Universal’s Robot Arms Pick Packages

  • October 02, 2013
  • Case Study

October 2, 2013 - The collaborative robot arms from Universal Robots use advanced force control to handle even the most fragile and delicate items. The UR robots can operate with no safety guarding and are quickly programmed through an intuitive touchpad. From eggs to tobacco, the robots now optimize a wide variety of packaging and palletizing applications. At Cascina Italia in Italy, a Universal Robot works on a packing line handling 15,000 eggs per hour. The UR5 robot is equipped with a pneumatic gripper and fills boxes with egg trays containing 10 eggs each. A job demanding very precise handling. Cascina didn’t expect to be able to use a robot for the job, but after seeing a demo of the robot at their own factory, it was easy for the egg company to visualize the benefits. 90 days later, the UR5 was running on the line. Weighing only 11 lbs, the UR5 can easily be moved between packing lines, which is crucial for Cascina that handles four different egg sizes says CEO Ruggero Moretti: “We needed a flexible robot that could work within significant space restraints right next to our employees. The UR5 is a unique solution to that challenge.” If the robots come into contact with an employee, the robot will automatically stop operating. The force delivered in the collision does not cause bodily harm, adhering to the current safety requirements on force and torque limitations.  Of almost 2,000 Universal Robots sold worldwide, 80% of these operate with no safety guard. This is the case at Scandinavian Tobacco Company, the world’s largest factory for pipe tobacco production, where a UR5 robot now works directly alongside employees handling the lids for tobacco tins in a setup where tobacco is packed. “The robot spares our employees from having to make back-breaking repeated movements. The setup has freed 1 or 2 people that previously performed the tasks by hand. They now carry out other tasks at the factory, which means we don’t have to spend as much on temporary employees,” explains Henning Kristensen, a line manager at Scandinavian Tobacco Group. There was no room to screen off the robot in the setup at the factory. “We ended up choosing Universal Robots because their robots are the only ones approved for operation without safety guarding. This has simplified the setup and costs considerably,” says Henning Kristensen.   At Johnson & Johnson’s plant in Athens, Greece, a UR5 robot has significantly optimized the packaging process of shampoos and skincare products. The robot arm works round the clock, picking up three bottles simultaneously from the production line every 2.5 seconds, orientates them, and places them in the packing machine. Manual handling processes 45 bottles per minute, robotic assisted production is 70 units. “The bottles are vacuum lifted and transferred cleanly without any danger of scratching or sliding,” explained Ioannis Ypatidis, the Sales Manager at InnoPro Technologies that integrated the robot. “Also, as the label is not printed on the same side on all products and the bottles are various shapes and sizes, the robot can grasp from both the right and the left.” It’s easy to program the robot for new tasks. Ypatidis Ioannis explains that any member of Johnson and Johnson staff is able to do this: “By using the touch screen tablet or by simply grabbing the robot arm showing it the desired path of movement, any employee can quickly reprogram the robot,” he says.  This has saved Johnson & Johnson the cost of hiring external programmers. In Iceland, two UR5 robots work in conjunction at the country’s biggest dairy, Mjólkursamsalan Akureyri; the first robot arm lifts four 250 gram packs of cream cheese from a conveyor belt and places them in a plastic tray. The tray is then passed to the other UR5 robot that stacks the trays on a pallet. "UR robots are so simple to use, and not having to build a fence around them is a big plus. During the first year we saved three man-years of monotonous work, thanks to our two UR5s," says Sigurður Runar Friðjónsson, Director for the Akureyri dairy, subsidiary of Mjólkursamsalan Reykjavik. About the robots: The six-axis robot arms can easily be implemented in many industries; from a small CNC lathe production to large automobile assembly lines. The UR5 and UR10 are named after their respective payload in kilos (11 lbs for UR5 and 22 lbs for UR10). With a reach capacity of up to 51”, speed of 39”/s and repeatability of ± .004”, the six-axis robots enable quick, dexterous precision handling of even the smallest items. About the company: Universal Robots is an innovative and globally successful Danish manufacturer of lightweight industrial robots. Since the first UR robot entered the market in 2009, the company has seen substantial growth and is now in global distribution through more than 100 partners spanning over 40 countries.  Universal Robots is a ”first mover” within a new segment for user-friendly, collaborative robots enabling automation not just in large enterprises but also in small and medium size companies that thought employing a robot would be too costly and complex.

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