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.
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.
The business transformation
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."