Industrial robotic arms at FME Feinmechanik AG.
01 The short Stroy
Universal robots implemented two of its industrial robotic arms, the ur5 and ur10, to provide greater flexibility for Switzerland’s FME Feinmechanik. With a new automated solution in place, the company made shift work a thing of the past and evolved its production processes.
02 the challenge
As a manufacturer of small, finely designed mechanical components, which are precision engineered for the medical technology sector, FME Feinmechanik AG required an automated solution that was able to offer complete flexibility, without any compromise on quality.
The company’s component range includes parts with extremely thin walls that were, in some cases, equivalent to half the width of a human hair, with production quantities that can be anything from 50 to 10,000 units. This meant that, in the past, the use of industrial robots had been ruled out, as they were deemed too cumbersome and immobile, as well as being seen as a threat to jobs.
However, FME Feinmechanik recognised the need to reassess its position, given that it had seen rises in costs, an emerging dissatisfaction among workers around the monotony of daily tasks and a growing demand for its products that only increased manufacturing volume could satisfy.
UR5 collaborative robot, FME Feinmechanik AG, Switzerland
03 the solution
Through Bachmann Engineering AG, a Universal Robots sales partner based in Switzerland, a fixed automated system was recommended that would ensure production could run efficiently, uninterrupted and to a high standard.
The ‘Bachman Machine Tender’ process meant one UR5 robot could operate two machines standing opposite one another, while the UR10 acted as a supply robot, positioning the next component for processing on signal from its UR5 partner.
According to Marco Bortolan, CEO and proprietor of FME Feinmechanik, the robots have been an incredible success. "My expectations regarding the robot arms from Universal Robots have been exceeded,” he says. “The combination of flexibility, easy programming and the fact that the robots can work directly with my employees without bulky safety housing were the factors which persuaded me to invest in this technology and make these changes in our business. Thanks t to the success and positive experience, I can easily imagine using more robots in the future.”
And while Bortolan admits “there is a preconception that jobs are lost where robots are used", he concludes this has not been the case for FME Feinmechanik. In fact, with a rise in productivity due to happier staff, unmanned night-time production runs and more competitive pricing, the company has actually had to grow its team with a new position created to help with processing.
- Freeing up staff for less repetitive tasks.
- Creating a consistent reliable process.
- Iincreasing productivity.
- Easy programming
- Flexible deployment
- Greater productivity
- Lower cost
- Milling and processing
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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.