Hawa wanted to expand its business while continuing to run its operations in Switzerland and so needed a way to improve productivity at its two facilities
With the ABB YuMi robot, Hawa automated a high repeatability task of joining parts of a stopper element used in its sliding fixtures. The robot also features a camera integrated on its arm that enables the YuMi to conduct quality inspections for Hawa.
Small parts assembly of stopper elements and quality inspection.
For Hawa Sliding Solutions, manufacturing sliding components for doors and walls isn’t just a business, but an opportunity to enhance the quality of living at home, in offices and commercial spaces. As its business grew, Hawa was looking for options to be able to retain its production in Switzerland and decided to take the automation route to boost its production.
Hawa looked to automate the assembly of stoppers for the sliding fixtures - a crucial yet monotonous task that involved putting two light-weight parts of a stopper element together to form a complete component. After some consideration, Hawa zeroed in on the dual-arm YuMi robot as the perfect solution for the simple assembly task. The robot uses its arms to grab two parts of the sliding fixture, places one on top of the other and screws them together to complete the component.
"We wanted to retain both of our productions sites in Switzerland and continue to grow", says Peter Möller, Division Manager of Operations & Logistics of Hawa Sliding Solutions. "For this reason, together with Alain Känel, sales engineer of robotics from ABB, we evaluated the areas of production where automation made sense - with the goal of increasing production output and releasing resources for growth."
With a payload of 500 grams in each arm, the dual-arm collaborative YuMi robot is best to handle small and light-weight parts. The YuMi built-in safety features mean that the robot can work closely alongside human workers without the need for safety fences and peripheral equipment; this makes the YuMi the right solution for small and medium-sized companies like Hawa. Weighing at just 38 kilograms, the YuMi can be moved around the factory floor and made to function within minutes, allowing companies like Hawa to automate a broad range of tasks without much investment.
“At the beginning the YuMi was certainly at the centre of attention, especially because we had otherwise not integrated any other robots, not even conventional single-armed industrial robots,” confesses Henri Schildknecht, team leader for tool manufacturing at Hawa manufacturing plant in Sirnach.
As one of the first mid-sized companies in Switzerland to introduce the dual-arm robot concept to production, Hawa decided to form its own automation team that would learn to program the robot on its own. While these employees were not specially trained in robot programming, they were able to pick it up quickly as the lead-through programming of the YuMi makes it easy to operate the robot. "Naturally we needed several iterative steps as well as “learning by doing” in order to enable the YuMi to handle the components prepared in the accidental orientation. But overall it did not require a great deal of effort," says Schildnecht.
Hawa also integrated cameras into the robot’s gripper arms to enable quality control of the assembled stopper components. The YuMi compares the completed components with saved reference images of correctly assembled elements. In the event of any deviation, the robot slides the part into a container placed on its left-hand side as possible rejections. The components that pass the quality check slide towards the right-hand side of the robot for further processing.
The company intends to use the YuMi robot to perform other tasks in the future. Thanks to the robot’s safety features, Hawa will test out applications where the robot can work with humans to enhance productivity and boost the company’s business.
"We are convinced that we can expand our market position with well thought-out automation solutions and that we will strengthen both our locations in Switzerland", concludes Möller. "The integration of the two-armed robot is an important step in this direction. We are pleased with our YuMi and see great value in it.”