HWL, a Berlin-based, family-run thermal treatment company, uses the MIRAI vision system to automate a pick-and-place task.
HWL Löttechnik GmbH wanted to automate the unloading and loading of reflective metal rods. Among other complexities, variance in the position and appearance of the parts made automating this pick-and-place task very challenging, if not inconceivable, with conventional automation solutions.
Micropsi Industries worked with HWL to train a MIRAI-equipped robot to successfully perform the task, overcoming variance in position, form, lighting, and background. Since the solution was implemented, HWL has managed to optimize cycle times by 20%. The MIRAI vision system has helped the company reduce costs, relieve staff of tedious work, and establish itself as an innovative employer.
A MIRAI-guided UR robot picks metal rods despite variance in the position of the rods and the workpieces’ reflective surface.
The MIRAI-guided robot places the rods onto a large, circular, horizontal-facing rack with pegs. The position of the pegs can vary.
Like other small- and medium-sized enterprises, HWL Löttechnik GmbH
faces labor shortages, an ongoing energy crisis, and intricate production processes, particularly in high-mix, low-volume manufacturing. To navigate these obstacles, HWL directs part of its investments towards the adoption of state-of-the-art technologies and optimization of operational processes.
For HWL, continuous innovation goes hand in hand with employee expertise and satisfaction. Recognizing the physically demanding and repetitive work involved in thermal treatment and the increased workload for staff due to labor shortages, Managing Director Kai Lembke identified a pick-and-place task that HWL would benefit from automating.
The task constitutes two parts. In one, a shiny metal rod — lying among about 50 others — is picked from a basket. In part two, that rod is brought to and inserted upright onto a large, circular, horizontal-facing rack covered with pegs. There are a number of reasons why this task is so hard to automate with conventional systems, which are unable to handle changing workspace situations; namely:
- The metal rods vary in their size and weight.
- Because they’re made of metal, the rods throw off reflections that standard visions systems can’t make sense of.
- During picking, the rods aren’t in predictable positions in the basket.
- During placing, the rack pegs aren’t in predictable positions.
In short, this task would usually call for human-like dexterity.
By automating processes with MIRAI, we can save costs, position ourselves as an innovative and modern company, and enhance the attractiveness of our workplace.
HWL Managing Director
An efficient, innovative company
Micropsi Industries worked with HWL to train a MIRAI-equipped robot from Universal Robots to successfully perform the task, overcoming variance in position, form, lighting, and background. Even changing lighting conditions and reflections on the surface of the workpieces do not affect the functionality and precision of the system.
Since the implementation of MIRAI, HWL employees have taken on the responsibility of managing and retraining the system, especially when faced with changing requirements or environmental modifications. "The fact that these adjustments can be made by our employees without the need for experienced programmers from the manufacturer is a significant advantage,” Lembke said. Since the solution was implemented, HWL has managed to optimize cycle times by 20%. “That's exactly the flexibility we need. By automating processes, we can save costs, position ourselves as a progressive and modern company, and enhance the attractiveness of our workplace."
Placing metal rods onto the rack pegs would be very challenging, if not inconceivable, with conventional automation solutions.
An HWL employee trains the MIRAI-equipped robot to perform a placing movement. The MIRAI system learns based on what you show it.
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