Kitting, assembly and part delivery in the automotive sector
In TOFAS, two case studies are being investigated:
Regarding the kitting and assembly process, currently TOFAS operates with 120 kitting areas where skilled workers prepare kits of products and assemble them.
At the assembly workstations, the kits consist of products with varying geometries, materials, and dimensions. The workers manually proceed to assemble the parts, primarily utilizing insertion and screwing techniques.
Regarding the part delivery operations, TOFAS handles the preparation of spare part deliveries for their dealers. Operators receive a list of parts that need to be retrieved from the warehouse to fulfill multiple orders for different dealers, pick the required elements and places them inside a large box. Then, in the preparation area, other operators are in charge of sorting those products by picking them up, identifying them and placing them in the corresponding box.
With HARTU’s technologies, kitting, assembly and part delivery processes could improve in productivity, reduce errors, and meet the high standards expected by the automotive industry.
Handling capabilities as enabler of mass customization in the consumer goods sector
The Philips factory operates assembly lines consisting of several robotic cells, each with one or several dedicated functions, that collectively shape the assembly process.
The fully automated shaver assembly lines at Philips in Drachten are state of the art from an automation perspective, run fast and have high efficiencies. Although the assembly line consists of flexible robots in modular assembly line concept, all solutions to overcome process stability challenges drastically reduce the flexibility of the line. For instance, the sequence of production steps cannot vary and the geometrical differences between the parts assembled can only be minor. As a result, the current production lines are developed to produce 1 to 3 different but very similar variants of the same type of product.
The initially proposed use cases are the pop-up trimmer and the drive train. Both products present a wide variation in part geometry and assembly sequence. Some parts are easier to handle while others are both complex to grasp and require complex handling for placement.
HARTU’s technologies could help going towards the current trends of mass customisation, where the standard ad-hoc programming of manipulation tasks it is impractical.
Packaging operations in food sector
The pilot will be organized in Italy in the context of fresh vegetables packing process.
Currently, all the products arrive directly to the processing area from the field in different size boxes and bins where it has just been harvested. The aim of the process is to sort the product coming from the fields (for dimension, quality, defects) and box it homogenously to meet market needs. The selection and manipulation of product is done by people operating on an industrial line (different for type of product).
This is a repetitive work where the products are handled and transferred piece by piece from the line into the packing boxes. This is costly and can lead to unhealthy working conditions and, above all, possible hygienic problems.
HARTU’s technologies will have to be able to recognise the different types of vegetables, understand whether they meet quality standards in terms of size and shape, and pick and place them without damaging them. Studies on coexistence with humans will be included.
Fixtureless assembly in hand tool manufacturing sector
INFAR, a hand tool manufacturer located in Taiwan, produces almost 25M wrenches, ratchet handles, and various types of accessories per year.
During manufacturing process, the most critical procedure is part assembly for completing an entire hand tool no matter a wrench or a ratchet handle.
At the moment, most assembly tasks are performed manually by human workers. They prepare components required for assembling a hand tool, apply glue on the inner perimeter of the ratchet by hand, start assembling components inside the ratchet and, finally, complete the assembly process in order to have the finished product.
HARTU technologies will facilitate automation, which is a big challenge due to the need for hand tool specific fixtures, dexterity and accurate motion planning.
Order preparation in logistics
ULMA is a technology provider of logistics solutions. In logistics, the manipulation of individual items for order preparation is still a challenge, and it is addressed by manual operations due to multiple reasons.
One of the primary reasons is the vast number of different references that need to be handled, making it infeasible to program each individual part. Additionally, the absence of ‘universal’ grasping tools capable of handling such a wide range of products further complicates the automation of this process.
Another factor is the relatively small number of items per order, making it less efficient to invest in complex automation solutions. Moreover, the variability in product characteristics, including sizes, geometries, materials, and flexibility, poses additional challenges for automation.
Despite these obstacles, the demand for high efficiency in logistics operations remains significant. Therefore, ULMA strives to find innovative solutions such as HARTU to address these challenges and optimize the order preparation process.