PD_Packaging Digest

Packaging Digest, Spring 2016

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24 BEST PRACTICES // SPRING 2016 www.PackagingDigest.com Collaborative robot provides custom automation Industrial manufacturer Standby Screw pairs a traditional industrial robot with a collaborative robot for automation cost benefits, as well as an effcient packaging process. Drew Rabkewych, Contributing Writer Manufacturers today strive to be more fexible, nimble and adaptable than ever before to stay competitive. Labor shortages, rising wages and increasing demand for personalized products present challenges to productivity and efciency. To combat these issues, many manufacturers—including Standby Screw—are turning to fexible automation. Founded 75 years ago, Standby Screw has, like many manufacturing companies, shifted from a traditional machine shop to a nimble, innovative organization, bringing the latest technologies to bear. Collaborative robots are an important competitive diferentiator that are making factories around the globe more agile and responsive to market demand. automation with collaborative robots Traditionally, customization was an obstacle to automation. As a custom parts manufacturer for outdoor power equipment and automotive industries, Standby Screw knew this precept to be all too true, as the thousands of custom parts we produce required humans to perform mundane, repetitive tasks. From packaging the custom parts into boxes for shipping to cleaning the parts prior to fnal packing, humans were used for projects that didn't require them to use cognition or reasoning. Furthermore, there are dozens of other jobs and tasks in our factories that desperately needed people. Collaborative robots, including Baxter from Rethink Robotics (http://pdlinks.com/Rethink), which is used on the Standby Screw factory foor, are changing the game when it comes to customization. Baxter is specifcally designed to perform in variable, real-world manufacturing environments typical of customized product lines. Because of its Robot Positioning System (RPS), Baxter can easily adjust to parts that are bumped slightly out of place, without the need to stop and reprogram. Further, the robot is so easy to train that any factory worker can conduct the training without any prior programming experience. At Standby Screw, Baxter works in tandem with a traditional caged industrial robot to clean and package worm shafts, the long, cylindrical gear used in self-propelled, walk behind lawnmowers. A traditional industrial robot from Yaskawa Motoman (http://pdlinks.com/YaskawaMotoman) feeds the parts to Baxter, who then uses both arms to move the parts into a slot and clean the machine oil of the part before placing it into one of two boxes. Meanwhile, another Baxter robot tends a milling machine by picking pivot rods designed for snow blowers out of a feeding unit and placing them into the machine that cuts a fat end on the rod. In these two instances, the combination of collaborative and industrial robot allows for an efcient, automated process, allowing human workers to focus on tasks that require greater cognitive skill. true collaboration yields better bottom-line results Baxter works directly on the factory foor alongside our employees, making it a truly collaborative relationship. As a result of unique force-sensing technology, Baxter is completely safe in this situation. Despite its ability to collaborate with humans, the robots can also be used overnight whenever needed to increase output. With this added production time factored in, Baxter allows our team to package exactly 169 parts per box and produce more than one million parts per year. Tis high-volume output gives us the freedom to maintain a competitive price point for our products and compete with manufacturers around the globe. By automating tasks with Baxter at Standby Screw, our employees take on more complex roles throughout the factory, saving the company at least 4,000 hours per year. Baxter allows us to stay nimble and increase consistency in manufacturing operations to better compete on a global stage. We now produce about 1,100 diferent parts that are used in cars, household appliances and lawn and garden products, and we ship approximately two million parts every week. Manufacturing has always been complex, but with the many variables present in today's marketplace, it is more imperative than ever that companies seek the most fexible, cost-efective solutions that enable automation in never before seen applications. Collaborative robots are one piece of the solution that are already bringing results to forward-thinking manufacturers, and this is a trend that will continue to gain momentum for years to come. Drew Rabkewych, sales manager at Standby Screw, has been with the company nearly 23 years. His favorite thing about working there is the fast- paced environment. "There is never a boring day at the offce," he says. "It is also very fun to see all the fnished products that have Standby parts in them." Author and sales manager at Standby Screw, Drew Rabkewych is happy with the results of a new partnership between collaborative robot Baxter (shown in photo) and the plant's traditional industrial packaging robot.

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