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Friday, October 5, 2007

Robotic Automation and benifits

Robotic Automation has helped an Australian tissue manufacturer to automate its 'end-of-line processes' and at the same time save space, costs and labour. Not only did it help improve on its product quality and reliability but also resulted in increased production.
Prior to automation, the manufacturer faced a major problem. At the end of the production line, there were bundled multipacks that were mounting up at the speed of forty per minute. The rapidness of the production demanded more than two staff in order to pick and pattern-stack these bundles onto their respective pallets. These bundles would rise up to a height of 2.9 metres.

Having a project with three such lines, the company needed more than six staff per shift. This was when it decided to automate its palletising operation. This kind of repetitive, intense and constant labour would result in strain injuries, increase in costs, extra break-times as well as losses due to the time mislaid towards production and staff management. Further, automating would require six robots in total as there need to be two robots in every line. The necessity of a larger investment as well as the limitation of available floor-space started to become an apprehension.

The solution to this problem came in the form of MOTOMAN EPL160 robots that have 4-axis Servo Twin-gripper effectors.

Robotic Automation's engineering team visualised the possibility of an articulated twin-gripper that would pick, orientate independently as well as nest 2 loads as soon as the robot transferred them from the line to the pallet. This exercise would efficiently double the capability of each robot and reduces it to half the floor-space and robots needed. Designs were made, prototyped and computer modeled. Several mechanism and gear-box designs were explored and a compatible design that offered the crucial weight-to-torque output was incorporated to meet the project requirements.

The 160kg mid-range MOTOMAN robot's capacity of payload was adequate to cover the weight as well as the inertia of the twin-gripper and the bundled loads of product. It also offered the best reach to transfer onto a pallet stack of 2.9 metres height.

The final testing and installation revealed that the system was able to orientate, pick, transfer as well as place a multipack bundle every 1.5 seconds. Further robots are now in the process of being commissioned in the company's expanding operations.

The benefits of this system are:

improved productivity
improvement in staff safety
elimination of costs in injury claims and lost production time
improved product quality and elimination of product damage costs
reduced labour costs (x6) and associated management/administration costs

Robotic Automation provides welding solution for Australian Railway Bogie Manufacturer,

A successful Australian Railway Bogie Manufacturer that produces large railway bogies carrying bulk raw materials between cities across the country recently faced difficult and intensive welding challenges amidst the current Skilled Labour Shortage.


This Australian Railway Bogie Manufacturer produces large railway bogies that carry bulk raw materials between cities throughout Australia.

The undercarriages of these railway bogies are constructed from large mild steel structures MIG-welded together by skilled tradesman.

This repetitive and intensive task consists of long weld seams that must be traced consistently and accurately across sections - some up to four metres long - to achieve secure, strong and reliable welds.

The arduous nature of this task requires prolonged concentration and physical strain, leaving the skilled tradesmen heavily worn out and requiring large break-times throughout the process in order to maintain work standards, and minimise risk to health and safety - inherent with the use of live welding equipment.

Many parts can require several hours of welding each to complete. Strain injuries are unfortunately quite common as a result of the prolonged concentration and physical exertion required.

The Bogie Manufacturer took on three skilled welding staff to handle the task, however given the difficult nature of the work and the continuing skills shortage, staff turnover was high and it soon became increasingly difficult to keep the positions filled.

With the developing re-staffing issue this created, a bottle-kneck began which had a follow-on effect that threatened production and impacted the entire manufacturing cycle as a result.


MOTOMAN HP20-6 (extended reach version of HP-20 robot)
MOTOMAN COMARC arc-tracking and touch sensing options
OTC DP500 Digital inverter pulse welder
MOTOMAN MT1 1000 servo-powered 2-axis Positioner
Robotic Automation servo-powered Traverse Track with 4 metres travel
Robotic Automation Safety Guarding System
Robotic Automation Torch Cleaning Station with pneumatic spatter-cleaner and wire-cutter
After consulting closely with the Railway Bogie Manufacturer, and understanding the manpower problem they were facing, Robotic Automation's engineering team developed an integrated robotic welding solution with a fully synchronised 2-axis work-piece positioner and a 4-metre robot traverse-track.

Together, these machines provide three external axes of movement orientating the part to the robot's proximity with the part as it performs each weld.

In addition, the 6-axis body of the robot enables it to position the torch at optimum angle constantly.

The MOTOMAN NX-100 controller synchronises the entire process, this machine itself capable of controlling 27 more axes of movement - or a further three synchronised robots - if required.

Possibly the most important part of this robotic soltuion provided by Robotic Automation is the fact that the MOTOMAN HP20-6 extended reach robot, MOTOMAN MT1 1000 positioning system, and the MOTOMAN NX-100 controller's memory are flexible enough to handle a varying series of undercarriage parts welds performing detailed, difficult and labour intensive work without the need for a break or the intrinsic health and safety risks encountered by their human counterparts.

Advanced robotic functions specific to this production task enable the Robotic Automation solution to respond to the various welding challenges presented by the shape and surface variance of each individual work-part.

Touch sensing enables the MOTOMAN HP20-6 extended reach robot to confirm weld seam position before commencing, thereby ensuring weld quality throughout each weld from start to finish.

MOTOMAN COMARC arc-tracking allows the MOTOMAN HP20-6 extended reach robot to detect and respond in real time during the weld to any defects or variances, however slight, in the surface profile of each work-part.

The OTC DP500 digital welder uses Synchro Short-Pulse - a shorter, rigid arc to allow the MOTOMAN HP20-6 extended reach robot to weld at higher speed, with a more consistent droplet transfer, minimal spatter and better bead profile.

The Robotic Automation Torch Cleaning Station with pneumatic spatter-cleaner and wire-cutter enables the MOTOMAN HP20-6 extended reach robot to regularly spray-clean its torch head and gas nozzles to keep them free of any spatter and ensure they are flowing freely.

The station also trims the welding wire precisely to ensure the perfection of the next weld-start.


Longer welds
Continuous welds
Consistent welds
Improved weld appearance
Higher weld quality with greater strength
Improved staff health and safety
Improved productivity
Reduced costs and lost time due to weld error
Elimination of costs associated with OH & S
Elimination of cost and lost production time associated with staff breaks
Reduced labour costs and associated management/admin costs

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