Robots carry out work in areas that would be unsafe for humans. Robots work in harzardous conditions where heat, pollution, radiation and other circumstances would have a negative impact on the health of humans. Please find examples below:
KUKA, Germany - IFR Partner
Extreme loads in extreme settings
Founded in 1951 and headquartered in Stadtallendorf/Germany, Fritz Winter Eisengießerei GmbH & Co. KG is a leading manufacturer of cast iron parts for the automotive industry. Around 2,000 tonnes of castings are supplied daily - for brakes, chassis, engines and hydraulic systems. Customers include major manufacturers of cars, commercial vehicles, engines, transmissions, axles, hydraulic systems and heating systems. Work is primarily carried out on robot-assisted production lines. With its payload capacity of 1,000 kilograms, the KUKA KR 1000 titan ensures greater productivity in the core shop.
With around 3,200 employees at the Stadtallendorf location and annual sales of about EUR500 million, the family-owned company of Fritz Winter is the largest independent foundry in Europe. The most challenging process at Fritz Winter is the casting of engine blocks with a wall thickness of only three millimeters. This makes vehicles lighter, which saves fuel and helps protect the environment.
In the extreme foundry conditions, exceptionally heavy loads such as casting cores weighing several hundred kilos need to be moved as efficiently, safely and precisely as possible - a task of almost unmanageable proportions for human workers. For this reason, it was decided to automate the washing process at Fritz Winter Eisengießerei GmbH & Co. KG with KUKA robots. The use of robots improves ergonomics and reduces the strain on the worker, while increasing the process quality at the same time.
Speed was one of the decisive factors: "The decisive impetus for equipping Core Shop 14 with automation technology was without a doubt the expansion of our capacity. Even in three-shift operation, we were no longer able to produce the required quantities," explains Michael Kläs, Head of Production at Fritz Winter. The washing process automated using the KR 1000 titan enables the casting cores, which were previously transferred linearly, now to be moved in various directions. "A totally new kind of robotic automation for foundry environments has been created here," says Ralph Nitsche, Foundry expert at KUKA Roboter GmbH. The result: significant time savings and the safe and careful draining of the entire wash out of the cores.
While previously only a maximum of 120 core packages could be washed per shift using the linear handling system, today a KUKA KR 1000 titan robot picks up the 500 kg core packages from a conveyor tower and dips them smoothly into the coating bath. After dipping, the titan robot moves the core package in all three axis directions, one after the other, thereby guaranteeing optimal draining of the wash. For the subsequent drying process, the KUKA robot places the core package on a conveyor pallet. The packages are then moved fully automatically through a drying oven and are deposited after a short cooling phase in a high-bay storage unit. "Using a robot for a washing process in this high weight category is unique," explains Joachim Rotzinger, Managing Director of ROBOTEC Engineering GmbH from Bad Säckingen, whose team implemented the project for the foundry with a custom-tailored controller. The robotic application makes it possible to increase the production of core packages in the core shop to as many as 300 units per shift.
The great flexibility allows the operator to convert the system quickly to meet new challenges. The KR 1000 titan can adapt its gripper to the different core package sizes. It can also change its gripper quickly and easily - a range of grippers are available in a gripper rack.
The KR 1000 titan, which is even listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's strongest robot, is not only able to lift exceptionally heavy loads, but also to position them with utmost precision. It bridges distances of up to 6.5 meters with ease. Its strength lies in its compact design that optimally utilizes the workspace and allowed space-saving and cost-efficient integration into the system.
The operating software for the automated system is based on the familiar user interface employed at Fritz Winter, which makes it quick and easy for the workers to use.
"Anyone operating a foundry today can no longer dispense with robots," affirms Ralph Nitsche. "A key factor in the face of global competition is to increase the capacity of a core shop like the one at Fritz Winter. A robot system will always be cost-effective!"