UR cobots double output within three months

Seng Heng Engineering

In short

Seng Heng Engineering, a third-generation manufacturer with 70 years of experience, is a single-source solution provider of fasteners, turnkey machining and corrosion resistant coating products. Due to rising manpower shortages, Seng Heng Engineering has installed two UR10e collaborative robots (cobots) from Universal Robots in the production line to automate the CNC and engraving processes. The manufacturer has witnessed a significant increase in productivity and efficiency after the deployment of UR cobots. Now, the cobots are working round the clock in tandem with human workers, relieving humans from tasks previously performed manually while increasing work efficiency.

The business transformation

The closure of borders around Southeast Asia due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused a bottle neck in the production line at Seng Heng Engineering. The company manufactures customised connectors such as high-quality bolts and nuts, that fasten critical onshore, offshore, and subsea safety oil and gas equipment. Each of the fasteners is engraved with information such as part number, material information and serial number for ease of reference and traceability. With a shortage of manpower, the highly intensive processes resulted in declining efficiency in the engraving processes. Further, Seng Heng is one of the few fastener companies in Southeast Asia to be certified by the American Petroleum Institute (API) to produce critical bolting for the oil and gas industry, which means that regional industries and supply chain count on them for reliable and quality connections in their equipment.

In addition, the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining processes were previously not optimised as the loading and unloading of fasteners into the CNC machine were conducted manually. These are repetitive processes that may take up to five minutes before the completion of each fastener. The rising challenges and the company's passion for a continuous improvement of their products, quality standards and services led Seng Heng Engineering to explore automation solutions.

Seng Heng Engineering

Industry Metal and Machining
Country Asia
Number of Employees 100-500
Cobots used UR10e
Video — UR10e robot, Seng Heng Engineering, Singapore

A safe and affordable solution

Although transiting to automation has always been on their mind, the COVID-19 pandemic was the catalyst. Initially, Seng Heng Engineering was planning to consider implementing conventional industrial robots, but found them too expensive and their need for safety caging not a viable solution.

Safety is one critical aspect for Seng Heng Engineering. The company is looking for automation solutions which can be integrated with existing machines, while work alongside human workers safely. Additionally, the employees have no background in programming. Hence, the easy programability of UR cobots, basic training provided by the UR Academy and the assistance from key certified system integrator, Aubotic, played a vital role in the decision to deploy UR cobots. Having a wide selection of readily available and certified cobot accessories in the UR+ ecosystem for rapid implementation further confirms management decision.

Initially, our employees were skeptical about deploying cobots in the production line, with the fear that cobots may take over their jobs eventually. Now, our employees have fully understood that cobots are relieving them from the monotonous tasks so that they can work on tasks that require their cognitive skills. In a short period of three months, we have seen significant achievements thanks to the successful deployment of cobots.

Jackie Lau, Managing Director, Seng Heng Engineering
Optimized operations and short lead times

Optimized operations and short lead times

The team of professionals at Aubotic delivers superior engineering support and created an ecosystem that allows for ease of deployment at Seng Heng Engineering. After implementing two UR10e cobots, with UR+ certified Onrobot electric grippers as end effectors to assist with the CNC and engraving machines, Seng Heng Engineering experienced a 50 percent increased productivity and efficiency in the production line within three months. In particular, the company accepts many orders with a short lead time of three to five days. Seng Heng used to have only one shift and added a second shift for CNC section due to COVID requirements of splitting staff into 2 teams. With cobots in place, Seng Heng continues to operate this second shift as the cobot helps to supplement the lean manpower during the night shift, and the company benefits from clearing the bottlenecks by keeping the machines running.

Embracing automation

Embracing automation

With an increase in production output and many other benefits for current users, colleagues in other departments are already evaluating how to deploy or redeploy cobots in other parts of the production process, as well as quality control and testing inspection processes, and packing processes in the warehouse. Seng Heng Engineering is embracing automation as a primary enabler of an intelligent workforce and effective throughput, and looking into deploying more cobots to further automate processes for improved productivity and efficiency. With UR cobots, operations are ensuring that orders can be completed within a short lead time and without any operational disruptions.

Automation challenges solved:

  • Relieves production bottle neck and ensures products reach customers on time
  • Precise placement of parts in cnc and engraving machines
  • Ability to automate without safety caging
  • Reduced downtime of machines
  • Efficiency of cnc machine tending increased
  • Employees relieved from repetitive tasks
  • Future labour shortages will be solved by introducing cobots

Key value drivers:

  • 50 percent increased productivity and efficiency in the production line within three months
  • Short training time as it is user-friendly even for staff who are unfamiliar with robotics
  • Short training time as it is user-friendly even for staff who are unfamiliar with robotics
  • Easy programmability

Tasks solved by collaborative robots

  • CNC machine loading and unloading process
  • Engraving

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