Back in 2014 we announced that we’d turned the dream of robotic fettling into a reality with the arrival of our robotic multitasking machine. At that stage the robot was about to be programmed – something which is a very time-consuming process!
We thought we’d give you an update and are delighted to announce that the robot is now up and running and is proving to be an indispensable member of the team!
Everyone who has been or is still involved with our robot is convinced that it is unique and that they’ve never seen a robotic cell like it. We believe it is so different because, unlike the robots which are widely used in the automotive industry, it is a multi-tasking machine. Our robot picks up the casting from a turntable, carries it to the circular saw and then moves to the rough debur tool, then on to the linisher, followed by the fine debur and, if necessary, to the drill. The robot then drops the casting down a chute and repeats the whole process with a new casting.
Getting the robot up and running has been so time consuming because we have many different castings in production and each has to have different ‘gripper fingers’ and pads for the turntable. Changing from one component to another takes ten minutes and at present the robot has been programmed to use around 40 components with 18 ready to be programmed. However, we’re now in a situation where the robot has become too busy for us to re-programme it which means that we’ve purchased a second robot!
Although the process of getting our first robot up and running has been a lengthy one, it has proved to be incredibly beneficial for a number of reasons. First and foremost are the improvements we have been able to make in terms of health and safety. We selected the castings which we know are the most dangerous to fettle by hand and programmed the robot to handle these first. This meant that we could remove these castings from the band saw altogether which has removed the risk entirely. In addition, the robot has greatly reduced hand/arm vibration and repetitive strain injuries, the man operating the robot is mobile and doesn’t have to spend hours sitting in one position, plus noise levels and workloads have been reduced by 80%.
Productivity has doubled and we’ve been able to reduce the lead time from cast to sale from one week to just 24 hours. A good example is one particular casting we make which would have once taken 1 minute thirty seconds to fettle, now takes just 42 seconds! We’ve also improved the finished quality of our products through a uniform finish with no rough edges.
A great improvement all round as we’re sure you’ll agree! We believe that we’ve created the very first affordable ‘jobbing’ robotic cell in the world and if you’d like to find out more, why not take a look at our YouTube channel which can be found at: www.youtube.com/user/HallandBotterill