Robotics: The Next Evolution in Flexible Manufacturing
An increasing number of manufacturers are under pressure to produce outstanding products and reduce their costs in a competitive market.
The pace of robotic implementation across industries is accelerating. Sensor-equipped robots are a great addition to almost any manufacturing environment. Facteon’s design engineers have collaborated with our in-house robotics specialists to develop a tox and clinch measuring robot. This new technology will perform quality control functions. It can be incorporated into any production facility that completes forming or joining metalwork, such as in the automotive and appliance industries. Manufacturers will be aware of the challenges that result from employing human operators to perform QC functions.
Prior to the development of this technology, such an operation would have been performed manually by a human operator measuring tox points on a single product. Then, this data would be entered into a computerized system for tracking.
Compared to a clinch QC robot, a person cannot possibly measure these points as accurately and as quickly. There are also concerns around the accuracy of data recorded by human operators. The margin for error is increased further when data is transferred from handwritten notes into a digital system. In some cases, this task may not be completed by the operator who originally transcribed the measurement.
Perhaps most importantly, is it a good use of QC staff time to be taking manual measurements? Is it better for QC staff to focus on utilising data recorded by a clinch QC robot to make decisions on how to improve efficiencies on the production line?
The purpose of this technology is to upgrade a customer’s existing line. With a flexible nature and small machine footprint, a robotic cell can serve as a simple upgrade to your existing production line. Often, manufacturers are hesitant to embrace Industry 4.0 technologies due to the misconception that you must refit your facility with the latest and greatest in automated equipment. The integration of a single robotic cell, such as a clinch QC robot, has the potential to relieve your QC team of mundane tasks and significantly improve your operations, all while having a limited impact on your wider factory operations.
The Facteon team is able to vary the speed of QC processes completed by a clinch QC robot by adjusting the number of data points per measure. In addition, the robot can be programmed to request a set amount of product from the line. This allows your QC team and plant manager to work together to establish the optimal balance between product quality and cycle time.
A pillar of Industry 4.0 is the use of connected machines and cyber-physical networks. Rather than a delay between data collection and input into a computerized system, we’re now able to access and interpret that data immediately. Aside from the convenience and improvement in accuracy, manufacturers can use this data to make decisions based on their facility’s operations. Another option is to allow machines to make decisions autonomously.
For example, if a toxing tool begins to fail on a line, the machine can stop production or send an alert to an operator that the tool will need replacement shortly. Without such a system in place, the measuring tool would continue to operate until, and perhaps beyond, its failure. Then, the manufacturer would attempt to rectify the situation later. This approach can lead to products being scrapped when they shouldn’t have been produced due to the state of the tool. Repeated wastage of raw materials is clearly an expensive and unnecessary exercise for manufacturers.
Facteon’s clinch QC robot solves this problem by sending data to an instrumentation and control system at the time of capture. Then, human operators can schedule preventative maintenance to resolve the impending issue. This reduces both scrap rates and costly downtime.
Facteon has the ability to develop and deploy innovative automation and robotics solutions. These solutions are all informed by our hands-on experience and knowledge of smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0. Our COSMOline software product allows you to deploy a robotic QC solution and generate immediate return based on the insights and intelligence it delivers.
The ability to pass data immediately between machines and your MES and ERP systems streamlines processes within your facility. The autonomous operation of machines allows your factory to inform you of a costly breakdown that may halt production.
At Facteon, we are experts when it comes to combining flexible automation solutions with the latest Industrial IoT and digital technologies. If you’re looking to expand your production facility, it’s the perfect opportunity to consider how you’re managing data and information across your manufacturing operations. With our various, cross-functional capabilities we can take you from concept and ideation right through to implementation. Of course, we also provide on-going support so we’re never far if you need us.