PrecisionForm, a market leader in small custom metal parts, was challenged to automate the task of picking parts in deep bins and inserting them into a CNC machine. The company deployed Universal Robots’ ActiNav system for flexible machine loading, enabling them to boost competitiveness, overcome labor challenges, empower their workforce and extend the lifespan of older equipment.
The business transformation
What’s the biggest headache in automating a task? How to present the part to the robot. This was the conclusion PrecisionForm quickly reached when automating their initial project; deploying a robot to pick piston rings and place them on a micrometer for inspection. Like many parts at the Pennsylvania-based contract manufacturer, the rings were batch processed and arrived in big bins, all jumbled together. In order for the cobot to pick them, an operator had to lay them out in a grid pattern on a tray first.
“50-75% of our time spent getting that application up and running was figuring out how the robot would pick the parts,” says Alex Corckran, President and CEO of PrecisionForm. “Having an operator lay out parts for the cobot was still faster than doing the whole inspection process manually – but wouldn’t it be nice if the cobot could just pick directly from the bin and bypass this whole step?”