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Economical, flexible robot found after 10 year search

Economical, flexible robot found after 10 year search
In the absence of a viable automated alternative, Danish engineering company Linatex had, for more than a decade, continued to use manual labour to feed parts into a CNC turning centre. The company avoided robots because they were not only too expensive for its needs but also inflexible as the systems required dedicated and specialist support to convert them to other tasks.  

The recent introduction of the Universal Robot into the production process however has not only changed the company's perception of robots but has also allowed better use of manpower and significantly increased production capacity. Its ability to serve a variety of automation tasks is particularly important to Linatex as the company provides a specialised manufacturing service that involves small production runs.

Linatex is based in Herlev and processes engineering plastics and rubber for a wide range of industrial sectors. Its products are found in everything from artificial hips to aeroplanes and wind turbines. "The operator used to feed parts piecemeal into the CNC turning centre, wait for the machine to complete its cycle, then remove the part," explains Kenneth Midjord from Linatex. "Now the machine can operate unattended until the store of plastic parts is empty. The robot really is a helping hand."

The Universal Robot specified is a six-axis robot arm with a working radius of 85cm. It weighs just 17.5kg and has a load capacity of 5kg. It comes complete with easy-to-use, fully programmable touch screen interface. This simple and highly flexible robot system is now available in the UK from sole UK distributor, RA Rodriguez.

The Linatex robot is mainly used on relatively large production runs of 10,000 pieces. It is used to load and unload the machine and the company has plans to extend its use for batches down to 50 items in size. "To use it on other tasks is simple. Our employees can program it themselves with a little training," explains Product Manager Jorn Trustrup.

The system basically comprises an arm and a touchscreen that displays full and easy-to-follow instructions on how to programme the robot. It is even possible to take hold of the robot arm to teach the required movement. High resolution encoders on the motors and gearboxes continuously record the robot's position in relation to the programme.

Trustrup continues: "It is an advanced robot, yet extremely simple. It can be easily moved around the plant to do different jobs. Comparatively noiseless, its energy consumption is also low. And although some employees were initially nervous of the new tool, its user-friendliness quickly softened their scepticism."

Although the Universal Robot has only been installed for a short time Linatex is confident that it will reap financial reward from its investment. Trustrup concludes: "It may even have paid for itself after just four months."
 

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