AUTOMATING WITH AN ASSEMBLY ROBOT

Manufacturing processes, from internal logistics to assembly, testing and end-of-line operations, are being increasingly automated in response to changing manufacturing requirements.

Assembly processes are one of the most popular forms of automating, going back to their introduction by Henry Ford in 1913. Since then they have become commonplace in industries and manufacturers of all sizes, being used to effectively streamline production. Depending on the product being produced, assembly lines can vary from very simple, to complex where there is very little human interaction with the product and the manufacturing process is instead completely automated.

More traditional automation systems are ‘hard’ mechanical machinery which are inflexible and thus difficult to adapt to new products. Newer automation methods, such as robots have bridged this gap, enabling the reprogramming and repurposing of equipment for a variety of tasks.

Robotic Assembly Automation

Screw and Bolt Tightening, Riveting, Electronic Assembly & Adhesive Dispensing.

Robot assembly can be deployed in a huge number of applications, Reeco are experts in Collaborative robot automation, offering Cobot automation solutions in Screw Tightening, Bolt Tightening, Riveting, Electronic Assembly, and Adhesive / Dispensing.

Screw Tightening

Screw Tightening Assembly Line

Screw Tightening is made easier with Cobots. Offering more flexibility on your production line, Screw Tightening applications provide enhanced repeatability through measurable torque and force control.

Screw Tightening

Bolt Tightening

Omron TM Bolt Tightening

Strict requirements in areas such as automotive may require consistent and accurate torque levels for product approval. Automating Bolt Tightening can be made possible through the implementation of Cobots.

Bolt Tightening

Riveting

BMW KUKA Riveting Robot

Relieve workers of repetitive strain injury. Using handheld tools may result in inconsistencies over time and slowed cycle times. Fully collaborative stations can allow operators and Cobots to work on the task together.

Robot Riveting

Electronic Assembly

Dual Cobot Electronic Assembly

With force sensing technology, Cobots are capable of handling delicate tasks which require accuracy and dexterity. Electronic assembly automation also promotes increased cycle times and product consistency.

Electronic Assembly

Adhesive Dispensing

Adhesive dispensing

Reduce the use of excess material, only dispensing exactly what your processes require. While enhancing process efficiency and repeatability, Cobots can help in standardising dispensing processes.

Adhesive Dispensing
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What are Assembly Robots?

A manual line is comprised of a series of processes and workstations that each perform operations in a predefined sequence, outputting a finished product. Robotics have been used to enhance assembly lines, with manufacturers reaping benefits in consistency, speed and quality control. Following programmed commands, assembly robots are robot arms that carry out assigned tasks within a production scenario.

As robot technology has developed, we have moved from simple two axes robots, to 6 axes which are commonplace today. Dubbed ‘multipurpose manipulators’ by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), 6 axes robots are capable of articulating anywhere within its furthest point of reach. Robots excel at handling and manipulating materials, operating much like a human arm, they can complete complex series’ of movements on their own, unlike more traditional mechanical methods of automation.

Bentley Screw Tightening Cobot

Applications of Robotic Assembly

Exceling at manipulating materials, robots are perfect for a number of assembly tasks. Their 6 axes movements enable them to manipulate products anywhere within their maximum reach, allowing for sequences of complex movements to assemble the required components. Robots can also be equipped with a variety of tools, from standard tooling to bespoke tooling. This means that as well as creating new tooling for a process that was previously not automated, robots can conform to your production standards by utilising approved tools. From fixing applications to insertion and dispensing, robots can be used to complete any number of robotic assembly tasks.

Fixing Applications

Fixing applications are common assembly tasks that require the joining of two components with a screw, bolt or rivet. Fixing applications usually require the use of tools, which over time can cause repetitive strain injuries for operators doing this manually. Fatigue over time can also result in inconsistent quality and throughput, creating a case for automating. Robot fixing applications are high in speed, consistent and can also be made collaborative, thus providing benefits in most scenarios.

Insertion Applications

Insertion tasks are those that require the assembly of components via inserting one component into another, an example being Electronic Assembly. Electronic Assembly requires high accuracy and care to ensure correct placement and to avoid displacement of other parts. With an accuracy of up to 0.1mm, Cobots enable the automation of delicate insertion tasks.

Dispensing Applications

Dispensing tasks are commonly seen in assembly processes to dispense adhesives and other bonding agents. These processes can be tricky to complete manually, narrow paths and hard to reach areas can present issues for operators. Robots are capable of following paths with high accuracy as well as getting to those hard-to-reach areas. As well as benefiting cycle time and product consistency, the reparability of robots can help reduce excess use of adhesive, giving better control over the amount required.

Robotic Insertion of Plastic Caps
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Omron TM12

Assembly Automation with Collaborative Robots

Assembly processes are typically compact and systematic, comprising of multiple machines and processes which are integrated together to complete a number of tasks, delivering a desired end result. Enhancing these processes may often mean some level of restructuring, which can be costly and time consuming, potentially requiring downtime.

The introduction of Cobots has changed the way we view robot automation within assembly as they overcome many of the challenges previously faced. Cobots hit a perfect mid-range of payload and reach capabilities that are closer to that of a human, allowing them to be deployed across a variety of smaller, tight space processes.

Integrated safety features allow them to be deployed without the need for safety guarding, providing opportunities for a collaborative workforce of humans and robots. This also means that restructuring is kept to a minimum as they typically demand less space than that of their traditional counterparts, helping reduce investment costs.

Benefits of Manufacturing with Cobots

Cobots provide a future-proof automation platform for small businesses and businesses that may need to make production changes to accommodate changes in products and demand. Where operations change, Cobots can be redeployed onto new processes due to their size and operational flexibility that allows them to reach and manipulate within a wide scope. Smart programming interfaces and increasingly user-friendly programming allows for greater control over equipment, limiting the level of external support required to adjust or tweak programs.

The purpose of Cobots is to fill the gap in automation where flexibility is lacking, providing flexible automation solutions for smaller payload production where operators and other machinery are present. Human robot collaboration (HRC) occurs in three ways:

  • Coexistence: Humans and Robots working adjacent, but not in a shared workspace.
  • Cooperation: Humans and Robots sharing a workspace.
  • Collaboration: Humans and Robots working on the same task together.

This level of deployment flexibility means that no longer do operators have to work around the machinery, but the machinery works around them, supplementing the workforce in areas of most value.

Human Robot Collaboration - BMW
BMW KUKA Riveting Robot

Flexible Robotics

When we combine deployment ease, size, safety and smart software together, we are left with a highly flexible approach to manufacturing. Flexible manufacturing is becoming increasingly important in the modern era as online shopping and digitalisation is the driving force of manufacturing changes.

Integrate Around an Existing Line

Able to operate without guarding and in tight spaces, Cobots can be deployed to supplement existing processes with little investment in restructuring. As well as being able to supplement existing processes, the equipment can be easily repurposed onto another line as needed.

Quality and Consistency

Improved quality and consistency of products with Cobots is a benefit sought after by many manufacturers. Their high accuracy and repeatability make them great at assembly tasks which require continuous operation with a uniform output.

Robot Safety

Cobots and safety go hand in hand, designed to be safe out of the box, additional safety equipment allows for a variety of safety configurations to best fit any given operation. From scanners to light curtains and mats, Cobots can be programmed to stop or slow in the presence of an operator or foreign object.

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Reeco Assembly Robots

Cobots continue to provide value to robotic assembly processes at an increasing pace, with expanding tooling, hardware, and software frameworks. Our specialist team of robot automation experts are highly skilled in the design, manufacture, programming, and installation of Cobot systems.

We design and build solutions that fit around your requirements, whether we need to integrate a solution around existing equipment with limited space or create a solution to support your production goals.

Reeco have extensive knowledge and capabilities that enable us to create solutions that offer the highest quality and value. We provide support thorough support before, during and after projects, comprising of dedicated R&D, training and sales departments, as well as proof of concept services which allow you to validate automation ideas without the commitment.