Mobile and stationary robots to automate intra-factory logistics
MYL is a family-run company with 40 employees and premises of 1,500 m2 in the Basque Country, northern Spain. It has manufactured and repaired special machine tool spindles since 1969 and gained a firm international reputation with its state-of-the-art technology and engineering capabilities.
Due to high level of customization MYL has kept from fully automating its intra-factory logistics. Spindles are disassembled and assembled at 12 workstations, and each operator typically walks to an automated warehouse to collect components, such as small joints, ball screws and clamping tools.
The L4MS experiment offered an opportunity to find out how components weighing less than 12 kg could be automatically delivered to each work station.
Robots and the ERP system in cooperation
Another Basque SME, the intelligent automation solution provider LINQcase joined forces with MYL to improve logistics between the warehouse and workstations. They decided to replace manual logistics with two robots: an AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle) and a stationary collaborative robot arm.
In the solution, an operator orders the required components with a mobile computer at his workstation. The automated warehouse receives the order and gathers the components for the stationary collaborative robot to pick up. The stationary collaborative robot loads the components onto the AGV, and the AGV takes the load to the corresponding workstation.
“We connected both robots and the factory ERP system to the OPIL framework. This way all stock information is kept updated and all components are fully traceable,” says Javier Pérez, Service Director at LINQcase.
Productivity improvement of 26%
Before testing the solution, specialists at LINQcase used Visual Components to create a digital twin of the solution.
“It was really helpful to envision the solution before implementing it,” Javier Pérez says. The solution was then successfully tested on the factory floor.
Once fully implemented, the solution is estimated to
- cut downtime caused by intra-factory logistics from around 20% to almost 0%
- increase weekly assembly capacity from 15 spindles to 19 spindles
- result in overall productivity improvement of 26%
- ensure 100% traceability of components used in each assembly and repair process.
Fast design of a cost-effective solution
For LINQcase and CEIT, an R&D centre with experience in robot programming, the benefits lie in the versatility of the OPIL framework.
“The experiment offered us an opportunity to present a cost-effective logistics solution that we can easily reconfigure and scale to other clients faster than the competition,” Javier Pérez says. According to him, the versatility of the OPIL framework is based on the possibility to integrate hardware and software products from different vendors.
The cost of the project was €245,000 including work involved in design, development and testing, and equipment rents and consumables.
OPIL modules and other modules used in the MYL solution by LINQcase:
- OPIL Human Machine Interface: to program tasks and monitor robots and logistics processes
- OPIL Sensing and Perception and OPIL Task Planner modules to develop topology and routing paths for the AGV and to guide logistics
- 3D simulation tool Visual Components: to create a digital twin
Partners in the L4MS experiment:
- Factory: MYL, an SME manufacturing machine tool spindles
- Intelligent automation solutions provider: LINQcase
- Robotic software provider: Ceit