The family company Attl a spol. s.r.o. Továrna na stroje (Machinery Factory) has expanded its product range into automotive segment.
Challenges and Needs: For one of the Volkswagen suppliers, the company started to produce stainless steel tubes used in heat exchangers in EGR valves of modern combustion engines for both passenger and commercial vehicles, whose main task is to reduce exhaust emissions.
A new production line was supposed, in accordance with the company’s original plan, to directly produce the final product, however, a test run proved that one more operation is necessary - rounding the edges of the manufactured tubes. In the first phase, the manipulation with the semi-finished product, i.e. inserting the tubes into an edge rounding machine, was carried out manually by human operators, at the same time, however, the company began to intensively seek an automated solution for this monotonous operation.
The initially designed mechanical solution proved to be highly unreliable, therefore a decision was made to purchase a robot. Having no previous experience with industrial robots, the company was offered the opportunity to try an UR5 robot, provided by the Liberec company EXACTEC, the Universal Robots distributor.
“Although our company manufactures and supplies its customers with tools to automate manufacturing, we have not had the opportunity to work with industrial robots before,” says Tomas Attl, sales director at Attl a spol. s.r.o. Továrna na stroje. “Then we had the robot arm from Universal Robots borrowed for a few months, but even after a couple of days it was absolutely clear that the use of light industrial robots is exactly the right direction to follow to modernize our operation in the future.”
Robot Tasks: The task of the three UR5 robot arms, deployed on manufacturing lines of stainless steel for the exhaust gas coolers in EGR valves, is to insert the semi-finished tubes into an edge rounding machine. One operation cycle takes the robot approximately 2 seconds, i.e. 30 tubes are manufactured every minute. All three robots work on average 20 hours a day, 6 days a week.
The reliability level of UR5 robots is very high. During almost two years of operation there was only one single defect in one of the robot arms. The contractor replaced the damaged joint under warranty and in less than 24 hours after the defect was reported. During regular service operations, the robot task is taken over by human operators. The company neither plans nor carries out any extraordinary shutdowns of its robots and it does not keep any spare parts in stock. In this, the company simply proceeds according to the manufacturer’s standard service instructions.
The initial setup of robot arms was performed by EXACTEC programmers; any potential future configuration of robots can be carried out by a trained company technician.
Selected Robots and Parts: 3 × UR5
Implementation and Training: EXACTEC provided Attl a spol. s.r.o. Továrna na stroje with one UR5 robot for several months of testing. Subsequently, EXACTEC has deployed three UR5 robot arms, tested the operation and trained one of the company engineers in operation and configuration of the robot. The gradual training of all employees working with the robot then took place over three days. In total, the implementation of the UR robot arms in the company’s production lines took 4 weeks.
Initially, EXACTEC arranged a demo operation for Attl a spol. s.r.o. Továrna na stroje, during which the cooperation between the robot and the production line was fine-tuned and during which a special gripper for handling the product was prepared. The subsequent implementation of the UR robots was carried out without any problems.
After the implementation, several consultations with EXACTEC specialists took place, however the operation and maintenance of robots had already been taken care of by trained company employees.
“We were pleasantly surprised by how quick and easy was the implementation of UR robots in our production. The robots work within the declared precision tolerance and, except for one minor defect, the operation have been smooth. And our customer is satisfied with the robotic solution as well. In the automotive segment operations, industrial robots are nowadays a standard, expected also from subcontractors,“ says Tomas Attl.
Results & Advantages:
• Three light UR5 robots have replaced human operators in carrying out monotonous manual labour at Attl a spol. s.r.o. Továrna na stroje.
• The robots on the production lines work 20 hours a day, 6 days a week, without any required downtime or service outages.
• Any programming tasks and the regular maintenance of the robots is taken care of by the trained engineer and other company employees.
• The UR Robots have proven to the company its usefulness, efficiency and rapid return on the their acquisition investment. The company owners are now considering deployment of UR robot arms in another 5 workplaces.