Everyone is working towards industry 4.0. Aluminium Donk does not want to be left behind. In addition, finding qualified technical staff is often a problem.
That is why Donk looked for methods to optimize its production process and, where possible, to automate / robotize it. With the help of proven methods such as Lean manufacturing, production steps can be identified that yield a great return on automation.
Cobot as the ideal solution
The current robots that run at Aluminium Donk are large, heavy and difficult to program. Expansion of this robot park was not desirable, if only because of the amount of space that these robots occupy.
For that reason, other options were considered, and a cobot proved to be the ideal solution. Because Aluminium Donk did not have any experience with cobots, a partner was sought to manage all aspects of a good implementation. Olmia Robotics fit the bill perfectly.
Communication between CNC machine and cobot
Our first cobot project involved a loading and unloading system for a CNC milling machine. This machine is an older type and not prepared for the use of a robot / cobot. Because this machine runs the same product for much of the year, this was the most suitable candidate to start our automation project. The repetitive work of loading the machine is now no longer carried out by an operator. This operator can now be used for, among other things, audit work and production optimization, which benefits an improvement in our overall quality.
Most of the work in the implementation phase involved getting a good communication link between the CNC machine and the cobot.
It involved close cooperation between Olmia Robotics and our machine supplier to get this done. Through this collaboration, the right signals were tapped to allow the machine and cobot to communicate with each other. The various possibilities of the Olmia Robotics cobot to communicate with other applications were a big advantage in this. We were not dependent on which signals the cobot needs, but were able to use the signals that the CNC machine can send and receive.
Cobot easy to program
Programming the cobot is simple and a one-day training was sufficient to program a cobot independently. In order to ensure that Aluminium Donk could start producing directly with the help of the cobot, Olmia Robotics delivered the cobot fully functional, including a working program.
Because we received a fully working system, we were able to concentrate on production optimization. Here too, we could always fall back on Olmia Robotics if we could not figure it out completely ourselves. The result is an optimally operating system that delivers consistent quality and quantity.
We are already enthusiastically thinking about our next cobot project! Of course we want to collaborate with Olmia Robotics again.
Assistant Production Manager Donk Industries
Cobot Machine loading
The cobot is very suitable for use in loading production machines and, of course, for unloading them. Consider loading and unloading a CNC machine, such as milling machines and lathes. But also the unloading of injection moulding machines or 3D printers.
Cobot works alongside and with people
Loading by an operator entails the risk of (lost time) injuries. The operator usually has to wait until the machine has completed its operation, and the intervening time is too short to take on other tasks. This cobot system can work independently, without the need for safety measures such as fencing. That makes it ideal for implementation without modifications on the production floor.
With the addition of an environmental scanner, the cobot can be programmed to work more slowly as soon as a person comes near and resume full speed when the person leaves the workspace.
Cobot can be used flexibly
The cobot can work in a variety of environments (with the exception of corrosive environments, in which the robot arm must be protected) and temperatures.
The cobot has intuitive software which makes it possible to program the cobot quickly and easily. This can be done for example by the operator who first loaded the machine. To have the robot arm perform a certain route or task, you can literally take it by the hand while you record the route.
Advantages of CNC loading with a cobot
The cobot is:
- Without risk of injury in the vicinity of heavy machinery
- Without risk of repetitive strain injuries