Foundry gives vision to robotics
Machine vision and robot handling system investments at its Swiss foundry have allowed R. Nussbaum AG, a manufacturer of drinking water distribution systems, to achieve a range of benefits in a short time. The company's metal "core" production operation and intermediate batch storage process was a highly labor-intensive and costly procedure.
Machine vision and robot handling system investments at its Swiss foundry have allowed R. Nussbaum AG, a manufacturer of drinking water distribution systems, to achieve a range of benefits in a short time.
The company's metal 'core' production operation and intermediate batch storage process was a highly labor-intensive and costly procedure. Nussbaum wanted to improve production flexibility for small-to-large volume batches and attain clear process quality benefits to comply with ISO 9001/14001 certification requirements.
Nussbaum contacted Laempe GmbH to develop an automatic, machine-vision-controlled palletizing system comprising a robot cell for handling the 'core' boxes, a machine-vision system based on the Cognex In-Sight 4000 Vision Sensor, and the core transfer racks arranged in a circle.
In-Sight 4000 was selected for easy on-site installation, high-performance and reliable vision software, simple user interface, and a favorable price/performance ratio. It also dispensed with the need for a separate vision PC within the system. A built-in Ethernet interface integrates the Vision Sensor into the control and communication system of the robot cell.
In the new process, the metal 'cores' are first coated with a water-soluble emulsion and arranged on pallets in small batches. Upon leaving the 'core' oven, the robot places pallets under the Vision Sensor, which identifies the size and type of the dressed 'cores.' This ensures that the correct dressing process is selected for each batch of 'cores'—a particularly important step because of wide variations in dressing processes. Part identification and dressing process selection is then communicated to the robot to ensure that parts are processed in the correct manner.
Implementation of this robot-handling cell led to the elimination of defects and problems previously attributable to human error. The company's two-shift production process has become more reliable and consistent, and part throughput has gone up 40%. In addition, two people can operate a process that previously required seven—some with exposure to potentially unsafe, repetitive conditions. People who are no longer required to operate the 'core' dressing process are now better employed elsewhere in the factory. For more on vision, see www.controleng.com ; www.cognex.com .
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