Achieving Lights-Out Manufacturing with Industrial Robots

Kagan Pittman for Engineering.com:  Lights-out manufacturing is the ultimate achievement of advanced automation and industrial robotics is the key. HIROTEC AMERICA, a provider of weld assembly equipment for OEMs, is chasing that dream on the back of a robot that, frankly, looks like a sci-fi centaur.

Combining an OTTO 1500 self-driving vehicle with a pair of Yaskawa Motoman robotic arms, HIROTEC has begun an initiative to completely automate its facility by 2025, relegating its human workforce to higher-value positions requiring complex problem solving and attention to detail.

The robot combo has been tasked with automating a black oxide process, which involves dipping parts in various chemical baths in a precise sequence. Specific time delays are required between dips as parts become oxidized, resulting in a corrosion-resistant surface.

Previously, the process was done manually by whomever had the time to step away from their other tasks. Without a set operator, quality was inconsistent and the process had to be redone often. Obviously, this was detrimental to production efficiency and overall throughput.  Full Article:

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Thomas R. Cutler: Leading Manufacturing Journalist Worldwide

Thomas R. Cutler: Leading Manufacturing Journalist Worldwide

Cutler has authored more than 7000 articles for a wide range of manufacturing periodicals, industrial publications, and business journals including most of the leading monthly trade publications.