Heemskerk, a medium-sized manufacturer of high-precision parts, was one of the first adopters of collaborative robots in Holland and has been relying on cobot automation in its production for over a decade. UR cobots load CNC machines and clean workpieces. By taking over these repetitive and monotonous tasks, they free up qualified workers from unpleasant or strenuous tasks, thereby improving the work environment and the ability to retain staff. Constantly changing products in varying batch sizes posed a challenge for the Dutch company with machines having to be reprogrammed for each order. For small batch sizes, that meant reprogramming every day.
The often very long cycle times of the CNC machines also meant that the tedious task of loading the machines tied up skilled workers valuable work time.
"In order to keep up with international competition, we have to work efficiently and need many production hours," explains Lucien Heemskerk, owner and technical director. "If you want to keep your production in the Netherlands, you have to be creative, think outside the box and do things differently than everyone else.”