Case Studies / Industrial Robots / Collaborative Robots

Man and technology in close contact

Emerson uses space-saving automation through collaborative FANUC robot

Dec 19, 2022 — As a leading manufacturer of press tools for building sanitary technology, Emerson Professional Tools AG must manufacture reliably and with process stability. For this reason - and due to tight space conditions - the Cobot CRX-10iA/L from FANUC has been used on a lathe since the beginning of 2021. It is compactly built and increases machine availability to up to 96 percent.

The new FANUC cobot at Emerson unloads finished parts at the Nakamura WTS-150 and removes residual pieces from the bar feeder - around the clock © FANUC

With around 80 employees, Emerson Professional Tools has been developing, manufacturing and assembling pressing tools and pressing jaws for pressing fittings with various diameters - from 12 mm to 108 mm (4 inches) - at its Swiss site in Sissach for over 35 years. These are primarily used for connecting sanitary, water and gas pipes in buildings.

The company's high-quality products are based on highly qualified employees and modern machines and systems. These include a 5-axis CNC lathe Nakamura WTS-150, whose existing portal automation solution failed at the beginning of October 2020 due to a defect. Plant Director Stefan Rüdisühli therefore had to quickly find a solution together with the machine operators.

He explains: "A repair would have been very time-consuming and expensive, so we preferred a new automation system." The challenges were manifold. The solution had to be reliable, easy to install, reasonably priced and available as quickly as possible. "In addition, we had to be economical in terms of space," adds Stefan Rüdisühli, who is responsible for the management and further development of the site and thus also for production.

Automation with CRX runs smoothly and reliably

In his search for a suitable supplier, Stefan Rüdisühli contacted the Swiss FANUC subsidiary, among others. The reason for this was, on the one hand, decades of good experience with FANUC controllers and, on the other hand, two FANUC robots that have been reliably in use since 2019 and 2020. Although Emerson is entering new territory with the Cobot CRX-10iA/L, "the solution has convinced us in every respect, and we can't imagine a better automation for this CNC lathe, even from today's perspective. It runs perfectly and reliably. We are also very satisfied with regard to all other challenges."

As a collaborative robot, the FANUC CRX-10iA/L does not need any elaborate safety devices, which ultimately has a positive effect on its footprint. The decisive factor here is that it fully complies with the safety standards according to ISO 10218-1. Another important feature for safe handling are its sensitive sensors, which trigger an immediate safety stop when a human body is touched. The anti-trap protection and the soft rubber skin with which the CRX is partially covered also ensure that the machine operators always feel safe and work without fear in close contact with their robot colleagues.

Machine availability per day increased to 96 percent

The tasks of the FANUC cobot are clearly defined at Emerson. It unloads finished parts from the Nakamura WTS-150 and removes remnants from the bar feeder. That is exactly what it does around the clock. Even an unmanned ghost shift is now possible with it. Thanks to the high process stability, Stefan Rüdisühli has been able to increase the daily availability of the lathe by to up to 96 percent. A value that delights the plant manager and his employees: "We are currently producing cylinder heads for our new generation of press tools on this machine. Our requirements are enormously high. Accordingly, the high availability of the entire system is currently helping us a lot."

The installation of the CRX-10iA/L as well as the initial programming for the tasks to be performed were carried out by experienced technicians from Wick AG - supported by Emerson machine operators. The system house from Küssnacht in Switzerland has been developing automation solutions for small and medium-sized companies for around 20 years. Robotics in general and the cooperation with FANUC Switzerland GmbH in particular play an important role for Wick. Guido Lüönd, CTO of Wick AG and member of the management board, emphasises: "We have already been able to gain some experience in dealing with collaborative robots in recent years. Not least because of this, the commissioning of the FANUC Cobot CRX-10iA/L at Emerson worked smoothly throughout.“

The FANUC CRX-10iA/L allows Manual Guided Teaching: it can be easily guided by hand to the desired positions, which can be saved on the tablet using the drag & drop function © FANUC

Lüönd is particularly enthusiastic about the ease of installation of the new CRX series: "Thanks to its lightweight, compact design, the FANUC CRX-10iA/L can be easily integrated into any work area or existing systems. We don't need a crane or any other lifting device for this." This is matched by the new, particularly compact R-30iB Mini Plus control system. The automation expert is also impressed by the convenient programming options: "The FANUC CRX-10iA/L allows Manual Guided Teaching. This means that the robot can be easily guided by hand to the desired positions, which can be saved on the tablet using the drag & drop function. This way, a new application is programmed in just a few minutes.“

Emerson is already planning further automation in which robots from FANUC are to play a leading role, because of the great progress that’s been made already.

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