Good old fashioned reliability wins the day

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 1 June 2000




(2000), "Good old fashioned reliability wins the day", Industrial Robot, Vol. 27 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Good old fashioned reliability wins the day

Good old fashioned reliability wins the day

Keywords: Fanuc, Robotics

Technical performances combined with good old fashioned features like reliability were major factors in Fanuc Robotics winning some major robot orders with promises of more to come.

Metal Casting Ltd (MCL) of Worcester are one of the top UK suppliers of aluminium die-casting to the automotive industry, and works to exacting standards such as Ford Q1.

Nick Birks was the project manager in charge of a review of robot requirements to both automate die-casting machines currently manually unloaded and replace earlier generation robots used to unload die-casting machines.

When costs were compared, it was clear that this performance had been achieved without a cost premium. In fact the Fanuc prices for special foundry version of the robots were very competitive.

On this basis the first Fanuc M-710iW robots were ordered. These proved so productive when compared with earlier generation machines that the output levels that originally required three die-casting machines can now be achieved with two, a 33 per cent increase in productivity. This effectively increases the overall output and hence earning capacity of the factory.

Several factors contribute to this improved level of productivity. First there is "soft float" a software development specifically for die-casting and plastics injection moulding machines.

When the dies are open, the robot arm moves into the dies and opens the grippers. The ejectors then push the casting out of the die into the grippers. As the grippers receive the casting the robot arm "floats" in the opposite direction to the ejector force as the grippers close. Without float, the robot could either miss the casting and drop it or record an impact with grippers as an "overload" condition and go into emergency stop mode - without consequent loss of production.

The variable sensitivity of soft float allows the robot to properly grip the casting so that it is never dropped.

Once the casting is firmly held, the soft float is switched off and the rest of the unload cycle continues with high sensitivity collision detect switched on, this protects the robot throughout the rest of the cycle.

The robots supplied conform to IP67 which is the environmental standard usually specified for foundry robots.

Applications ranging from foundry handling to machine tool load/unload can all benefit from using the M-701iW robot, specifically designed by Fanuc Robotics for operating in harsh environments.

So far MCL have installed seven robots over a 12 month period. These have either replaced old generation robots or been used to automate machines previously manually unloaded. Performance to date leads Fanuc to look forward to similar order levels over the next 12 months.

Contact: Maurice Hanley, Fanuc Robotics (UK) Limited, Seven Stars Industrial Estate, Wheler Road, Coventry, CV3 4LB. Tel: +44 (0) 1203 639669; Fax: +44 (0) 1203 304333.

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