“We can interlock multiple robots together and read through Modbus the TCP connections and robot status. We can also pass information along to other software packages, and collect data. It opens up a lot of doors to do a lot of things we’re just now beginning to look at,” says Principal Engineer at SFEG, Jamie Cook, who found the implementation time to be a third to half of the time compared to previous robot experiences.
One of the new applications now using the UR robots for data collection is in the live testing of new designs, where a small motor manufactured at SFEG is placed in the customer product.
The robot turns the product’s switch on and off, runs it for a minute on, 30 seconds off, for the next 400 hours. The robot collects data pertinent to the test such as max amperage, average amperage, and the number of cycles completed, transmitting that data to a data storage.
“It’s a quick way for us to perform life cycle testing. We didn’t have to set up a lot of equipment; the initial program took us only about 5 minutes to create,” says Matt Bush.
“It’s enabled us to actually engage our customer in the testing as well, they’re excited to see us use new technology to push our design faster into production. It gives us an advantage over our competitors thousands of miles away in low-cost source countries. We’re now winning orders against Chinese competitors and bringing back work that used to be sourced in China as well.”
Another task now handled by the mobile UR robot fleet is filling epoxy into circuit boards.
“In the past, employees would make up a big batch of circuit boards and they would stand there and manually fill them with two-part epoxy and send them down the curing line. Today, the robot does that all day long enabling us to go to a one-piece flow,” says Bush.
“We’re looking at everything we’re designing now new to make sure we can assemble it with a robot. If we can’t put that together with a robot, we’ve got to go back to the drawing board and try again.”