Thursday, August 2, 2018

News: ASD install "cobots" to boost productivity

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Rotherham-based lighting manufacturer ASD, is embracing Industry 4.0 technology and becoming more productive, recently installing two "cobots" (collaborative robots) onto its street lighting production line.

Based on Barbot Hall Industrial Estate, ASD has a reputation for innovation and quality and provides a range of products for domestic and commercial installations.

Rothbiz reported in May on cobots, which differ from conventional industrial robots in that they feature technology that allows them to operate safely alongside human workers in a shared area. They are capable of operating with limited force and speed and are equipped with force-sensing to enable them to stop when they come into contact with an operator.

ASD Lighting, which has been manufacturing in the UK from their 200,000 sq ft factory for almost 35 years, operates a fast and efficient manufacturing processes. In-house specialists and state of the art technology allows them to meet the ever-changing requirements of their customers, whilst offering industry leading services and delivery times.

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The installed cobot at ASD is capable of learning multiple tasks, so it can assist human beings. A collaborative robot is intended to compliment the human worker's capabilities, not take the place of a human worker.

Known as Robbie and Roberta, the two UR5 cobots have been installed by leading collaborative robot integrators Reeco Automation. Reeco, based in Wales, supply customers with solutions in automating systems using Human-Robot Collaboration (HRC/Cobots). They focus on providing the customer with an automated solution that will ultimately save them money and reduce production costs. They offer their customer's a solution of integrating collaborative robots with their existing factory equipment and employees.

Robbie and Roberta are now assisting the ASD team with three tasks; placing of the lenses and fixing the screws on the PCB boards and lenses of the popular street lights. These three tasks were highly repetitive and perfect for the implementation of automation.

With repetitive tasks, an increasing concern for manufacturers like ASD Lighting is Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and the integration of cobots significantly reduces the risk for workers. From day one, ASD didn't want these cobots to replace jobs, their sole purpose was to improve the jobs for their workers by reducing the labour-intensive tasks.

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Reece Sanderson, marketing administrator at ASD Lighting, said: "We wanted to increase productivity, reduce labour intensive tasks and reduce chances of RSI. That's why we've brought in Robbie and Roberta. No job losses have actually been made because we are actually making more street lights, so if anything, we are actually taking more staff on."

A spokesperson for Reeco Automation, added: "It's proven with factories that implement automation that they become more productive, therefore increasing jobs not removing them. This statement is very true within ASD Lighting, productivity has increased on the street lighting line, therefore more units are being produced everyday which has required additional staff to be employed further down the production line."

ASD Lighting website

Images: Reeco

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