Case Study: How cobots improve production efficiency in medical supplies industry

In short story

As the first step of single-station automation, ELITE suggested this medical device provider in China deploy a collaborative robot for the operation of dialysis equipment handling. Now 6kg cobot (EC66) with integrated flexible gripper jaws for soft robots replace manual handling. The investment of one cobot could be returned in 12 months.


The medical supplies industry has certain special characteristics compared to other industries. Driven by consumption upgrade, people are not only pursuing higher living quality, but also more concerned about their health. Hence the medical and pharmaceutical supplies field is seeing rapid development all over the world, which also stimulates the demand for automation.

01Background


The client is a leading manufacturer of blood purification equipment dedicated to the production of infusion devices, medical devices and consumables in China. Currently, the company has over 3,000 employees and sells products to more than 70 countries. Placing great emphasis on quality control and production efficiency, they have always been a forerunner of automation in the industry.

Despite 10+ years of automation experience, modification to production varies with increasing customized orders – from large-scale deployment of automation equipment to single-station automation, where many manual workstations on the production line are replaced. The engineering department therefore wants to get things done with equipment that could be quickly and easily deployed without changing the existing production line layout.

02Challenges

In addition, as the demand for medical products over the past two years surges, the production line has basically kept running at full capacity. Therefore, as the retrofit process goes, the production department wishes to introduce the equipment with the shortest possible downtime to ensure that the normal production may proceed as scheduled.

Under such circumstances, the customer and integrator considered to use collaborative robot for this task – as they are familiar with these products, the customer believed that compared with traditional industrial robots, cobots are more flexible, space-saving and easier to program. After on-site evaluation, Elite suggested the customer to first deploy a collaborative robot for the operation of dialysis equipment handling.

The dialysis equipment is made of precise components and the surface should not be damaged during handling. Given this, Elite recommended a 6kg cobot (EC66) with integrated flexible gripper jaws for soft robots to replace manual handling. This type of work may seem simple, but only a compact cobot can get it done in the limited space without changing the layout of the existing production line.

03Our Solution

It is worth mentioning that Elite cobots are programmed interactively by PC and teaching box. With the features of drag-and-drop teaching, the programming logic is quite simple.

As such, compared with traditional industrial robots, debugging requires only limited time. The field installation and commissioning can be done within 4 hours, and the robot is mounted on a table with rollers allowing the robot to be easily pushed to different work stations for fast task switch. As per the customer’s assessment, this initial set of application may replace one worker. Taking the salary of RMB 7,000 / month and 2 shifts a day as an example, the investment of one cobot may be returned in 12 months.


In the future, beyond handling tasks, the client plans to use cobots for one-to-many inspection applications.

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