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ROBOTIC SCREW TIGHTENING

Over recent years we have seen Collaborative robots and other trends begin to simplify the integration of robots in production, with innovations creating a continuously bigger case for their adoption. New technologies and expanding capabilities with existing technologies are providing the market with endless robotic solutions.

These innovations are beginning to make automation much more accessible to manufacturers of all sizes, opening doors to manufacturers which previously struggled to benefit from robotic automation. Expanding technology offerings bring a much wider range of robotic application possibilities, providing solutions to common production challenges which were previously solved with inflexible, hard automation.

Manual Suspended Screw Driver
Cobot Screw Driver

Automate Screw Tightening

Screw tightening is a process which is typically seen as a manual task, with most of us being familiar with screws in both work and domestic environments. Many manufacturers have now gone on to improve this process by adopting semiautomated approaches, for example operators utilising overhead automatic tools on an assembly line. While this approach is still widely used for some fastening scenarios, more and more manufacturers are looking towards newer, more efficient robotic methods to tighten screws.

As robotic technology has advanced and become more widely used, robots have become less expensive than they previously were, also being much more readily accessible to smaller manufacturers. Applications such as screw tightening are ideal for the use of robots, offering manufacturers benefits in meeting high / specific torque requirements, tightening multiple screws, quick changeovers, and high mix productions.

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Cobot Automation with a Screwdriver

The introduction of Cobots has changed the way we view robot automation within assembly processes as they overcome many of the production 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 operations.

Manual screw fixing processes in areas such as electronics can be problematic due to the small fastenings required, this can lead to product and throughput inconsistencies. Cobots are highly accurate, offering repeatable precisions of up to 0.1mm, making them perfect for tasks where accuracy is highly important.

Screw Tightening Assembly Line

Have you considered other assembly automation?

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Bolt Tightening

Riveting

Electronics

Reeco Screw Tightening Applications

Cobots can be deployed to tighten screws in any number of ways depending on a manufacturer’s requirements. Reeco have been creating and installing bespoke screw tightening solutions for manufacturers since we began, using this knowledge to pinpoint the best areas and applications to add value and deliver a return. We’ve found that screw tightening applications typically happen in two ways, the first is to be integrated as part of an assembly line, the second is situated outside of the main assembly line, with operators interacting with the application as and when required.

Assembly Line Integrations

Cobots are well suited assembly line integration, their size and flexibility allows them to be integrated into lines around existing equipment all while in close proximity to operators. Offering enhanced repeatability on tasks where automation may have been previously inaccessible, Cobots can supplement the human workforce in screw tightening assembly with little need for costly restructuring.

Integrating Cobots into assembly lines can help standardise production and support consistency and quality goals. Screw tightening applications may require specified levels of torque, which Cobots can achieve repeatedly.

Bentley Screw Tightening Cobot
On-demand production of variable SKU’s

Where production of products and parts vary, manufacturers may want to produce components on-demand in a more flexible manner. Applications can be designed as stand-alone stations, separated from the main assembly as a means of producing as and when required.

Separating from the main assembly line is typically done where processes are lower in volume, require high levels of quality control and production volume and SKUs vary. Generally these stations are intermittently supervised by operators for tasks such as loading and unloading parts. Depending on production requirements, safety features can allow operators to check the parts mid-process, with collaborative speeds and protective stop functions triggered via proximity scanners.

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Feed Screws with an Automatic Screw Feeder

Supporting Cobots in being fully autonomous in screw tightening applications, Screw feeders are an essential component in allowing Cobots to run for a long time unaided, improving productivity and uptime. Screw feeders are used to present screws in a repeatable position very quickly, leaving operators only having to replenish the hopper.

Screw feeders help streamline production in all screw fixing scenarios, with interchangeable rails, feeders can be utilised for a wide range of screw sizes, from small screws used in electronic assembly to larger screws for assemblies such as office chairs.

NJR-45 Screw Feeder
OHTAKE Screw Feeders

OHTAKE, a Japanese brand of screw feeders built on quality and durability, have a comprehensive range of screw feeders that are compatible with screws of many sizes. Deploying one of the world’s first interchangeable rail systems, OHTAKE products cater for most screw presenting requirements, with one compact screw feeder being cable to support a range of production needs.

OHTAKE feeders can also be equipped with counters for attaching a fixed number of screws or removing them all at once, making them extremely versatile for any assembly operation.

OHTAKE Screw Feeders
Automatic and Manual Screw Feeders

Screw feeders are designed for more than just robotic processes. Their benefits span to those manufacturers who still prefer semiautomated and manual methods of production, offering operators quick and reliable screw presentation. Counters can ensure the correct number of screws are used, limiting human error, while magnetic screwdriver tips and channelled screw collection points allow for quick pick up of screws and immediate fastening.

As OHTAKE’s official UK distributor, Reeco is able to supply both robotic and manual screw feeders as stand-alone products for use with your projects and operations.

Screw Feeder Pick up
Looking for a screw feeder? Reeco supply OHTAKE Feeders.
Screw Feeders
Benefits of Cobot Screwdriving

Cobots add a number of benefits to screw tightening processes. Screw tightening is a process which wasn’t as widely automated as it is today, with the facilities previously not available, or only available for specific processes and tasks. Cobots, with their reach and payloads more comparable to humans than traditional robots, fill the gap of small to medium volume manufacturers. Like most other robots, Cobots have 6 axis, enabling them to manipulate anywhere within their furthest reach capabilities, making them perfect for unfavourable tasks which may be in hard to reach areas, or require continuous repetitive movement.

The rationale for adopting industrial robots also applies to Cobots, their benefits and advantages see them provide value in areas where industrial robots were unsuitable; Cobots within screw tightening offer benefits of repeatability, and accountability that all screws are tightened.

Access a Hard to reach Angle or Area

Until recently, robotic screwdriving was typically associated large fasteners used in the automotive industry to assemble components such as chassis and power trains. Technology such as Cobots are now being increasingly deployed to work with smaller components and screws, opening doors to many other types of assembly applications.

The electronics industry, an area which is driving innovation, typically requiring lots of smaller fastenings to assemble components. The increasing automation offering for processes such as these enables innovators to streamline their processes and support flexibility for future product changes and introductions.

Consistent torque with Robotic Screwdrivers

Though offering more comparable reach and payload to that of humans, Cobots are able to operate much quicker and more accurately. Screw tightening applications require high accuracy and appropriate levels of torque, which Cobots are able to complete quickly and repeatedly, losing no productivity over time.

This creates a strong case for Cobot integration, perfectly supplementing the human workforce in areas of best value.

ASD Lighting screw tightening
Support Product Innovations and Changes

With innovation at an all time high, and consumers continuing to demand more choice and convenience, operational flexibility is becoming a core part of production strategy for future manufacturing investments. Cobots, equipped with more intuitive and smarter programming interfaces, are capable of quick redeployment and repurposing onto other tasks, making their investment a relatively future proof one when compared to traditional counterparts.

Reduced Reworking

Manual processes can often present human errors and discrepancies due to production inconsistency, slumps in productivity and staff changeovers. Capable of enhancing accuracy whilst being consistent, Cobots can help reduce the level of errors found, lessening the need for additional processes such as reworking which are inefficient, non-value-added processes.

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Supporting Smart Factories of the Future

Indsutry 4.0 is said to be the fourth industrial revolution, or the era of the ‘Smart Factory. This progressive step revolves around communications, and machines’ increasing ability to communicate with other machines for enhanced automation capabilities such as self-monitoring, configuration and diagnosis.

The introduction of Cobots supports smart factory infrastructure, their design embodies the ideas of Industry 4.0, with information transparency and on-board computers being able to link-up to the Internet of Things (IoT), communicating in any factory environment.

Data Entry and Recording

In the smart factory, data is the most valuable commodity. When used correctly, information gathered from smart tools and automation can be used to give invaluable insights into performance and efficiencies of individual tools, stations or entire production lines. This information offers detailed insights into actual production data, often real time, giving opportunity to improve efficiencies.

Data entry can also be utilised as a means of monitoring quality control, with applications tracking and recording torque readings and the successful fastening of each screw within a part.

Smart Factory
Additional Service and Support

Reeco aim to provide the highest standard in service and support. From initial discussions to final installation, Reeco offer support at every stage of your projects journey, from proof of concept to sophisticated safety systems, remote access systems and bespoke service packages.

Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept

Reeco offer a proof of concept service to help validate automation ideas and provide reassurance before the beginning of your project, eliminating the need for full commitment – Proof of concepts allow us to do the thinking for you.

Proof of Concept
Cobot Safety
Cobot Safety

Safety is a critical part of Cobot integration and paramount to a projects success. Though Cobots are typically safer than their industrial counter parts, when equipped with tooling and additional equipment a safety reassessment is required.

Cobot Safety
Remote Access
Remote Access

Reeco’s remote access solution was specifically introduced to help clients trouble shoot problems efficiently, improving access to support, saving time and reducing maintenance costs. Our remote access system allows you to react to unexpected issues with fast, expert help.

Remote Access