Find out how gear manufacturer Katsa Oy was able to achieve consistent quality in its finishing and deburring processes. Article by Renishaw.
Renishaw RMP60 probe confirming finished gear dimensions after deburring
Gear and gearbox manufacturer Katsa Oy designs and manufactures power transmission components and supplies special gear units tailored to customer’s demands. Deburring gears manually using grinding wheels can be a variable process, resulting in inconsistent finishes across parts in the same batch. Machine-shop operators have to be very skilled to achieve a quality and consistent finish, but even then, variability from one operator to another is unavoidable.
In addition, manual deburring is a dirty and hazardous job, which few operators at Katsa wanted to undertake. As a consequence, finishing and deburring operations became a bottleneck in the company’s manufacturing process, with a knock-on effect often causing significant delays.
Thinking of automating the gear deburring process, Katsa approached Flexmill Oy, the global renowned for design and build robotised cell, to build an automated cell to finish-machine and deburr gears ranging in size from 50 mm to 1.5 m diameter.
The bespoke, turnkey cell incorporates an ABB robot, a Renishaw RMP60 probe and a twin pallet system which allows one gear to be machined whilst another is loaded.
To ensure all excess material on the machined gears is removed automatically by the deburring process, the Flexmill software requires the exact geometrical parameters of the gears and the gear teeth. Some of these parameters are known and available for each of the many different gears made by Katsa.
Those parameters that are not known can be measured using the Renishaw RMP60 probe with radio signal transmission. The ABB robot uses the probe for locating parts during set-up, with the resulting positional data used by the control software to generate a complete, automated deburring cycle—with no manual programming required. Once machined, the RMP60 probe is used post-process to confirm finished dimensions.
Flexmill Cell Featuring ABB Robot and Renishaw RMP60 Probe
The RMP60’s proven kinematic resistive probe mechanism, combined with its unique frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) radio transmission ideally suited to this application. This means that communication between the probe and its receiver remains stable even if, for example, ‘line-of-sight’ is lost or if another radio source enters the environment.
Operating in the 2.4 GHz waveband, the RMP60 machine probe is compliant with radio regulations in all major industrial markets. It offers a variety of activation options, an adjustable trigger force and measurement repeatability of ±1 μm 2σ.
High precision robots working in a digitally driven factories are creating new avenues of growth for the sector. Article by Jorge Isla, ABB.
The standardised design of the FlexArc gives manufacturers the flexibility to shift the welding robot systems between cells without having to make major modifications.
As one of the most versatile and yet demanding parts of manufacturing, metal working has been preordained to undergo every technological advancement that transpires in the industrial world. The needs of the metalworking sector are as diverse as the end customers they serve. Be it a small job shop, a large automotive supplier or a foundry, metal working is a process that requires flawless execution even in harsh working conditions.
Today, trends such as the growing demand for tailor-made goods, continued globalisation that has led to a crowded market, and the everlasting pursuit for quality and efficiency, pose significant challenges to the current structure of the metalworking industry. Organisations that want to stay ahead of the curve have to pull all stops to ensure that their equipment and practices are capable enough to handle the many challenges that they encounter in this diverse industry. Automation in the form of robots and machining tools, when enhanced by digitalisation, offer the best way to improve productivity while maintaining a high level of flexibility to meet the needs of end customers.
A significant factor that contests the efficacy of a factory that we are seeing today is ability to manufacture a wide variety of parts while maintaining the capacity to constantly introduce new variants to the process without having to disrupt the normal workflow in the factory. Achieving this requires a two-pronged approach to enhance both the hardware and the overall production process.
Forging flexibility with robots
Collaborative robots are adept at adding flexibility to assembly processes that need to make small lots of highly individualized products, in short cycles.
A sure shot way to increase the flexibility of the metal working process is through robotic automation. The range of robots for metal working have not been as comprehensive as they are today. From simple material handling tasks such as shifting parts to and from the conveyor system to sophisticated robotic welding cells that perform multiple complex tasks, robots have proven to significantly improve uptime, productivity and consistency.
In the era of mass customisation, hard automation processes that execute only specific tasks offer very little in the way of agility to perform quick changeovers. On the other hand, flexible automation, typically in the form of a robot with “arms” that are capable of six axis movements with interchangeable grippers can perform a variety of tasks and are exceptional at handling large product mixes.
The IRB 14000 single and dual- arm robots from ABB are highly collaborative machines and one of the latest technologies in flexible automation. Popularly called YuMi, these robots come with the added benefits of being able to safely and seamlessly work closely with human operators and enable greater space savings as they do not require large fences or cabins. The small size, but highly dexterous robot is well-suited for picking and placing tasks as it does for a leading French automotive interior parts supplier. The dual-armed YuMi robot is installed in the small space between two simultaneously running conveyor systems where its job is to fit plates on pump handles that are used to adjust the height of vehicle seats. The plug-and-produce concept of the YuMi allows it to work well in unstructured environments.
Automation can also enhance the ability for manufacturers to perform tasks for various end customers using the same assets. Take for instance a Polish company that makes exhaust systems for the automotive industry. A significant variable in the company’s operations is that it does not have guaranteed quantity demands from end customers. To mitigate some of this uncertainty, the company installed a range of ABB’s FlexArcs at its factory in Poland. The FlexArc is a complete welding solution that features welding robots enabled with superior motion control software, positioners and other welding equipment, all built on a common platform.
What makes the FlexArc ideal for the company is that one welding cell can be easily adapted for other products. Depending on the forecast by the end customer, the company can set up the welding process and use as many or as few FlexArcs that they would need. The flexibility of the FlexArc allows the company to use the same jig to make products for different customers with minimum changes to the design, which otherwise is an expensive and often lengthy process. Ultimately, along with increased productivity and superior weld quality that the welding cell offers, it also enables the company to quickly respond to the changing demands of its customers.
ABB hosted its “2020 Smarter Mobility Innovation Forum” in Jakarta, focusing on smart solutions to support successful adoption of electric vehicles (EV) in Indonesia. This is in support of the growing EV market in Indonesia, which is undoubtedly gaining pace, especially after President Joko Widodo issued a Presidential Regulation that will accelerate the development of EV in Indonesia, laying out government support for the EV industry in August last year.
Indonesia, which is one of South-east Asia’s largest economies, registers annual car sales of about one million units. The government aims for electric vehicles to make up at least 20 percent of total domestic vehicle sales by 2025, reducing the country’s reliance on imported fossil fuels and enabling Indonesia to maximise its abundant nickel reserves, a key material for making lithium-ion batteries.
A broad range of topics related to the EV industry in Indonesia were discussed, including global trends and technology shaping the market, different impacts and benefits of smart mobility, and technical matters such as reliable AC and DC fast charging stations with robust connectivity and innovative on-demand electric bus charging systems.
As part of ABB’s Mission to Zero, the company offers total solutions across the full e-mobility value chain, from power generation and distribution to connection to the vehicle. These efforts by ABB have provided strategic support to the government’s effort to adopt smart, reliable and emission-free mobility solutions.
“ABB has sold more than 13,000 DC fast chargers in more than 80 countries including Indonesia and the demand keeps on growing. Our state-of-the art EV charger solutions are example of how ABB keeps innovating on technologies that will help our customers and partners pursue their goals toward a zero-emission future,” said Jorge Aguinaga, Local Business Manager for Electrification business in Indonesia.
ABB has launched its Performance Optimisation Service for long product rolling mills, an advanced service powered by ABB Ability Data Analytics for long product rolling mills, a digital solution which applies process-specific analysis to large volumes of complex data. This helps metals producers to achieve unprecedented levels of yield, quality and productivity, with remote monitoring and support via ABB’s Collaborative Operations Centers.
ABB’s Performance Optimisation Service for long product rolling mills allows operations to be monitored around the clock from ABB’s Collaborative Operations Centers, where experts alert designated onsite staff to process deviations and disturbances and advise on corrective action, supporting faster, more data-driven decisions that will enhance process performance. To facilitate continuous improvement, ABB utilises process insights to generate regular reports identifying focus areas and recommended actions. Enterprise-level integration provides insights across multiple mills, enabling users to identify and analyse trends that could impact performance at several sites.
The solution at the core of this service – ABB Ability Data Analytics for long product rolling mills – integrates with ABB Ability Data Analytics Platform for metals and is able to collect high frequency data in real-time from data acquisition systems, such as Iba or over other industry standard communication protocols, and analyse the performance of the mill with process-specific algorithms. It uses the data to detect deviations, identify their root cause and determine trends, benchmarks and other performance factors including predicting and preventing faults before they affect production. Data is collected in real-time, stored securely onsite at the customer’s premises using the ABB Historian server, and visualised for designated users in intuitive, customisable dashboards.
Whether it is to help humans build automobiles on a production line or assemble intricate parts at a family-run business, collaborative robots represent a paradigm shift not only in automation but also in work dynamics. Article by Andie Zhang, ABB.
Collaborative robots (cobots) have been changing the rules of the industrial world over the past decade. With sensors and built-in safety functions, these dexterous industrial robots can work safely alongside humans, enabling greater flexibility in a wide range of industries around the world.
Technologies such as ABB’s SafeMove2 can make any connected industrial robot a collaborative one, which allow the cobots to be installed without the need for physical barriers such as fences and cages that have traditionally been a requirement for generations of industrial robots. Working with collaborative robots is more than just the robot themselves. It is about the application which can take place at many levels, with incremental benefits at each.
One such way is the ability for cobot to co-exist safely with humans on the same fenceless factory floor, which significantly reduces the space taken up by the robot. The feature is ideal for applications like palletising where the robot can maximise productivity without compromising on safety.
Another way cobots can maximise flexibility and efficiency is by synchronised collaboration where the human and the robot work together in a planned but more intermittent manner, for tasks such as machine tending that require some amount of human interaction along with the robot’s speed and precision. Finally, the highest level of collaboration is for the robot and human to co-operate with each other to share workspaces and tasks continuously. This is especially useful for small parts assembly lines.
Collaborative robots also provide manufacturers with the flexibility to manage the shift to low-volume/high-mix production. Collaborative robots add agility to change between products and introduce new products faster. The people on the production line contribute their unique problem-solving capabilities, insights and adaptability to change, while robots bring tireless precision and endurance for repetitive tasks.
Going large by going small
The global market for collaborative robots is estimated to be valued at $12.3 billion by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of more than 50 percent, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets.
But where is that potential stemming from? One key driver for growth is the development of collaborative robots for workplaces outside large manufacturing environments. While robotic automation technology has evolved significantly over the years to meet the growing demands for high volume industrial production, it has also evolved to create smaller collaborative robots such as YuMi, which is designed to fit easily into existing production lines to increase productivity while working safely alongside people.
The inherent qualities of collaborative robots make them ideal automation solutions that can be game changers for smaller manufacturers by helping them boost productivity, reduce operating costs and even improve the safety and retention rate of employees. At the outset, collaborative robot installation is far cheaper than large industrial ones because of their smaller size and fewer peripheral equipment. This means that the investment needed for a robotic work cell can go down from over $200,000 to under $50,000.
Robots that create better work environment
Another attractive proposition to make the case for cobots is the lack of labour that is prevalent in most markets. The current generation of working people who have grown up in the digital world, are more qualified than their predecessors and do not want to spend hours performing dirty, dull, dangerous and repetitive tasks such as picking and placing products from bins, tending to machines or packaging finished goods. Also, with shorter product lifecycles, small manufacturers who operate in high labour cost countries and are closer to their end customers cannot simply outsource labour to low-cost countries like large corporations do. In these conditions, collaborative robots are ideal as they not only reduce the need for manual labour, but can work tirelessly and with higher quality, allowing their human co-workers to perform more stimulating work that can lead to higher job satisfaction.
By automating monotonous and often more tasking jobs, manufacturers can also improve the safety of their employees. For instance, Anodica, an Italian family-run business that makes high-end metal handles, knobs and trimmings for appliance and automotive industries use YuMi, a dual-armed collaborative robot from ABB, to assemble their products together with an operator. The robot cell was designed anthropometrically around the operator so that all activities are ergonomically managed. By doing this, the company helps employees avoid short- and long-term injuries related to working in a factory.
Hit the ground running
In the past, setting up an industrial robot could take days if not weeks, disrupting ongoing work that can lead to bottlenecks in production. On the contrary, the plug-and-play qualities of modern cobots such as the YuMi means that they can be installed much more quickly, leading to minimal interference with production processes. Also, their small footprint and features that make them easily movable make cobots suitable for automating existing production lines.
Technological advancements have made collaborative robots far more intuitive than their conventional counterparts. Features such as lead-through programming and user-friendly touch screen interface allow operators with no programming experience to quickly program the robot. Software simulation tools such as RobotStudio offered by ABB allows operators to program the robot and simulate the application on a computer without shutting down production. This helps speed up the time taken to get the robot running, which is especially useful for organisations that have short product cycles. Moreover, digital twin technology can be used to develop a complete and operational virtual representation of a robot on which diagnostics, prediction and simulation can be run to optimise the machine even before it is set up.
Full flexibility for all
Robotic automation in the traditional sense can be challenging for small manufacturers who make high-mix, low-volume products. Collaborative robots, which are more dexterous than fixed automation, offer much-needed flexibility to production. Their lightweight and easy-to-use features means cobots can be moved around a factory floor to perform different tasks.
Today, large corporations are also enjoying the benefits of cobots being able to work in close proximity with humans. For example, the automotive industry, which has a high degree of automation in areas like the body shop and paint shop, can use cobots to automate the final trim and assembly of vehicles. Here, the robots work closely with humans who add finishing touches to the vehicle while robots perform more repetitive tasks.
Suppliers to the automotive industry, like France-based Faurecia Group, which makes interior components, are also using collaborative robots like ABB’s YuMi to maintain flexibility and increase productivity at their plant in Caligny.
Where from here?
The future of collaborative robotics lies in developing enhanced software features such as cloud connectivity and machine learning that increase their functionalities and make them even safer and easier to use. Software features like ABB’s SafeMove2 ensure that industrial robots are also able to work collaboratively and safety with humans, while QuickMove and TrueMove guarantee superior motion control. Adding more intelligence to robots through artificial intelligence will take the advantages of collaborative robotic automation to the next level.
Whether it is to help humans build automobiles on a production line or assemble intricate parts at a family-run business, collaborative robots represent a paradigm shift not only in automation but also in work dynamics.
Bjorn Rosengren, president and CEO of Sandvik, intends to resign and leave the company on February 1, 2020. He will join ABB and succeed Peter Voser as CEO effective March 1, 2020.
The Sandvik Board of Directors are now starting to work to appoint a new president and CEO for Sandvik.
“Since he joined Sandvik in November 2015, Bjorn Rosengren has established a solid decentralised business model for the company and made the organisation more flexible and efficient. The Board is very grateful for his and all the employees’ work during these years. We will initiate the process to assign a very experienced and competent industrial leader that can succeed Bjorn in the role as President and CEO and continue to develop the company even further,” says Johan Molin, Chairman of the Board for Sandvik.
Rosengren is a highly experienced, international executive and leader of industrial businesses. As CEO of Sandvik, he has overseen the successful implementation of a decentralised structure and improved both the profitability and financial strength of the company. Prior to that, he was CEO of Wartsila Corp., which manufactures and services power sources and other equipment for the marine and energy markets (2011-2015), and spent some thirteen years (1998-2011) in a variety of management roles at Atlas Copco, a world leading provider of sustainable productivity solutions.
“This has not been an easy decision. Sandvik is a great company with a lot of future potential and I will continue to lead the organisation with a strong commitment until end of January,” says Rosengren.
ABB’s new digital switchgear, the ABB Ability air-insulated switchgear (AIS) for medium-voltage (MV) or UniSec Digital builds upon the company’s MV AIS technologies to enable safe, flexible and smart electrical networks that can deliver power reliably and efficiently and provides an added function of serving secondary power distribution needs as well. It also allows for flexibility and expansion of the switchgear line-up without the need for complex additional wiring. The new digital switchgear technology is also easily adaptable and changes can be introduced with software logic in the protection relays via interoperability in the IEC 61850, which is a communications standard that was established in response to the challenges in connected Industry 4.0 ecosystems.
ABB has won an order of about $18 million from Indian Railways to supply traction transformers. These transformers are customised for the WAP-7 type electric locomotive, which is a 6000 horsepower strong locomotive capable of hauling 24 coaches at speeds of up to 140 kilometers per hour.
The project is part of the ‘Mission Electrification’ initiative of Indian Railways, which aims to convert an additional 24,000 kilometers of railways from fossil fuels to electrification. The mission also aims to enhance energy efficiency by adopting high quality equipment and facilitating the increased adoption of renewable energy in railway operations.
“We are proud to extend our long-standing relationship with the Indian Railways and contribute to the electrification of the country’s rail network. These transformers have been specially designed to deliver the highest levels of performance and efficiency,” said Laurent Favre, head of ABB’s transformers business, a part of the company’s Power Grids division.
The transformers will be manufactured at ABB’s Vadodara facility in Gujarat.
ABB transformers power about half the world’s electrical locomotives and train sets, and most train manufacturers and rail operators rely on them. ABB’s traction transformers are compact, lightweight and extremely reliable. In addition to traction power solutions, ABB provides a diverse power portfolio for rail and urban transport solutions including static frequency converter stations, power quality systems, ABB Ability network management systems, energy recuperation and energy storage systems, system studies and dynamic traction power supply simulations based on powerful software tools.
ABB has won an ASEAN Energy Award for the installation of the first-of-its-kind public EV charging station, supporting the Malaysian government’s efforts to accelerate a wider adoption of electric mobility.
ABB`s Terra 53 fast charging station, located in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, reduces the typical charging time from two hours, when using conventional public AC chargers, to around 15 minutes for electric vehicles with storage capacities of approximately 24kWh. The station also utilises electricity generated by a rooftop solar installation at the ABB facility, providing a 100 percent carbon neutral mobility solution. Thus, reflecting the company’s commitment to strengthening the country’s EV ecosystem and to reducing carbon emissions.
ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi, presented the award to ABB at the 36th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting, (AMEM) Official Dinner held in Singapore, on October 29, 2018.
Malaysia targets to deploy 100,000 electric cars, 2,000 electric buses and 125,000 charging stations by 2030. The expansion is in line with efforts to reduce dependence on fossil fuel in the transportation sector and to drive down carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030 in compliance with the Paris climate accord.
“The opportunity for sustainable mobility is immense,” said Frank Muehlon, Managing Director for electric vehicle charging infrastructure at ABB. “Every day, new smarter mobility alternatives are challenging conventional vehicles and the use of fossil fuels. The award recognizes our efforts to take our technology leadership to the next level to find new solutions to catalyse this shift in Malaysia and across the fast developing ASEAN region, whether in cars and buses, trains or ships.”
ABB installed the Terra 53 fast charger last year at its premises in Subang Jaya outside of Kuala Lumpur. It is available daily to EV drivers at zero cost as a ‘drive-thru’ convenience, instead of the traditional approach of using parking bays.
Over 8,000 fast chargers, including high power chargers up to 350 kW, have been installed by ABB across 68 countries, more chargers than any other manufacturer. In addition to Malaysia, the chargers can be found in the region in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Fortune Magazine recently ranked ABB as number eight on its list of companies that are “changing the world”. This is in recognition of the advances that the company has made in e-mobility and EV charging.
ABB received the award as a special submission under the renewable energy category and was amongst over 60 other recipients. The winners were selected based on their projects, which involved innovation or best practices in the field of renewable energy research, development, demonstration, and commercialisation. Special focus was given to projects that were relevant to ASEAN Member States in terms of regional interests and cooperation on sustainable energy.
The ASEAN Centre for Energy is an intergovernmental organization established by Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
ABB has announced a major, new US$150 million investment in Shanghai, China where the company will build an advanced, automated and flexible robotics factory that is expected to be operational by 2020. A cutting-edge center where robots make robots, the new Kangqiao manufacturing center will be located close to ABB’s expansive China robotics campus and aims to combine the company’s connected digital technologies, including ABB Ability solutions, collaborative robotics and innovative artificial intelligence research to create a “factory of the future.”
In 2017, one of every three robots sold in the world went to China, which purchased nearly 138,000 units and is recognised as the world’s largest robotics market. ABB’s CEO, Ulrich Spiesshofer, and the Mayor of Shanghai, Ying Yong, have also signed a comprehensive strategic cooperation agreement focused on supporting industry, energy, transport and infrastructure developments in the region, as well as to support the “Made in Shanghai” manufacturing initiative.
“China’s commitment to transform its manufacturing is a torchlight for the rest of the world,” said Spiesshofer. “Its strategic embrace of the latest technologies for artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and cloud-based computing present a playbook for every country that wishes to have a globally competitive manufacturing base. Shanghai has become a vital center for advanced technology leadership – for ABB and the world. We look forward to working with Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong, other community leaders and our customers as we launch this major expansion of ABB’s substantial presence in China, building on our journey to become China’s leading Robotics manufacturer that started in Shanghai over two decades ago.”
Leading The Way With a Digital Factory Of The Future – Tailored Solutions And Better Performance
The new Shanghai factory will feature a number of machine learning, digital and collaborative solutions to make it the most advanced, automated and flexible factory in the robotics industry, while an onsite R&D centre will help accelerate innovations in artificial intelligence. Using a new, global design approach that ABB announced earlier this year, the factory will be able to dramatically increase both the breadth (type of robots) and depth (variants of each type) of robots that can be made onsite, allowing for an enhanced and accelerated customisation process to meet the needs of customers.
ABB will also be able to combine this expanded portfolio of robotics into an almost limitless number of tailored solutions. “The concept behind this factory is the same advice we give our customers every day: invest in automation solutions that provide flexibility and agility to grow in whichever direction the market goes,” said Sami Atiya, President of ABB’s Robotics and Motion division. “ABB is proud to help our customers in China and around the world with solutions that take full advantage of the latest technologies to meet the challenges of mass customisation, faster cycles and constant change which have become the new normal – even in our own factories.”
The entire Shanghai factory will be modeled as a digital twin, which will provide intuitively tailored dashboards for management, engineers, operators and maintenance experts to make the best decisions. This includes gathering and analysing intelligence on the health and performance of robots within the factory to ensure early identification of potential anomalies. In addition to avoiding costly downtime, ABB Ability offers advanced digital solutions that can improve performance, reliability and energy usage, as well as provide access to cloud platforms, such as the Microsoft Azure enterprise cloud, which is also the first international public cloud service operated in China.
An Innovative Design That Makes Better Use Of Manufacturing Space
The new factory will have an innovative, flexible floorplan based on interlinked islands of automation rather than fixed assembly lines. The company’s logistics automation solutions will a;so be used throughout the plant, including automatic guided vehicles that can autonomously follow robots as they move through production, supplying them with parts from localised stations. This will allow production to adapt and scale efficiently to changes in China’s robot market without additional capacity expansions.
Per Vegard Nerseth, Managing Director of ABB’s Robotics business, said “There’s a large shift away from looking at factory size and CAPEX investments as the way to meet future demand. The concept behind our new factory is to make the smartest and most flexible use of every metre of production. That comes from combining agile automation solutions with the great capabilities of our people.”
To aid the move to mass customisation in manufacturing and to ensure the highest levels of productivity and flexibility, the new Shanghai factory will make extensive use of ABB’s SafeMove2 software, which allows people and robots to work safely in close proximity. In addition, the company’s YuMi robots will allow for close collaboration on many of the small parts assembly tasks needed to manufacture an ABB robot.
ABB was an early entrant in the China robotics market and the first global robot supplier in the country to have a complete local value chain, including R&D, manufacturing, system integration and service. Through close customer collaborations, ABB has helped introduce many “firsts” to local manufacturing including:
China’s first automotive press, welding and painting lines; the first assembly line for mobile phones; and the first automated press line for white goods.
“2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening- up policy,” said Dr. Chunyuan Gu, Chairman of ABB China and President, AMEA region. “ABB was an early arriver in China and we now have a fully localised value chain, supported by China’s remarkable economic and social development. As the market leader in China’s robotics industry, we are glad to build on this success and continue our investment momentum.”
The new Shanghai factory – with a comprehensive R&D centre onsite – will become a key part of ABB’s global robotics supply system, together with the company’s recently upgraded factory in Västerås, Sweden and its factory in Auburn Hills, Michigan, where ABB remains the only global robot supplier with a US manufacturing footprint.