Three collaborative applications with UR Robots help automotive supplier MANN+HUMMEL IBÉRICA increase productivity and optimize resources
01 the short story
The Spanish subsidiary of the German multinational group MANN+HUMMEL implemented three collaborative Universal Robots to optimize processes in the manufacture of automotive parts. The cobots, which work side-by-side with operators in precise machine-feeding tasks, have helped the company achieve gains in productivity without adding the cost of more operators or over-producing parts.
02 the challenge
MANN+HUMMEL IBÉRICA, the Spanish subsidiary of the German multinational group, is a leading manufacturer of high-quality products in the field of filters and technical plastic components for the automotive and industrial sectors. Located in Zaragoza, and with some 750 employees, it counts on vehicle manufacturers, as well as the most important spare parts distributors, as customers.
The company works continuously to improve manufacturing processes and is firmly committed to the automation of production lines to help it "achieve a clear reduction in costs, increase productivity and therefore maintain the competitiveness we need in order to retain our position as market leaders,” says Iñaki Calavia, Head of Process Engineering at the plant in Zaragoza.
Furthermore, in the case of some assembly cells, the company had to increase the performance of the production process in order to meet changes in customer demand but without adding more workers to the cells. In the words of Hervé Serrano, Process R&D Engineer and Technician: "It wasn't about reaching the highest productivity in the shortest possible time. We are using automation to make individual productivity gains in environments where the solution functions side-by-side with the operator.”
Video — UR10 Robot, MANN+HUMMEL, Spain
03 the solution
The MANN+HUMMEL team, with initial support from Vicosystems, Universal Robots’ distributor in the region, has created three collaborative applications using UR10 cobots.
The three applications are integrated into assembly cells where the transfer of parts is carried out automatically. The UR10 works together with the operator who is feeding a machine in an environment where it is difficult for the operator to enter easily or where he or she has to enter at a precise moment in the process.
Application 1: The cell synchronizes the loading and unloading of the welding machine perfectly to avoid a bottleneck. With the UR10, machine loading and unloading is done in just 10 seconds, compared to the usual time of 16 seconds when the task is carried out by a single human operator.
Application 2: The assembly cell was first configured according to a customer’s requirements in which a single operator was sufficient. A later change in the customer’s demand required an increase in productivity but not enough to justify adding a second operator. The solution was to add a robot whose function is to transfer parts between the welding machine and a verification machine. The robot waits until the part is finished, takes it out of the machine and delivers it directly into the operator’s hand exactly when needed.
Application 3: The team introduced a robot in the design phase as they knew from the start that one operator could not reach the required production output but that two operators was not an option due to the risk of overproduction. They designed a schedule in which a UR10 cobot working alongside a single operator to transfer parts between two different machines provided the precise output necessary to reach the target.
The distributors Vicosystems (involved at the start of the project) and SEA Zaragoza (todays distributor), add, "When the MANN+HUMMEL team explained to us the automation challenges they were facing and they were in a hurry to find a solution, we had no hesitation in suggesting a Universal Robots cobot. The integration time was minimal and after a brief training, they quickly learned to develop their own applications thanks to the flexibility and simplicity offered by the UR cobots. It is a pleasure to have been able to support them on this project.”
MANN+HUMMEL's experience with UR cobots has been so positive that they are already considering extending their use to other parts of the factory, and are considering the possibility of incorporating cobots for inspection tasks, parts packaging, and activities that do not add value to the product. They are currently testing a UR10 equipped with a Robotiq gripper 2F-140, as part of the development of a new packaging application.
- Increase productivity in line with client demand
- Optimize the use of resources
- Cost savings
- Truly collaborative applications
- Easy to install, program and use
- Quick integration into existing processes
- Machine feeding
- Transfer of parts
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