Svedplan, part of the Licentia Group, is a fast emerging producer of flat pack furniture that has deployed a team of eight of the latest ABB robots. These advanced industrial robots will not only improve competitiveness but also reduce risk to manual handlers at the production unit. As a result, production for Svedplan has now increased by good 45 percent from a line that will pay back in less than three years.
Productivity improved by 45%
As one of Scandinavia’s budding producers of flat pack furniture, Svedplan, that turns over SEK 300 million (Euros 33.3 million) needed to improve processes to maintain competitiveness with low-cost production and reduce the risk to handlers in the packaging process. As demand and production grew, Svedplan knew that automation was the natural development in the production process. Robotic systems have been involved in loading and unloading production lines, together with automated processes for drilling holes. But ackaging the various components was still largely a slow and costly manual activity. To provide a solution, Svedplan turned to Teamster AB, a specialist in automated process technology, to create a concept that was flexible enough to handle a wide range of large products and allow for fast changes to the line. Teamster recommended automating half of the manual picking line, creating three stations with a total of eight ABB robots. As a member of ABB’s Partner Network, Teamster understood that ABB Robotics would be able to provide the best robots for the system. Three IRB 660 robots were used to feed parts directly from pallets to five IRB 4400 robots that pack the products into boxes.
The IRB 660 is a dedicated 4-axis palletiser, which combines a 3.15 metre reach with a 250 kg payload. Indeed, the IRB 660 has the versatility, reach and handling capacity to meet the demands of most palletizing applications. Well-balanced steel arms with double bearing joints, a torquestrut on axis 2 and rapid maneuverability makes the IRB 4400 perfectly matched for Svedplan’s needs, where speed, accuracy and flexibility are important. For economic operation, the drive train is optimized to give high torque with the lowest power consumption. The Euros 2,268,000 (£1.5m) investment has made a remarkable impact on the production line. As a result of the automated robotic system, production has increased by an impressive 45 percent with a return on investment estimated at just two to three years! Automated lines now prepare 10 to 15 boxes per hour, compared with six to10 boxes per hour on the manual lines. Payback is estimated at two years – three at most. The new technology is also vital for Svedplan future prosperity in the highly competitive furniture market. Workers are proud of the new robots.
Vision system software
To accompany the new robots, vision system software was installed. This enables products to be saved as ‘recipes’ in the system and changes to the product handling can be made efficiently. New products can be introduced quickly by entering the pack size with details of the new packaging position and station. Worker attitudes towards automation have also changed. Preben Ritter, MD of Svedplan, commented, “At first, workers were extremely wary of this new technology, but now they feel proud of it!” Svedplan assured workers that, far rom threatening their jobs, it was the best way of preserving employment in the face of global competition and significantly there have been no job losses as a result.
ABB (www.abb.com) is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 1,11,000 people. ABB is a leading supplier of industrial robots – also providing robot software, peripheral equipment, modular anufacturing cells and service for tasks such as welding, handling, assembly, painting and finishing, picking, packing, palletizing and machine tending. Key markets for the company include automotive, plastics, metal fabrication, foundry, electronics, machine tools, pharmaceutical and food and beverage industries. A strong solutions focus helps manufacturers improve productivity, product quality and worker safety. ABB has installed more than 160,000 robots worldwide.
ABB’s Robotics Centre in India is located in Bangalore, with service and sales offices in other locations include Pune, Faridabad, and Chennai. ABB serves Automotive and General Industry customers with products, solutions and services
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