The precision electronic processing enterprise located in South China was established in 2010, mainly producing laptop computer parts. The company’s leading products are laptop computer shell molding and other businesses, providing OEM for well-known 3C electronic brands, such as Huawei, Xiaomi, DELL and other notebook and tablet devices. Like most 3C electronics manufacturers, the company has been experimenting with automation upgrades, introducing new production equipment to replace humans or traditional industrial robots. On the one hand, the company is sensitive to cost and hopes to achieve a return on investment cycle of not more than 18 months.
Since 2019, the company’s automation transformation has focused on some flexible workstations — the production line is facing the challenge of small batches and multiple varieties due to the increasing degree of customization at the consumer end. Even though the main workpieces they process are for only laptop and tablet computers, there are many models of 3C electronic products of the same brand and series, so the production line often needs to change the production batch. Some of the stations had to keep human workers because of the flexibility of manual operation and the ability to meet order requirements with as little change in the layout of existing production lines as possible.
The collaborative robot introduced on this production line is mainly engaged in the processing and assembly of the laptop plastic case. The procedures are as follows:
1. Positioning of laptop plastic case gluer
2. Putting the metal parts in the gluing position
3. The robotic arm taking the laptop plastic and sending it to No. 1 or No. 2 hot melt machine
4. The metal binds to the plastic shell at a temperature of 80 degrees
5. The robotic arm taking the processed laptop plastic from No. 1 or No. 2 hot melt machine
6. The robotic arm putting the materials and parts into No. 3 machine, pressing and cooling them for shaping
7. The robotic arm taking the finished part down to the assembly line
Finally, the customer deployed ELITE EC66 (6kg) load collaborative robot to carry out 1-3 loading and unloading applications in the hot melt machine process. By using 1 collaborative robot to correspond to 3 devices, the original feeding station and hot melt machine were combined, equivalent to reducing two human workers. In addition to improving the production efficiency, reducing the waiting time, it also relieve difficult recruitment problems the factory faces – hot melt machine runs at a high temperature, the injury rate was reduced after the substitution with robot; the relatively low-value-added mechanical work done by robots is more economical than that done by humans.
The ELITE EC66 collaborative robot has a small base and takes little space. Users do not need to import an entire automated workstation, but can deploy the robot using a simple desktop installation. In addition, the drag-and-record instruction function of the collaborative robot reduces the programming time, which can be put into production in 2 days. The simple programming feature is convenient for users to change the installation position of the robot and quickly make adjustments after evaluation.
The return on investment cycle of this project is about 8-12 months. After receiving the benefits of collaborative robots and running steadily for some time, our customer has more confidence in the use of collaborative robots. Currently, No. 1 and No. 2 hot melt machines have a long operation period which runs for 60 seconds. Therefore, the factory is considering more boldly and plans to try the one-to-four option next to further improve the production efficiency.
Not Having to Be Super Competent
With only one collaborative robot, manufacturing processes can be more creative!
In terms of how to make the best use of collaborative robot, there are so many different answers.