Increase in small-batch production productivity using robots
The case of Company N - bridge metal structures manufacturer that uses ABAGY robotic service to reduce costs
Jul 20, 2020 — Production as a service enables to start with robotics without capital investment in equipment and the need to develop competencies in robotics.
It offers transparent costs of production and On-the-fly robots control with ABAGY software. The customer will only pay for the actual work done (meters of weld seam, or area of painted surface).
Technology used for that case
ABAGY technology for adaptive robot manufacturing: effective for low volume-high mix manufacturers The basis of ABAGY technology is a cloud software that automatically process 3D CAD models and production operation parameters into real-time and adoptive execution of production process by robot. ABAGY software is installed on robotic cell and operates all the equipment from one center. Thanks to machine vision (3D and 2D laser scanners) that is required for proper solution performance, software gets feedback from the working area and updates master control programs in accordance with the received information. Robots become adaptive to changes in work process.
Detailed description of the solution
Industrial robot – 2 pcs.
welding equipment – 2 pcs.
linear axis – 2 pcs.
Machine vision (3D and 2D laser scanners)
Maximum dimensions of welded structures: 18,000 mm x 3,000 mm x 1,000 mm (LxWxH).
Main products: metal structures such as beams, piers, tie elements, and trusses
Assembly is manual, and parts are tack welded; robots do the final welding
Welding used: arc welding, by melting a metal electrode (a wire) in an inert or active shielding gas environment with automated wire feed
The system is controlled using ABAGY software. The user interface can be viewed on a monitor installed directly in the cell (as part of the system), as well from any workplace within the company’s network. To start welding a new product, its 3D model should be loaded
There is no need to position products in the work area at the specified zero points. Products can be placed arbitrarily, also with a crane.
Find a solution that can weld 8,000+ different products
Make robots weld manually-preassembled products
Avoid the staff growth including hiring of highly paid professionals in automation field
Reduce costs. No capital investments possible.
To weld 8,000+ different products
Robots on ABAGY platform can adapt to variations in or between production runs. With that technology it is unnecessary to constantly re-program and re-calibrate robotic cell for each new or non-standard activity or motion robots need to make. Software automatically converts 3D CAD drawings and technological instructions into instructions for robots, without any need of programming by human engineers. ABAGY-enabled robots are truly flexible and adaptable, capable to change the process in response to changing environment. Work parameters are controlled and set by the end user staff via simple and convenient user interface.
Abagy technology could be named an on-the-fly programming. In order to guarantee user real-time command execution on the equipment of the robotic cell (determining the geometric orientation of the work item for processing in the working area, the regeneration of the geometry of objects, and the comparison of the real geometry of the work item with a 3D model, generating and re-generating of the control programs) software at the same time have to process huge data sets. Only the cloud computing makes it possible. Eventually the arc time now is 70%, the target is to reduce the time for supporting operations (like program generating, scanning and so on) and bring arc time to 85-90%.
Welding of manually-preassembled products
The technology is designed to adapt robots to work with anomalous feedstock, the positioning in the work zone can also be random. It is possible with the help of machine vision. The software processes data from vision sensors in order to deliver the task of determining the geometric orientation of the work item for processing in the robotic cell working area, the regeneration of the geometry of objects, and the comparison of the real geometry of the work item with a 3D model. After that it generates the control program not for the ideal product from the 3D model but the live product placed in the working area.
The main goal of that function is to increase the versatility and adaptability of robotic systems, giving them the opportunity to work with non-ideal work items that differ from their CAD models, it is important especially for finish welding operations when products were assembled manually that means that each product is unique in terms of robotics.
Avoid staff growth
Using of Abagy technology does not require additional specialists and experts. Only existing manufacturer`s staff members are involved in the production process with Abagy technology:
Construction engineer who makes the 3D model of the product to be welded and uploads it to Abagy software. He also specifies the technology requirements if necessary.
Production head who manages the equipment loading based on production plan
Operator of the robotic cell who receives tasks for production, provide the robotic cell with the production blanks for welding and make the simple maintenance of the cell (changes consumables, uploads wire and so on).
No specialists are needed to control and maintain the equipment or program it required. All maintenance is the responsibility of Abagy as a service provider. There’s also no programming required as the software generates all the programs automatically.
To save costs of production at current level. No capital investments
Company N uses Abagy solution on a pay-per-use basis. It means that Company doesn`t own/buy the equipment but only pay for the actual work made with robots (meters of welds done). Cost savings are possible because the weld meter made with robots is 30% cheaper than with manual work. In that case Company N uses robots for finish welding and can reallocate part of its workers between other tasks.
4 months of operation of the cell, that included 2 months tests, showed:
70% arc time in the production cycle (only 30% of time goes to additional operations like loading 3D models, scanning, generating the programs and so on)
The ability of the cell to weld without breaks for hours
Possibility to set all necessary technological settings used by the Company
Near zero reject rate
About the Company
The manufacturer is the leading producer of metal bridges in Russia. The company has been around since 1948.
The robotization project was implemented in August 2019.