UR5 Packs Two Million Circuit Boards Per Year and Increases Productivity by 25 Percent
01 THE SHORT STORY:Melecs EWS installed a cobot application that enables the electronics manufacturing service provider to package two million printed circuit boards per year at a lower cost. With a special gripper design, a UR5 handles several work steps at the same time and, among other things, handles three PCBs simultaneously - the result is a 25 percent increase in productivity in the application work cell.
02 THE CHALLENGE:
In order to realize its rapid growth, Melecs was looking for a way to automate more cost-effectively and faster than with conventional solutions. With an innovation project, the Austrians wanted to evaluate to what extent collaborative robots could complement the global automation strategy.
In cooperation with Fraunhofer Austria Research, Melecs EWS first identified a suitable process for the pilot project that would relieve employees from repetitive tasks, choosing the packaging of electronic components for water pumps in vehicles as the first task to automate with cobots. The monotonous handling of the small, round printed circuit boards was previously carried out manually in three-shift operation.
The requirements of the application were quite demanding: "The greatest challenge was to meet the very short cycle times of five to six seconds packaging time per module," explains Titanilla Komenda, robotics engineer at Fraunhofer Austria Research, who was in charge of developing the system. "In order to be able to implement this in a stable manner, we chose the UR5 from Universal Robots together with Melecs. The UR robots have the best price/performance ratio. Moreover, UR has already proven itself on the market and can provide services for Melecs with a partner in the immediate vicinity."
Video — Melecs EWS GmbH, Austria
03 THE SOLUTION:
In order to meet the high requirements of the application, the UR cobot must perform a whole range of individual tasks. For this purpose, it was equipped with a custom manufactured gripper that combines three laser scanners, three flow grippers, and one vacuum gripper in a single solution..
After an employee has done the depanelization, she places a group of printed circuit boards in the working area of the UR5. The cobot then first scans three boards with the laser scanners. Afterwards, the three flow grippers grab one board each and place all three boards simultaneously in a tray which offers space for a total of 54 circuit boards. As soon as a tray is fully loaded, the cobot packs it into a box with the vacuum gripper. When a box is filled with trays, the cobot also closes the lid with the vacuum gripper. The crates are then ready for delivery to the customer.
"The UR robot packs around two million components a year without errors," Komenda explains proudly. "For me, this project proves that cobots can achieve really short cycle times.” Georg Loisel also draws an entirely positive conclusion: "With Universal Robots, we were able to achieve a 25 percent increase in productivity in the application cell. The robot runs absolutely stable in three-shift operation and we assume that it will pay itself off within 18 months. The UR cobots are an excellent addition to our automation strategy and we will definitely include them in future projects as well."
The gripper system can handle three boards simultaneously.
The automated process takes the strain off employees and frees up important resources.
Once a tray is fully packed, it is loaded into a crate for delivery.
- Electronics for automotive, white goods and industry
- Automate faster and more cost-effectively
- Consistency, works in 3-shift operation
- Short cycle times, handles 3 workpieces simultaneously
- Relieves employees from the monotonous packaging process
- Safe and collaborative, after successfully completing the risk assessment in close proximity to the person sharing the work envelope
- Pick and Place
Are you ready to automate your business?
Cost-effective, safe and flexible collaborative robots - or cobots- are making automation easier than ever, even for the small and mid-sizes companies.