In the last few months, the term Industry 4.0 is very much used. This, among other things, is very much related to the automation of production, which is being handled by the application engineer Marek Návara in the new Technology Center.
Mark, Industry 4.0 is still an abstract concept for a large group of people. What do you personally perceive under this term?
For me Industry 4.0 represents a fully autonomous production. My dream is to create a production hall that you can control from one room without the human leg stepping in.
In order to achieve this vision, we need to work on multiple fronts. We cannot do without machine automation, automatic quality control, and automated logistics.
Another part is to connect all devices to the central network to have central access to all important data including production parameters, production status and quality results. The last part of this solution must be the brain – software for central management of the whole production. You specify how much and what you want to produce and then you just wait for the truck to be filled with finished products.
It is a vision. But we are approaching it slowly.
And to what extent will your ideas about Industry 4.0 be materialized in our Technology Center. Will the visitors of the Technology Center be able to “touch” the Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0, of course, is still developing and we are just in the beginning on the road to the vision I outlined. However, I dare say that we can already show the customer what direction automation will take in the future in fulfilling this concept.
In our Technology Center, the KM 451 GX machine will be completed by automation with the ABB IRB 4600 robot. For a simple “Pick and Place” application, we will show the connection to the machine and its fast operation. In addition, this compact cell will be ready for the future adding necessary peripherals depending on the mould type – for example, for loading inserts or for optical inspection of output products.
You mentioned quality control. Recently, there has been pressure for it to be carried out completely automatically with minimal error rates and at the same time directly in production halls where it is often struggling with the dusty environment. Do we know this solution too?
Yes, we can do this too. And it will be seen at the Technology Center. On the KM 161 PX electric machine with RocTool technology, we will check the glossy surface quality with the SensoPart optical camera.
The robot, which will take out the mouldings before their putting onto the conveyor, will pass through an optical inspection that will evaluate the quality, and stop the workplace in the event of the so-called “reject”, and give the signal to the operator to check the workplace.
But that is not the only quality check we will have here. In the next room designed for the presentation of measuring instruments and systems we will have a unit, the main element of which will be the ABB IRB 1600 six-axis robot, which will operate the Metrios optical measuring system autonomously. The robot will insert the required production part into the machine, wait for measurement results, and put the part in good or defective pieces. Everything works separately using the signals between the robot and the Metrios measuring station. Also this system is appropriate directly for dusty production premises.
And for whom does such automation pay off?
We should realize that this type of automation brings many benefits to production. When I begin with the fact that the most important thing for the man is health, it is safety because it limits the contact of people and machines. But there are also other economic and operational benefits – with automation, the production line throughput becomes higher and thus the line is faster, repeatable measurements and even the use of downtime on the line to other robot operations can occur, such as operating the automatic cleaning unit before the measurement. And all this during a nonstop load, because the robot never gets tired. So, I dare say that return on investment comes in roughly one year with three-shift operation.
Installation of such a robot will of course also pay for production where it is necessary to handle hot, heavy or otherwise demanding parts.
What those interested in such an automated cell would do?
Surely contact us and visit our Technology Center where we will introduce everything to them.
The automation of Sepro robots will be reported in one of the other articles.