Robot Alleviates Ergonomics Woes in Sheet Metal Industrial
The introduction of automation equipment has consistently been at the core of development in Industry 4.0 and intelligent manufacturing, providing an effective solution to the challenging issue of labor shortages by substituting machinery for manual labor.
Using robotic arms to replace human workers in environments with high repeatability and high risk significantly reduces the chances of occupational safety incidents. This is particularly relevant in traditional sheet metal processing plants with challenging working conditions, greatly enhancing the safety of operators and serving as a boon to employee health and occupational safety.
This year, the Thai subsidiary of the Syntec Group assisted an international sheet metal factory in Bangkok in implementing automated production equipment. The company faced a major challenge as its production scale continued to grow annually, yet it operated within the constraints of its existing facility size. This resulted in employees having to process a vast and diverse range of sheet materials in a space that was insufficiently utilized and poorly lit, using methods that were not ergonomic.
In response to this challenge, the Syntec x Leantec Thailand branch utilized the Leantec LRA-1717 Six-joint Robotic Arm equipped with sensors and peripheral feeding devices. This series of arms can easily pick up and place approximately 3.0 kg of sheet material in just 3 seconds, equivalent to the capability of four operators and can operate continuously throughout the day. This doubles processing efficiency and, more importantly, creates a safer and more friendly working environment.
To address this challenge innovatively, the Syntec Thailand team conceived an autonomous robot station capable of accurately picking up metal sheets and placing them on trays. Considering the need for versatility in handling different-sized sheets, a universal vacuum gripper for metal sheets was installed on the robotic arm, easily adjustable to accommodate various dimensions. Additionally, the Syntec Thailand team provided a customized user interface to make programming and controlling the robot user-friendly for operators.
Figure 1: Porters work in difficult and uncomfortable conditions
Figure 2: Introduction of robotic arms to reduce the handling work of four operators
In a significant move aimed at prioritizing employee health and safety, sheet metal industry players are embracing cutting-edge technology. Thanks to the recent factory upgrade initiative, not only has production efficiency doubled, but it also aligns with the energy-saving, carbon-reduction, and ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) benefits promoted vigorously by government policies in recent years. The upcoming article will delve into the advantages of carbon footprint reduction when employing robotic arms compared to human labor. Stay tuned for an in-depth exploration of this pivotal topic.