Small company masters random bin picking with UR5 cobots and boosts output by 11 percent
01 The Short storyJenny | Waltle lives and breathes the idea of Lean and the Kaizen philosophy, enabling short delivery times and high quality. With its optimized manufacturing operations, the supplier recently proved its strengths in the most challenging discipline of automation “bin picking”. Two cobots from Universal Robots pick randomly oriented parts from a box and feed a CNC mill – delivering greater process reliability, and a zero-fault production. All this was achieved despite the prevailing lack of skilled employees.
02 The Challenge
For the Austrian Company, that produces aluminum, metal and plastic parts, it’s quite difficult to find qualified labor. The Vorarlberg region has full employment. To continue growing, Jenny | Waltle needs to automate.
Having initially started with the use of a conventional industrial robot, the company quickly realized that it needed a more flexible solution. “As soon as small batch sizes are involved, simple operation is what really counts. This is the only way we can quickly modify a system to manage new orders. Performance is secondary,” explains Sebastian Schuler, Design Engineer at Jenny | Waltle.
The supplier’s CNC machine park handles batch sizes between 500 and 5000 units. “At Automatica 2016, we became aware of Universal Robots. The intuitive user guidance and the technology’s tremendous flexibility convinced us immediately,” recalls Waltle.
Video — Jenny | Waltle GmbH, Austria
03 The Solution
Together with the UR partner STB Steuerungstechnik Beck, Jenny | Waltle developed a bin picking application with two UR5 cobots. “Manual presorting of the components was no option for us. That wouldn't really have been 'lean',” says Waltle explaining the decision behind the solution.
In two-shift operations, the cobots handle up to 2,400 aluminum parts per day. To achieve this, Jenny | Waltle integrated a 3D camera system. The external camera initially scans the aluminum parts and generates a 3D data set – a so-called scatter plot. This enables the first cobot to identify the complex surface structure, as well as the precise positions of the objects. Equipped with a vacuum gripper, the cobot then takes part after part out of the box. An additional axis at the tool flange enables the cobot to execute collision-free and exact workpiece handling. To guarantee gripping precision, the cobot aligns the part in a temporary tray. If the part fits correctly, the UR5 places it into another tray. From there, the second cobot picks the part and precisely places it in a hydraulic clamp of the CNC mill. After processing, the cobot removes the parts and the first UR5 finally places them into another box.
The UR5 cobots can be converted to feed the CNC machine with new parts in less than an hour. For this purpose, the company has modularly designed the workstation of the cobot colleagues. Program codes for twelve different components have been installed and can be called up in the system immediately. The shelves and clamping devices can be easily exchanged.
“The quality increase we have achieved thanks to the Universal Robots cobots is incredible. We haven't had a bad part since we started using them. This enables us to guarantee our customers high-quality products, now and in the future,” comments Waltle. In addition to a zero-fault production, the supplier has been able to boost output in the application area by 11 percent within twelve months.
UR5 cobots feed a CNC mill increase quality of parts and efficiency.
The cobots can be quickly converted to perform new tasks.
The UR5 feeds the workpieces with utmost precision and consistency onto the hydraulic clamp of the CNC mill.
- Aluminum, metal and plastic parts
- Flexible, feed CNC mill with twelve different parts
- Constant, work in 2-shift operation
- Easy programming and changeover within one hour
- Reliable, ensures zero-fault production
- Safe and collaborative, after successfully completing the risk assessment
- Machine Tending
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Collaborative robots are Cost-effective, safe and flexible and they are making automation easier than ever, even for the small and mid-sizes companies.