One of the really nice advantages of the UR robot and the software is you’re able to take a CAD file and output a G-code tool path like you would use on a mill,” he says. “The robot will follow that tool path and give you really good, precise control over where your welds end up going on your part.”
Northway is able to program new welding applications in as little as 15-20 minutes. In the first six months, the UR cobot has welded tens of thousands of parts with no problems. Welding productivity has also surged. “Prior to the robot, we were averaging about a minute cycle time for a person to weld them manually,” Northway explains. “With the robot doing the TIG welding, you simply drop the parts in the fixture, clamp it down and hit start, and it welds that part now in 14 seconds. Our throughput is four to five times greater than having one person welding continuously.”