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Adaptation, Business Continuity & Cobots: Quality Inspection
04. June 2020 / By Jim Lawton / 1 Comment
This is the second in a series of blog posts exploring the many ways in which cobots support adaptation and business continuity in uncertain times. Each post focuses on a popular application for UR cobots --from Quality Inspection to Welding-- as we explore how cobots enable flexible, future-proofed automation deployments.
By Jim Lawton, Vice President, Product and Applications Management.
Quality inspection processes can make the difference between successful production runs and expensive, labor-intensive failures. Products typically undergo cosmetic optical inspection, a metrology inspection step or both. In the medical sector, stringent quality control regulations are the norm whether you're making face masks, implants or medicines. But across all sectors and regulatory environments, manufacturers need to ensure consistency of product.
Today, with manufacturing in real need of flexible solutions, cobot-based quality control and inspection systems that can transition between different end products in very little time become very attractive –especially to manufacturers striving to meet the QC demands of high-mix, low-volume production runs. Easy to incorporate into existing production lines and a cinch to program, UR cobots are uniquely positioned to deliver results in fast-moving quality control environments. Able to shift from pick and place and handling roles to inspection tasks quickly, cobots are easily reconfigured to inspect new parts. This makes cobots the perfect technology for both future-proofing inspection processes and ensuring business continuity in difficult times.
This operational flexibility extends to human-robot collaboration too. If you need to ensure social distancing requirements at your manufacturing facility, for example, you could consider introducing cobots to your quality control lines. Human-robot teams will improve the accuracy of your QC operations, while freed up workers can be reassigned to more interesting tasks.
Watch UR cobots handle quality inspection tasks at Comprehensive Logistics, thyssenkrupp Bilstein, Koyo Electronics and Lear
Cobots can repeatably place a camera in the same spatial location for as many measurements and positions on as many work pieces as needed –all without optical recalibration. U.S.-based contract manufacturing specialists, Comprehensive Logistics used a UR10 cobot outfitted with a vision camera for engine inspection tasks. The deployment resulted in increased throughput and improved product quality. “Universal Robots provided us the opportunity to strongly position ourselves and deliver 100 percent quality,” said Mike O’ Keefe Value-added Assembly Superintendent at Comprehensive Logistics.
The accuracy and reliability of the measurements UR cobots provide is designed to both enhance statistical process control and help improve customer relationships. Indian automotive component manufacturer Craft and Technik Industries (CATI) deployed cobots for inspection and CNC machine tending applications, increasing production and reducing customer rejections to zero along the way. “The time has come for SMEs to automate – robots are no longer the prerogative of large-scale industries only,” said CATI’s CEO, Prashant Shantaram Umbrani.
CATI has reduced rejected part numbers to zero thanks to a UR10 cobot
The improved metrology control and measurement consistency made possible by UR's cobots can help you lower overall inspection costs while improving productivity. Japan's KOYO ELECTRONICS increased productivity by 31 per cent following the introduction of a UR3 for touchscreen testing. “Not only has our company been able to improve productivity by allocating resources to another production process, but the experience from implementing this robot has built confidence and high hopes for future development," explained Katsuhiko Nakatani, Deputy General Manager at Koyo Electronics’ Production Department.
A UR3 tests a touchscreen with a stylus, saving human workers from repetitive tasks and improving test quality at the same time.
Meanwhile, Ohio-based manufacturer thyssenkrupp Bilstein successfully deployed UR10s in an application inspecting automotive suspension parts. “When we did the gauge inspection before, we would check two parts every one or two hours to make sure we were still where we thought, but now we have 100 percent inspection,” said Doug McIe, Manufacturing Engineer at thyssenkrupp Bilstein. The cobot deployed in the final assembly is equipped with a vision camera and moves swiftly between inspection points to make sure that all components are in the right position and that the label is applied correctly and is readable. “Every single part that comes is checked and if it fails, the robot actually rejects it in the process,” explained McIe
A UR10 cobot dubbed ‘John Tyler’ - all of thyssenkrupp Bilstein’s cobots are named after former U.S. Presidents - performs inspection duties at thyssenkrupp Bilstein
New UR+ Application Kit for measurement inspection
UR cobots are proven technologies for quality inspection applications and success stories like these abound. With the launch of the new UR+ Application Kit platform, designed to help you streamline cobot deployments by providing proven software and hardware for the most popular cobot applications, we've made QC-related cobot deployments even easier with the addition of kits such as the Q-Span Workstation Kit. The Workstation is a flexible solution for QC measurement inspection developed by our partners at New Scale Robotics. The system's measurement resolution of 2.5 µm (0.0001 inches) enables manufacturers to improve precision, consistency, yield and quality in small-part measurement.
Designed for use with UR3e cobots, the Q-Span Workstation Kit is able to automatically pick small parts, measure multiple features on each, and decide where to place the parts based on any measured dimension (for example pass, fail, or sort into bins by dimension ranges).
Whether you're looking for a way to ensure business continuity or shifting production to new products with different inspection requirements, UR is ready help make your automated QC processes easier to deploy and more efficient than ever before.
Interested in finding out more about cobots in quality inspection roles and our full range of UR+ Application Kits? Talk to one of our experts here
Experienced in both start-up and Fortune 500 environments, Jim’s career has focused on building organizations that give manufacturers new and effective ways to capitalize on the intersection of technology and business performance. From early days in e-commerce market and supply chain optimization to supplier risk management, Jim has been on the leading edge of innovation that changes what world-class manufacturing looks like. Since 2013, Jim has focused on the opportunity for manufacturers to harness advanced automation and collaborative robots to transform their operations and how the world thinks about work. He joined Universal Robots in 2018 and today leads the product and applications management of the company’s advanced collaborative robots to manufacturers and distributors all over the world. Jim holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University, an MS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT and an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, where he was an inaugural Fellow in the MIT Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) program.