Installing a Universal Robot to pick metal parts from a press brake solved several automation headaches at Canada-based Etalex, a manufacturer of shelving systems that had no room for safety guarding in front of the press and needed a flexible user-friendly robot able to safely handle the pick and place tasks in a high-traffic area. The UR10 robot was up to the challenge.
When entering the 300,000 sq ft production hall at Etalex, the Universal Robot UR10 can be seen loading metal parts of various shapes and sizes to a large press brake. Compared with the other 25 robots in operation, all placed behind sturdy safety fencing, the Universal Robot application is an unusual sight. The UR robot belongs to a new breed of robots dubbed collaborative robots (‘cobots’) as their built-in force control limits the force at contact and does not cause bodily harm, enabling them to work alongside employees. Unlike more traditional industrial robots that normally stay bolted in one spot, the lightweight UR robots can also be quickly moved and reprogrammed for various production tasks.
“We needed a flexible automation solution that could be used for 10 different production cycles,” explains plant engineer Jean-Francois Rousseau. “Since I only have 6 ft of space in front of the press brake, it was important that I could run this application without safety caging around it.” Before the arrival of Etalex’s new robot colleague, an employee would manually tend to the press brake 8 hours a day. The manual tasks have now been reduced to an hour per day spent on inspecting the quality of each pallet and changing the coils, resulting in an estimated ROI of about 12 months.
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