Robot Increases Productivity In Tire Plant
Thanks to the OMRON Mobile Robot - LD platform.
In February 2016, industrial mobile robots from OMRON were used in a well-known brand tire factory, for automatically transporting tires in the production process.
The manufacturer wanted to investigate whether the AIVs (Autonomous Intelligent Vehicles) can be linked to the plant‘s control software and used as a transport fleet to optimize the plant efficiency and reduce manufacturing costs.
To do this, two LD platform transport robots were first installed at a European site of the global brand. The primary task was to take base material from the preparation location to the process machinery and thus to improve working conditions for the employees. This monotonous and physically demanding work was typically done manually by the workers.
“The manufacturer came to us two years ago,“ says Fabien Benoteau, Application Engineer at Omron. “After a number of simulations in February 2015, two AIVs were used at the production site to test the navigation and, above all, the usability of this innovative technology. The automation process with mobile robots is to be extended to other production sites.“
Improved Working Conditions
The use of the mobile robots allows the manufacturer to automate the movement of heavy physical loads and to reduce the risk of injury. The innovative technology is having an effect on the productivity of the site. Mobile robots reduce traffic and loading times, freeing the workforce up for more valuable tasks.
Mobile Robots From OMRON: A Completely Autonomous Vehicle
In contrast to conventional AGVs (AGV = Automated Guided Vehicle), which require modifications to the existing infrastructure (embedded magnets, magnetic strips, laser sensors, etc.), AIVs do not involve any changes to the building infrastructure, are completely autonomous and are also easily integrated by the company‘s employees.
When the mobile robots were installed in the plant, we produced a 2D map of the site. The robots recognize all permanent elements such as walls, furniture, columns, conveyor belts, etc. We specified the interesting points, such as the starting points—loading the robot, and arrival points—the process machine for the tires, and the mobile robot is able to navigate itself. The AIVs are equipped with a horizontal safety laser and two vertical lasers, move autonomously and navigate around obstacles. To ensure that they can move around in an environment that is continuously changing, they also have a navigation system called Acuity. This allows the robots to navigate by the overhead lighting.”
Fabien Benoteau, Application Engineer
Rapid And Straightforward Implementation
“AIV robots have a unique navigation technique,“ explains the responsible engineer of the production site. “Previously, when AGVs were still linked to a specific route, we had to send them back to the manufacturer if we wanted to change the route, and replace the infrastructure on the floor. The AIV from Omron is able to calculate its route and its path in real time, and to navigate around obstacles. This means it continuously adapts to its environment andits different tasks.“ Commissioning the robots is also a very quick process. “That is a very important criterion!“, confirms a plants automation engineer. “Thanks to the engineers from Omron, the installation was completed in three days.
Saving Time And Increasing Productivity
As the robots move autonomously in their environment, the enterprise manager is able to manage the traffic flow of the AIV fleet and to assign them tasks via the interface with the plant software (material flow) (WMS/MES). “If the process machine is finished with a tire, it tells the first available robot to come and give it a new base to work on. We are increasing speed and productivity,“ explains the plants automation engineer.
In addition, the robots are constructed so that they work as a fleet. They can communicate with each other, so they can handle targets and tasks that they are assigned by the Enterprise Manager. After the successful test, more than ten AIVs will now be put into use at the production site and in the brand plants across the world.