UR5 Allows Employees at Schneider Electric to Focus on Creative Tasks Through Automating Repetitive Processes
01 The Short story
Schneider Electric is a global company providing energy and automation digital solutions for efficiency and sustainability. It addresses homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure and industries, by combining energy technologies, real-time automation, software and services. The Schneider Electric Bulgaria plant is mainly focused on MCB (Mini Circuit Breakers) production for industrial and home applications. The company deployed UR5 cobots to automate the process of picking and placing power breakers and boxes, which shortened production time and moved employees to different manufacturing areas, helping the operators to deal with the most repetitive tasks. The UR5’s return on investment is estimated at around 24 months.
02 The Challenge
Schneider Electric’s plan in Bulgaria is located in the town of Plovdiv, employing 500+ people - operators, administration and support functions. A challenge to further development of the enterprise is the need of a more effective production and the automation of everyday repetitive tasks.
“The cobots are used to replace non-ergonomic, repetitive and boring daily tasks. This allows operators to be more focused on product quality and machine performance”, says Antoniy Petrov, automation engineer at Schneider Electric. Apart from the need for the automation of strenuous and monotonous processes, Schneider Electric is an innovative company, constantly looking for modern, yet reliable solutions. “As our plant is recognized as a Smart factory and Showcase plant for 14 countries in South-Eastern Europe and following our Smart factory program, we decided to put innovative and reliable solutions,” said Petrov.
Video — Schneider Electric, Bulgaria
03 The Solution
The UR5 cobots are now programmed to pick power breakers from the manufacturing line and place them in boxes. After this task is completed, the UR5 picks and places a new empty box to be filled again until the cart is full with 10 boxes. When the batch is finished, the robot directly alerts the operator for the changeover.
“The UR collaborative robots are connected to the automation system of the production line and follow processes like emergency stops, The cobot can reject full conveyors in order to provide a working area for the operator to remove the unfit for use units., , It can also alert the operator when changeover is needed , and handle manual requests from the operator to stop operation and go in a safe position.”, Mr. Petrov explains.
The robot works fully autonomously, the operator is needed just for the changeover.
The operators are safe while working alongside cobots.
The cobot puts an empty tray in order to be filled in.
Schneider Electric Bulgaria identified Universal Robots as an effective solution which allows operators to be more focused on product quality and machine performance.
The loading process which is performed entirely by the UR5 is also very simple and well automated. As input, Schneider has a cart with full trays, with up to 10 trays in a batch. The cobot is able to detect the top tray through an additional detector and after that can arrange the position of MCBs inside the tray. The ROBOTIQ dual gripper is designed to pick up to 16 MCBs at once and place them at the on-input conveyor at the production line. When all MCBs are taken from the tray, the robot automatically moves it to the output trolley with empty trays. As a final step, when the cobot has finished unloading the entire cart, an operator is called to remove the cart and put a new cart in place. This way, the operator is only needed when the input is finished and can focus on more creative tasks.
“The described process from the very beginning was designed for an UR cobot. Apart from this, the operators see the UR5 as a very useful application and they really like to work with it.”, said Schneider Electric’s automation engineer.
Now, because of the cobots’ various applications, the company has implemented two UR5 cobots in its production. “The UR was identified as this solutions thanks to its competitive price, easy installation, task change due to needs, reliable support and the easy programming and use,”, Mr. Petrov said. “Implementation of robotization in manufacturing processes must be with a vision to replace non-ergonomic, repeating and boring operations. This will allow the company to have more time to develop a skilled operator and to make their processes more robust with better performance.”
The UR5 cobots were supplied to Schneider through the local Universal Robots distributor Soltec. “UR is an innovative technology with a very simple and easy to use system. The customers use the cobots generally because they are very good leverage to optimize their manufacturing process,” said Jean Philippon, Project leader at Soltec. “On top of that, Soltec’s mission is to support the customers and their industry and to help them be more competitive and efficient.”
- Relieved current employees of monotonous and repetitive tasks
- Automated the process of picking and placing power breakers and boxes
- Provided safe and easy application access for employees
- Minimalization of routine tasks
- Shortening of the production time
- Return of investment in about 2 years
- Fast set-up of the solution
- Flexibility of the solution
- Material handling
- Alerting the operator when changeover is needed
- Rejecting full conveyors
- Handling manual requests from the operator to stop operation and go in a safe position
- Unloading the empty trays
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Cost-effective, safe and flexible collaborative robots - or cobots- are making automation easier than ever, even for the small and mid-sized companies.