We have selected some case studies for you to review and explore how DiFACTO has helped other companies to reduce cost, increase productivity and improve quality.
Robotic Machine Tending with Vision System
When we talk about the best machine tool manufactures, Makino easily tops the list. With the brand new range of VMC (Vertical Machining Center) the “SLIM3” & HMC (Horizontal Machining Center) the “J3”, Makino’s Indian arm - Makino India Pvt Ltd approached DiFACTO to integrate a robot to demonstrate the automated loading and unloading capabilities of their machines at the renowned AutoExpo in 2008. The application was straightforward, but the challenging aspect was the integration of a Cognex vision system with the robot; as there was no locating pins for the component coming in from a gravity fed conveyor. The robot in order to pick the component needed accurate orientation, which was provided by the vision system. In addition, DiFACTO was given the responsibility of transforming this concept into reality which meant the entire design of the gripper, conveyor, pedestal, safety barriers etc. as well as robot and machine handshaking signals and the cell logic had to be completed.
The following challenges were faced during the project execution.
Absence of Jigs/Locating pins
The whole idea of doing away with jigs / locating pins was to demonstrate the capabilities of using a Cognex vision system with a robot. A camera would take the picture of the incoming component and send the orientation co-ordinates to the robot.
Robot Mounting constraints
As the cell was setup in an exhibition hall, the cell elements could not be anchored to the floor, as a result, maintaining a fixed relation in terms of distance between the robot & the cell elements was a challenge.
Robot Programming & Vision System Calibration
Programming the robot to accept the data sent by the vision system was quite challenging. Accurate calibration of the vision system was critical to obtain proper orientation co-ordinates for the robot.
The project execution started with the accurate modeling of the various cell elements including gripper, conveyor, pedestal etc. followed by creating a virtual cell in the simulation software. After a simulation study, an accurate Offline program was generated which was ready to be downloaded into a real controller.
DiFACTO’s Edge to the Customer
- With the aid of accurate modeling and use of powerful simulation softwares, the quality of the offline program achieved was commendable.
- The customer was able to see the working of the automated cell created in a virtual environment with the help of simulation softwares, giving a clear idea of the layout and thereby the space required for this display.
- Time spent on offline programming and simulation meant that very little time was used during actual exhibition site installation.
- Special engineering designs were implemented to keep the cell elements in place in relation with each other.
- The entire project co-ordination right from design to vendor follow-up as well as project execution was carried out by DiFACTO, giving the customer time to focus on other aspects of the project.
- DiFACTO was a one stop shop for all the automation needs for the customer.
Robotic Press Brake Tending
Increased throughput, reduced cycle time, better and consistent quality of the finished product; such are the requirements of any manufacturing industry, in order to stay ahead of the competition. One such manufacturer approached DiFACTO with an interesting idea of using a robot for tending a press brake. In addition, the complete design for gripper, centering table, flipping station, layout preparation, PLC logic, list of Inputs & outputs had to be provided to the customer.
The press brake application throws out a unique set of challenges for the robot integration.
Large Variation in Sheet Sizes
The customer requested DiFACTO to incorporate a large range of sheet sizes in a single cell. In addition a common gripper had to be designed to accommodate similar sized sheets, to reduce the number of grippers in order to reduce the investments.
Robot Selection Constraint
Selecting a suitable robot was not an option to DiFACTO as the customer had in large numbers a particular make of robot and insisted that we use the same robot for the application.
Relative Age of the Robot
The robots meant to be used in this application were from an older generation and lacked basic documentation such as setup, operating and maintenance manuals.
The project started off with a little more than an idea and some CAD details given by the customer. Based on the CAD details, 3D modeling of the press was done by DiFACTO along with the design and modeling of the various elements for the cell to function. This included design of the gripper, centering table, flipping / turnover stand etc. Soon after the design was completed, the cad models were imported into simulation software for simulation study, where an optimum bending sequence was achieved for different sheets. Apart from this DiFACTO also selected various sensors needed for the application along with supplier identification and RFQ activity. During the on-site installation, DiFACTO assisted the customer in PLC logic writing and IO listing.
DiFACTO’s Edge to Customer
- DiFACTO provided a single point contact for all automation related queries and services to the customer.
- DiFACTO is one among the competent few to have successfully completed the Press Brake application in India.
Robotic Chassis Handling
To survive in today’s competitive automobile market, one need to opt for automation; and when we think of automation, we think of robots. With the improving technology, today’s robots are capable of lifting heavier, working faster and reaching further than ever before. A leading car manufacturer in the country wanted to make use of such capabilities of a modern robot in their BIW line.
Being the industry experts in BIW automation, DiFACTO took up this project and faced the following challenges in the duration of the project:
With the advent of lean manufacturing, assembly lines are becoming compact, as a result, more and more robots end up working in a common work space. The challenge faced during the initial simulation stage, was to find a suitable place to put a new robot in an already cramped line and make it work in harmony with the rest of the cell.
Robot Working Area Constraint
The robot was meant to transport the chassis of a family van from one station to another; the part to be handled was huge in terms of size, and shifting such a huge component required large working space for the robot. Operating space being the major constraint, this application presented itself with numerous challenges for the simulation and programming team.
Robot Selection Constraint
In most cases a suitable robot for a particular application is decided during the simulation stage; but in this case, DiFACTO had to use the spare robot available with the customer. This called for meticulous study of the robot reach and the indepth analysis of the payload suitability to the application.
Time has always been an important factor in working with any organization. With limited time, proving the entire project was indeed a herculean task.
Keeping the above things in mind, the execution of the project began with a thorough study on robot placement, using sophisticated simulation tools; followed by a comprehensive simulation study. Once a suitable path was achieved, an OLP (Offline Program) was generated using the same tool used for simulation. DiFACTO also modified the gripper design to compensate for the payload constraints. The whole activity was then documented and sent for customer approval. With the customer’s approval, the programming team completed the on-site activity within the set time.
DiFACTO’s Value Adding Activities
- Use of high end virtual environment tools, meant that the customer could get a clear picture of the completed cell even before the concept was finalized.
- Sophisticated simulation tools enabled most of the robot related teaching activity to be completed offline, on a computer, which meant that there was no need for the customer to halt his production for such activities.
- Powerful post processors were used to generate accurate OLP (Offline Programs) for the robot, which aided the on-site programming team during installation. This also translated to fewer re-teaching of the robot program, to match the actual site conditions.
- The on-site team, with their vast experience in BIW application, knew what to expect for such a project and kept the customer well informed on required tools, equipment etc., as a result, the on-site activity was completed within the stipulated time.