Nidec – Human Robot Collaboration

Control Techniques, a Nidec brand, required an improvement in product consistency and repeatability. A cobot pick and place application comprising of two UR3 collaborative robots was deployed at the manufacturers plant in Newtown, Powys which assist the team with printed circuit board (PCB) assembly. With an accuracy of 0.1mm the cobots provided Control Techniques with improved precision and consistency. The integration of this station has allowed operators who were previously working on this task to attend more cost-effective and less labour-intensive tasks.

The Company
Control Techniques make drives and drive-related technologies and have over 47 years of heritage based on this since their founding in 1972. In February 2017 Control Techniques joined the Nidec Corporation making them part of operations in over 40 countries with connections to 300 companies and 110,000 employees.

The Original Process
The original process saw operators manually place daughter cards and connectors onto printed circuit boards requiring high levels of accuracy and consistency which presented Control Techniques with a challenge. As much of the prior assembly involves the automated placement of smaller electrical components, it’s highly critical that the daughter cards and connectors are placed accurately and with care to ensure correct placement and to avoid the displacement of other parts. This process came with its inconsistencies due to operator variables such as the accuracy of a repeated motion over long periods and staff change overs. Integrating a cobot pick and place application into this process would solve these challenges and provide Control Techniques with consistent and measurable cycle times whilst ensuring the accurate placement of board components.

Reeco RB base series

Reeco’s Solution
To increase repeatability, accuracy and alleviate operators from the highly repetitive process, a cobot pick and place application incorporating two UR3 collaborative robots was developed. The application was integrated into a section of a wider production process in which PCB’s receive necessary parts for assembly. The application fully automated the process of connector and daughter card placement through a compact cobot station which was integrated into their production line for maximum collaboration. Two UR3’s were chosen for this project as their size makes them perfect for light assembly and automated workbench scenarios. Moreover, their size means they can work in tight space conditions enabling two UR3’s to be deployed together in tandem, yielding improved efficiency and cycle times. The cobots are mounted onto a custom Reeco robot Base (RB Base) which are made bespoke for each project as per the requirements. The RB base is the heart of 99% of our solutions, housing all the electrical components and hardware whilst also providing table top space for additional equipment, for this project the table top is home to a bowl feeder and a supply of connector parts.

This compact approach to cobot solutions allows companies like Control Techniques to automate unfavourable processes within tight space conditions and take back control of cycle times and product consistency.


Issues Solved

  • Automation of connector and daughter card placement

  • Improved product consistency

  • Efficient integration of cobot into the production line

  • Reduced the risk of repetitive strain injury

Value Added To The Process

  • Improved cycle times

  • Increased repeatability and accuracy

  • Collaborative and safe