Pick & Place of highly sensitive glass tubes with flexible Cobots
The company wanted to make better use of their employees’ potential and aimed to optimize its production processes.
This is why Hofmann Glastechnik GmbH started to automate repetitive, manual tasks. Now, the family business uses two collaborative robot arms from Universal Robots, automatically feeding highly sensitive glass tubes into a forming machine. As a result, the production process has been stabilized, the quality of the glass components has been improved significantly and the employees have been effectively relieved from monotonous tasks.
The plan was to automate the monotonous task of tending a glass lathe, to deploy skilled workers in more sophisticated and complex jobs and to improve the production processes. Therefore, the robots should be able to handle delicate glass tubes, which requires a very high level of precision. That’s why the Managing Director of Hofmann Glastechnik decided to implement two robots from Universal Robots.
“Glass products are extremely delicate. Even the tiniest fluctuation in temperature of the instruments has an effect on the outcome. In the past, our workers tended the glass lathes themselves. Interruptions in the process, even for a short time, meant that the machines cooled down repeatedly. Using the collaborative UR robots for the first time for this task, we achieved excellent results,” enthuses Robert Hofmann, Managing Director of Hofmann Glastechnik GmbH.
The two robot arms UR5 and UR10 work at several CNC glass lathes. They tend the machine for up to 11 hours each day. If required, the company can flexibly implement the robots at different glass lathes. Therefore, the company has developed a facility which allows them to switch the UR robots between the different machines with no problems at all. The robots are immediately ready for operation after the set-up has been changed in this way. Björn Uthe, Department Manager Machine Park at Hofmann, is also convinced by the usability of Universal Robots. “Handling the UR robots is very intuitive. Once you have understood the procedures and functions involved, literally anyone can operate the robots." Thereby, robot arms also lighten the work load for the skilled workers at Hofmann. “The UR robots have made our work so much easier. We used to have to move backwards and forwards between the glass lathes, parallelly feeding them all day long. We could hardly keep up with the production. With the UR5 and UR10 working with us now, I can spend more time on setting up the machines,” explains Björn Uthe.
By using the flexible robot arms, Hofmann is not just able to deploy its skilled workers in more sophisticated and complex jobs but also to stabilize its production processes and to reduce downtimes. Due to that, both the quality of the glass components and the efficiency of the company have been improved significantly. So the company was able to increase its production capacities in the specific application area by 50 percent and the original investment in the robots was paid off in around 6 months.
Hofmann Glastechnik GmbH
Electronics and Technology
Technical glasses for laboratories, the medical field and industrial appliances
Machine-tending, pick & place
Key Value Drivers:
Precise, constant, flexible, collaborative, safe, easy programming and fast setup