In collaboration with Netherlands-Thai Chambers of Commerce (NTCC), KUKA is hosting a webinar as part of the NTCC Industry 4.0 series: “Embracing Robotic Applications in Boosting Economic Performance within APeC” on Wednesday 30 September 2020 from 16:00 – 17:15 (ICT).
This sharing session will emphasise on Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing, Market Intelligence for Robotics and Trends for APeC countries, including case studies, opportunities and challenges. Guest speakers include; Mr. Alan Fam, Chief Regional Officer of KUKA Robotics – APeC, Mr. Neoh Sin Joo, Regional Sales Director of KUKA Robotics – APeC, and Mr. Tawiwat Reongpunyaroj, Chief Executive Officer of KUKA Thailand & Vietnam.
Date: Wednesday 30 September 2020
Time: 16:00 – 17:15 (ICT)
Platform: Zoom (webinar link will be sent to you after registration is completed.)
The future of manufacturing is brimming with opportunity—it is full of new technologies designed to reduce waste and maximise process efficiency and flexibility through software and hardware capabilities. Article by Rahav Madvil, Simulation Product Manager for Siemens Digital Industries Software, and Noam Ribon, Senior Business Consultant at Siemens Digital Industries Software.
Industrial manufacturing as a sector has been an early adopter of robotics and other forms of technological improvements for decades. Robotics have been one of the best options to increase production efficiency for large and often highly repetitive manufacturing processes. But the era of producing large quantities of just a few products with low mix is coming to an end, giving way to increased product personalisation requiring a more flexible production process with less waste than ever before.
Fortunately, the future of manufacturing is brimming with opportunity. It is full of new technologies designed to reduce waste and maximise process efficiency and flexibility through software and hardware capabilities. Almost all of this promise is built upon a foundation of digital transformation – and the digital twin. Everything from raw material tracking to process optimisations to hardware selection stem from insights gained from the digital twin and a closed-loop optimisation of entire facilities.
The most difficult aspect of any change to operation are the inevitable changes to process—they are expensive twice over, because nothing is being produced and resources are still being consumed. An autonomous transport initiative squarely addresses this, relying on a few, key technologies to make it happen.
The Power of Virtual Commissioning
Creating a comprehensive digital twin of your production process can greatly reduce downtime for new machines, new processes and new products. Let’s say you need to install a new CNC station. What if the processes for this new machine could be validated before it ever arrived on the production floor by using the digital twin of the production line? Less time could be spent integrating the new component into the overall production lines through line integration as a part of virtual commissioning. Available today, virtual commissioning is the critical underpinning to an efficient production environment enabling a closed-loop iterative optimisation of the entire facility.
Virtual commissioning is vital, not only for testing software controls, but for adding insight to the efficiency of the controls strategy. It is also essential for embarking on the advanced robotics journey, laying the groundwork for implementing greater process automation and flexibility needed to efficiently implement tomorrow’s manufacturing technologies today.
Simulate Everything Upfront
One of the best options to minimise risk when updating an existing process or making a new one is to simulate the new operations. It nearly eliminates upfront investment in machinery before knowing whether the new process will operate as expected on the shop floor. For new digitalisation efforts, this is where a digital twin should be established for the process. Without a comprehensive study of the actions within a plant new equipment could be under-utilised leading to lost investment.
Just as important is the implementation of IoT devices, that serve to close the loop between the digital twin and the physical processes once the new processes have been initiated. Although these devices are often embedded in new production equipment, but it is important to consider how to best maximise the voluminous data they generate to gain crucial insight into the production process.
Next Generation Programming
Another route to maximising production time even when supporting a high product mix is to expedite the reprogramming of the robotics in use on the factory floor. Without integrated robotic control, updating a robotic arm for a new task can be incredibly time-consuming. It needs to be taken offline, reprogrammed, validated and restarted, for each robot that will handle the new processes.
Siemens Digital Industries Software bring flexibility to robotic arms by enabling automation for flexible products.
All that changes by integrating the programmable logic controllers for these robots into the comprehensive digital twin. Much of this process can be streamlined. Does a bolt spacing on a phone need to be shifted slightly to accommodate the latest 5G wireless antenna? If the entire fleet of robots working on that production line could understand the change, that would save many hours across multiple engineering and production teams. Engineers simply need to let the robots know of the change and any differences in manufacturing tolerances can be accounted for with closed loop sensing through visual or force feedback. With force feedback within the robotic arm, any force exerted over a defined threshold can initiate a pause to the robotic arm’s actions and readjust positioning to address the perceived problem. Instead of shutting them down for reprogramming, all the robots working on the project can adjust independently to subtle changes.
Although this might sound like some futuristic scenario, task-based programming has already been tested in the real world. In a partnership between AtriMinds and B/S/H/, Siemens Digital Industries Software helped bring flexibility to robotic arms by enabling automation for flexible products. Previously, one of the largest hurdles to automating assembly was how to work with flexible components. Traditional robotics rigidly follow predefined movements, so if something were to inadvertently shift, the whole assembly could be destroyed. But by implementing force sensing on the robotic arms, there is an almost intuitive understanding of the parts and how the robot is interacting with the workpiece at its station. If a hole is slightly out of place on a panel, the input from force sensors can help the robot redirect its movement and thread a screw through without complex, preprogrammed instructions for misalignment scenarios.
Optimising Production with Autonomous Robotics
Simulation, virtual commissioning and advanced robotics programming lay the foundation for a fully flexible production floor, but automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) weave it all together and bring it to life. Historically, conveyor belts acted as the material flow paths on a shop floor. They efficiently move product from point A to point B but require semi-static positioning. Even mobile conveyor systems, common in logistics work, take time to move and to ensure a safe path for product.
Heatmap from simulating AGV and AMR activity on a manufacturing floor.
In contrast, AGVs and AMRs can change their path during transit. This saves time that would have been spent readjusting existing features, this is critical for a flexible production environment. Imagine a production floor, making two distinct version of a product. For version one, the bolts need to be added before the secondary assembly is added, while in version two bolts cannot be added until after the sub-assembly has been mounted. In a static conveyor facility, this could be completed given enough conveyor length and a sorting mechanism. Beyond a couple variations to the production sequence the factory would fill up with conveyor loops that only transport a few products at a time, defeating one of the main goals of the technology But with a fleet of AGVs or AMRs moving materials and work pieces throughout the facility, products can be rerouted and the sequence reordered to another machine. Or, in the case of highly customised consumer products, components could be routed to the best machine for the task. It can account for how much time is required to switch over to the new process, how many units can it produce compared to other machines, and even the impact of a re-route on other processes on the shop floor.
Reaping the Benefits of Tomorrow’s Robotics Today
Achieving all this requires a highly integrated production process. To guarantee a product is still made correctly during an automated process change, it needs to be simulated beforehand using a digital twin. To certify the product can be made in the new location, the production machine needs to be validated for the task using virtual commissioning. And to ensure the slightly different parts don’t produce errors in the process, the machines themselves need to be flexible to adapt to in real time to changing conditions with AGVs and AMRs.
Properly managing all these variables can have an incredibly positive effect on process performance, in fact it can produce up to a 40 percent improvement in labour productivity, according to a 2020 McKinsey study. Understanding the shop floor is an invaluable proposition and will continue to net savings and improvements through the life of the facility, even making it last longer by reducing maintenance overhead and costs with the improved condition monitoring of extensive IoT and the comprehensive digital twin.
Hypertherm has released the Robotmaster Version 7.3 offline robot programming software with extensive features and enhancements designed to further simplify robotic programming.
Additions found in V7.3 include:
Support for the newest CAD file types, 3D printing software, and third-party plugs-in for software brands such as CATIA, SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor, Siemens, Solid Edge, AutoCAD, Pro-E/Creo, Rhino, and more.
Performance improvements for faster data processing and robot code output when creating additive manufacturing paths in addition to post processor enhancements for major robot brands such as Kuka, ABB, and Fanuc.
The addition of new modules including a spray simulation module for companies who use robots to spray, coat, or paint products as well as a module that simulates material deposition during additive manufacturing, adhesive dispensing, welding, and similar applications.
Numerous productivity enhancements to existing modules for more accurate time estimates, the ability to quickly import g-code from 3D slicing software including Cura and Slic3r, and the ability to automatically set a cutting direction based on material location with respect to the path.
Notable enhancements to the path import module providing users with an option to read custom instructions and set process activations and deactivations directly from imported code and enjoy a more accurate interaction, process simulation, and robot code output for both g-code and APT formats.
“The many new features found in V7.3 are based on close work with many of our current customers to understand how we can further streamline offline robotic programming,” explains Garen Cakmak, leader of Hypertherm’s Robotic Software Team.
“By adding support for more software types, files, and robots, we are helping customers solve sometimes complex challenges quickly and easily.”
Highly specialised aerospace engine components such as turbine blades and discs or blisks involve a number of metrological challenges. Here’s how MTU Aero Engines are addressing them all. Article by Bruker Alicona.
The automatic measurement and evaluation of radii, chamfers and break edge on turbine engine components is one of many criteria in modern quality assurance at MTU Aero Engines. Currently three Cobot systems from Bruker Alicona are in use for break edge measurement. On top, the optical measuring solutions replace labor intensive replica techniques and tactile methods in defect measurement.
“If there’s a burr, this could become a danger point in the engine,” says Michael Duffek, inspection planner at MTU Aero Engines, and also responsible for quality assurance of turbine engine components. For the company, automated measurement and evaluation of edges, radii and chamfers of engine components is an important part of modern, state-of-the-art measurement technology.
Highly specialized components such as turbine blades, turbine discs or blisks (blade integrated disk) are measured, and they involve a number of metrological challenges. These include, for example, the complex geometry with steep flanks as well as varying reflection properties of the components. Different surface reflections occur due to varying manufacturing processes, as surfaces to be measured are either coated, and thus matt, or ground, and thus highly reflective.
For a suitable measuring system, this means that it must not only offer the required automation options including standard-compliant evaluation, but must also be able to measure complex, difficult-to-access geometries with tight tolerances and matt to reflective surfaces in high resolution and repeatability. A further requirement is the integration into a production process including integration into the existing IT environment.
“And the whole thing has to be fast and straightforward,” Duffek says. As a result, there are now 15 Bruker Alicona measurement systems in use at MTU locations worldwide, 11 of which are located at the test centers of the German headquarters in Munich. This is also where the automated measurement of turbine engine components takes place, which are implemented with measuring equipment from the Bruker Alicona Cobot line.
Combine an Optical 3D Sensor with a Collaborative Robot
Cobots are a combination of a collaborative 6-axis robot and a high-resolution optical 3D measurement sensor to be used for the automatic inspection of microgeometries on large components. In the aerospace industry, the measurement of deburred edges, also known as “break edge measurement”, on turbine disks and turbine housings are the most common applications. Bruker Alicona Cobots have been available on the market since 2017, and even then “nothing comparable has existed, at least we are not aware of any system. What the Cobot already offered three years ago at the market launch was unique. All the other manufacturers we evaluated would have had to start at the development stage,” Duffek recalls. He is now a ‘Cobot expert’ because under his leadership, three systems for the automated measurement of edges, radii and defects are currently in use in Munich.
Industrial robots have offered benefits to many organisations ever since it was first introduced, but collaborative robots (cobots) have been a game-changing force recently. Article by Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots.
Cobots made automation accessible and affordable for many organisations for whom traditional robotics were out of reach. But automating appropriately means evaluating your specific situation to make the best choice. The industry is changing rapidly, and new robotic capabilities are blurring the lines between collaborative and industrial robots. Now, manufacturers must determine whether an industrial robot or cobot is best suited for the job.
Robots and cobots: The key differences
The simplest way to understand how cobots and industrial robots differ is that cobots are designed to work alongside human employees, while industrial robots do work in place of those employees. A cobot can assist employees with work that may be too dangerous, strenuous, or tedious for them to accomplish on their own, creating a safer, more efficient workplace without eliminating factory jobs involved in the actual fabrication of a product. By contrast, industrial robots are used to automate the manufacturing process almost entirely without human help on the manufacturing floor. This, in turn, frees up employees for more meaningful tasks that are less mundane and are less prone to repetitive motion injuries.
Cobots are also easily programmable as compared to industrial robots because of cobots “learning” capability on the job. A factory worker can re-program a cobot simply by moving the arm along the desired trajectory. From there, the cobot will “remember” the new movement and be able to repeat it on its own. Industrial robots cannot be so easily reprogrammed and require a programmer to write new code for any changes in the process to be implemented.
Industrial robots can handle heavier, larger materials like those used in automotive manufacturing, but also require safety cages to keep humans out of the workspace. However, cobots are designed to work in close proximity to humans, they are safe enough to function around people and do not require the same kinds of safety infrastructure industrial robots do (upon risk assessment).
Common Manufacturing Industry Misconceptions
Robots have a lot going for them in terms of reducing safety risks to employees, improving efficiency, and cutting overhead costs, but unfortunately, there are several misunderstandings about the best solution to incorporate robotics. For example, purchasers occasionally expect their cobots to replace low-skilled factory workers entirely or take on heavy manufacturing tasks best suited for an industrial robot. Cobots are specifically designed to work in conjunction with human workers and perform best as a minimally disruptive solution to safety concerns and efficiency inhibitors. Cobots have so much greater potential to revolutionise manufacturing when implemented correctly.
Another area that brings confusion is in regard to customisation options and costs. Cobots and industrial robots can both be customised, but due to their size and differences in capacity and application, one should not expect the cost or engineering required for both machines to be analogous. Some cobot brands have customisable pre-engineered designs that reduce the cost and time necessary for tailoring an automated solution to the application, however, some operations will inevitably benefit more from greater levels of customisation. Industrial robots are also available in both custom and standard models depending on the application, and these larger and more complex robots have a proportionate cost associated with them. Cost and the necessary engineering involved is entirely dependent on the needs of the customer, and being open to a wide array of solutions is the best approach to robotics.
Robotics is a considerable investment for businesses. There are arguments for both industrial robots and cobots. Although the truth is that there is a steady shift from robots to cobots, but both machines remain significant in different factory floors. Manufacturers need to understand the differences between both machines and select one based on their application needs. There is space on the market for both robots and cobots but the power lies in one’s requirement.
SESTO Robotics has launched SESTO Magnus – a bi-directional, compact autonomous mobile robot able to carry loads up to 300kg. Having the highest payload rating in the compact class, SESTO Magnus is designed to automate material handling processes in manufacturing, commercial and healthcare industries.
The global AGV & AMR market is expected to grow from USD 2.2 billion 2020 to USD 9.9 billion in 2023, according to a report by Interact Analysis. While COVID has delayed some automation projects, AMR revenue growth is predicted to double in 2021. The 2023 revenues of the AMR and AGV market is predicted to be nearly USD 600 million higher post-COVID19.
Specially built for tight navigation in space-scarce facilities, SESTO Magnus is able to autonomously travel through spaces as narrow as 0.9 metres wide while avoiding obstacles in its path. Its bi-directional same-speed capability means the autonomous mobile robot can reverse out of dead ends without doing a spot turn.
“With the world easing into the COVID-19 new normal, there is an accelerated urgency for manufacturers and non-manufacturing industries to quickly automate their processes while ensuring safe management measures such as staggered workforce or spilt team arrangements. SESTO Magnus’ small and low profile is designed with manufacturing, healthcare and commercial facilities in mind. Its intelligent software controls enable it to operate safely in narrow passageways and amongst people,” said Mr Ang Chor Chen, Chief Executive of SESTO Robotics.
Using a single mobile platform, SESTO Magnus is highly versatile and can be configured with limitless applications of autonomous material transportation. From components and parts in manufacturing, to laundry and meal services in hospitality and care facilities, to central sterile services and dispensaries in hospitals, the autonomous mobile robot can be fitted with various top module configurations, customisable to requirements.
Powered by SESTO’s proprietary user-friendly interface, operators can easily deploy SESTO Magnus for material transportation using a tablet or laptop. The robot provides high uptime of up to ten hours on a single charge and fast battery charging in three hours.
The benefits of collaborative automation are undisputed – more profitability, productivity, flexibility, higher quality and even more employee satisfaction. Given the current economic landscape, manufacturers need these advantages now more than ever. Collaborative robots (cobots) are a proven, valuable and accessible solution for manufacturers of any size. The following are the reasons why one should increase automation in their factory.
Cobots ease labour shortages
The top challenge manufacturers face is the gap between the demand and availability of workers. Unfortunately, the labour shortages will only get worse in the coming years. Research from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute found that over the next 10 years starting from 2020, manufacturers will need to add approximately 4.6 million manufacturing jobs – 2.4 of which may go unfilled.
Cobots can help ease the burden by filling the labour gaps. Cobots can be programmed, operated and maintained by existing employees, regardless of the team’s previous robotics or automation experience. By providing manufacturers with an easy way to automate the dirty, dangerous, dull and repetitive jobs, organisations can shift existing employees to new and more valuable roles, which increases employee satisfaction and builds morale and loyalty. Extensive automation can ease recruitment and retention by creating new technical roles with better pay, opportunities and working conditions.
Accessible and flexible
Unlike costly industrial robots, cobots are affordable, versatile and easy to integrate into work processes without the need for major renovations or costly installation projects. Cobots can make companies of any size – and in any location – competitive by providing the flexibility they need to compete, grow and profit in any economic climate. Collaborative automation equips organisations to easily to scale up or down, increase productivity in warehouses and expand into new markets more quickly.
Financial competitive advantage
In addition to labour shortages, today’s manufacturers face intense economic and political uncertainty. Adding to the complexity, today’s consumers increasingly demand higher quality products and real-time availability – at lower costs. These pressures make running a profitable production line more challenging than ever before.
Financially, collaborative automation has a direct impact on profits. Further, cobots play an important role in improving product quality by reducing human error commonly associated with dull, repetitive and dangerous tasks, ensuring consistency and accuracy, and enhancing the ability to create more complex goods – which satisfies customer demand for higher-quality goods at lower costs. At the same time, with the right configuration, a cobot can produce finished goods at a much faster rate than handcrafting or assembly lines.
An affordable option
Few would argue with the benefits of collaborative automation. A small and mid-sized manufacturer might have doubts to afford a solution with all the pressures facing in their factory and the looming economic uncertainty.
UR Financial Services offers a fast and low-risk model to maximise productivity, profitability and ROI without a significant cash outlay. Through a partnership with DLL, we offer flexible payment plans that accommodate cash flow, seasonal fluctuations and shifts in capacity, so you can focus on growing and running your business. This programme provides the ultimate financial flexibility.
Financially supported by Government in Singapore
Singapore companies especially SMEs who have a tight budget and cash flows can grow their businesses and solidify their foundations with the EDG grant in Singapore. The Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) supports companies’ usage of automation and technology which results in tangible benefits and significant growth.
While it is difficult to predict the future, it is plausible that this is just the start of the process for collaborative robots. In the long run, with a rapid increase in automation capabilities, cobots will become the powerful workhorses of the factory. This is the perfect time to deploy cobots in your industry and stay ahead of competitors
Article by Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots
Doosan Robotics Inc. is introducing six new collaborative robots (cobots), diversifying its innovative product offerings. The new lineup includes four models from the A-SERIES and two from the H-SERIES, adding to the company’s selection of innovative, future-proof cobots.
The A-SERIES, which has achieved the industry’s best speed and affordability, is comprised of four models, A0509, A0509s, A0912 and A0912s, and offers payload range of 5kg to 9kg. Each model features safety algorithms that protect workers, and meets the highest level of safety standards set by an accredited international testing & certification organisation TÜV SÜD. The equipped mountable force torque sensors enable the A-SERIES cobots to provide versatility required by many applications such as polishing and assembly.
The H-SERIES models offer 1.7m reach and up to 25kg payload, marking the heaviest payload among currently available cobots in the market. Comprised of two selections, H2017 and H2515, this high-power lineup weigh only 75 kg, only half of other comparable robots with the same payload. Equipped with six torque sensors on all six axes, the H-SERIES provides the dexterity and flexibility required in variety of applications, in particular logistics and automotive.
“The new A-SERIES and H-SERIES will set a new standard with distinctive advantages such as best-in-class speed, superior performance and outstanding price competitiveness,” said Sangchul Kwak, CEO of Doosan Robotics. “Doosan Robotics will lead the growth of the smart factory industry in the post-pandemic era and drive the momentum of new vertical markets in service, logistics and manufacturing.”
The Factory of 2035 will look vastly different than the factory of today. Ever since the first Industrial Revolution when mechanisation, water, and steam power started to automate work previously carried out manually, more work has been taken on by machines. Each technological advancement – from computers and robotics to the Internet – has brought about additional automation. Advancement in technologies will remain significant, but the trend of “human touch” will also be in demand in Factory of 2035.
People, machines and fear
Today, internet-enabled “Industry 4.0” – including the robots that form a growing part of its connected technologies – has given rise to new fears that technology is replacing human workers. Representing Industry 4.0 as they do, robots are also bearing the brunt of the latest “technology is replacing us” myths. People have misconceptions that automation technologies and robots threaten people’s livelihoods. Automation does not replace jobs, in fact, it creates new jobs.
According to a recent Harvard Business Review article on automated tasks, 20 percent and 80 percent of a given job can involve automatable tasks, but no jobs are 100 percent automatable. This means that even with all the advancements, robots will not replace humans entirely. The fact is that robots help to increase productivity and companies are in the position to employ more people. Hence, robots will create jobs instead of eliminating them.
A new type of factory
The promise of the latest industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, is not just complete factory automation. Manufacturers move towards “light out factory” setups where they can produce goods people demand quickly, with consistently high quality, at unprecedented low cost, and with little human intervention. However, when the ‘lights out factory’ has started to gain traction in actual manufacturing setups, different global consumer trend has emerged – The return of human touch in Industry 5.0.
Mass demand for the human touch, or what is often described as “mass personalisation,” will never be met by large scale lights-out type manufacturing nor by traditional craftspeople working in their own small shops. Today, people want to experience the human touch in mass-manufactured goods. The type of factory needed to produce such goods at a scale and cost that makes production economically feasible will depend on technology. It is not the technology operating without human involvement in a lights-out factory. It will be the technology that collaborates with workers and, where the human touch is involved, serves as a tool that enables the workers to contribute the value they add to the product.
A new type of worker
The workers who will be needed in these new setups are workers who have particular value to add to the product. They must have expertise in an area that is required to give the product the degree of human touch the market demands of it. They may practice a craft or use a discerning eye or other senses to assess work and make adjustments. They may have a special understanding of materials and manufacturing processes. They may be experts in the practice of creativity. What will not be needed are workers who spend their days performing boring, repetitive tasks, or dangerous work. Robots and other machinery can and will do this work better. The days of the old-school line worker will be over.
The factory job in 2035
In 2035, Industry 4.0 and lights-out factories will be a vital part of product manufacturing. The world needs millions of products that do not require any human touch in order to be valuable. There will also be many more Industry 5.0 factories in 2035, and these factories will employ workers, with uniquely human skills. Requiring uniquely human talents like creativity, artistry, materials and process understanding, discerning tastes, understanding of various customs, and complex judgement, these jobs will be nothing like the factory jobs we think of today. It will be jobs that defy the definition of work as “doing things I don’t like to do”, instead, people will love their jobs. These jobs and trends will help humanise labour and make the world a better place to work.
In the current global age, Industry 4.0 is a marriage of IT and manufacturing operations. We have seen the maturation of digital technologies in the manufacturing industry. The smart factories of 2035 will accommodate the new collaborative model. The collaboration between man and machines, in which robots do the strenuous and repetitive work while humans act as the “creative architects”. Human creativity and smart technologies will become a decisive force in 2035.
By: Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots
Three-dimensional energy chain ensures long service life and offers ergonomics in high-precision welding systems. Article by igus GmbH.
Whether in motor vehicle manufacturing or shipbuilding, in precision engineering or general industry, welding is one of the most important joining processes. To guarantee high-quality joints, the components installed in the welding systems must be durable, have a long service life and withstand the harsh manufacturing environment.
For the last 50 years, FPT Industrie S.p.A. has been manufacturing CNC milling and drilling machines for the general mechanical industry, tool and mould making, as well as for the aerospace industry. Customers can be found on the one hand in Italy, and on the other in the global market. Committed to technology, precision and reliability, FPT began to focus on machines for friction stir welding (FSW) more than a decade ago. The offer also includes its own 4.0 platform and a whole range of positioning and clamping tools.
High-strength and economical joints
The “StirRob” welding robot from FPT works with FSW technology and includes appropriate software and various accessories. A high-speed rotary cutter applies strong pressure during friction stir welding. It creates heat, which makes the two counter pieces malleable. Both materials are mixed in the process and brought into the plastic state. At the end of the process, the welded elements cannot be distinguished. The robot was created in a joint development project with Fanuc and enables the joining of materials such as aluminium, its alloys as well as copper, titanium and steel, which are normally difficult to weld together. In fact, the part on which the joining is done has metallurgical properties that are superior to those of the two raw materials and even withstands bending by 90 deg at the weld seam.
According to Fanuc, the automotive and aviation industries, in particular, benefit from this six-axis robot with FSW welding technology, whereby welding takes place without fumes or radiation. Furthermore, the process requires less energy than conventional welding, thereby reducing costs. The double measuring system integrated in the robot with encoders, which are located both on the motors and on the joints, ensures both the pressure required by the FSW and the desired precision.
Flexible solutions and fast delivery required
To adapt the high-precision, high-rigidity machine to the requirements of the FSW process, torsional energy chains are used on the robot. Here the choice fell on the three-dimensional triflex R energy chain from motion plastics specialist igus GmbH.
When choosing a supplier, Renzo Vezzaro, Senior Sales and Technical Engineer at FPT Industrie, attaches particular importance to product quality, flexible solutions and fast delivery.
“We have been working with igus for 25 years. They give us precise technical support and safe guarantees, which make life easier,” he says. The service life of the energy chain must last at least 20 years for a machine that is in use 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An ergonomic structure is also desirable for the operators in order to reduce the time required for the assembly and disassembly of the energy chains.
A study carried out in co-operation with Refa Consult shows the enhanced time savings through effective design of the energy supply chains and their accessories: the optimal design and structure of energy supply systems can save up to 60 percent of the time per work step and increase productivity.