Collaborative robots used for tightening products in plastic factories

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01Background

There are a large number of foot pad orders for the plastic molding factory in Taipei. One of the processes is to tighten the screws for the support leg under the footrest stool. The factory has always done this process manually. Workers take out the screws from the tray and screw them to the threaded metal rod. However, due to the manual nature of the operation, the tempo is very slow. The operating department often complained that they were not able to complete much during a day. Due to the declining birthrate, Taiwan’s problem recruitment and labor shortages also plagued the factory, especially when there were seasonal orders. The factory needed to spend extra time and energy to hire temporary workers to help.

02Pain points

Therefore, the production department and the engineering department have simultaneously thought whether it was possible to use robots to complete such mechanized and repetitive operations in order to increase productivity. So, after comparing different types of robots on the market, they considered using a 6-joint robotic arm for automation. The next question comes. The production department believed that the traditional small six-axis robot already had mature applications so it was only natural to choose this type of product. Compared with a more expensive collaborative robot, it does the same job after all.

The engineering department, however, was more thoughtful. At present, the factory lacks professional integration personnel to introduce robotic arms. In addition, seasonal orders and customized products have also tested the flexibility of the application. Therefore, they believed that a flexible, easy-to-use collaborative robotic arm is a better choice in the long run. Finally, under the recommendation of the integrator, the factory decided to try to introduce a collaborative robot first. After all, many 3C electronics factories in Taiwan have begun to use this lightweight production tool on a large scale.

03solution

In this project, the collaborative robot mainly completes the following actions: picking up the screw nut from the machine tool, accurately finding the support feet that need to be screwed on the tray, then completing the nut tightening action, and repeating the same procedure for the next part. With the use of collaborative robots, the working cycle has been significantly accelerated, the factory is working 24 hours a day, and the output has doubled. It is also pleasing that the programming of the robot is very simple, and the setting and planning of the robot can be easily completed by visual instructions and free drive teaching. Whether it is initial application verification or subsequent redeployment based on process changes, it is all very convenient. “The engineering department’s decision to choose the cooperative robots was right!” Even the operation team is very satisfied with this attempt.

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