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Industrial Robots – An Energy Saving Device

A market-leading industrial robot manufacturer has unveiled a new training facility in the UK and is wowing customers with its concept for the light-weight future of robotics. Here we look at the recent development of KUKA Robotics UK Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of KUKA Roboter GmbH, Europe’s largest manufacturer of industrial robots with an annual turnover of €1.9bn.

In 1973, exactly 40 years ago, German manufacturer KUKA introduced the FAMULUS industrial robot in response to a direct request by the automotive industry which was looking for powerful, reliable and repeatable solutions to its requirements for various handling and manipulation processes.

Over 40 years, the rate of product development by the company means that today it has a large range of robots specifically designed for use in the foundry sector. This product development has allowed advances in technology to ensure that robots are simple to operate and, equally importantly, are a cost efficient solution for the foundry industry. Industrial robots can also perform a variety of tasks that more basic traditional automation solutions cannot be considered for.

Energy saving options
A range of robots has been modified for use in the foundry industry in heavy duty environments, to be dust proof and heat resistant where appropriate. Payloads from 5kg up to 1300kg are available.

The recent KR C4 controller and Quantec range of robots were initially developed to satisfy the specific needs of the automotive industry for the manufacture of vehicles, and are therefore robust devices, specifically designed for 24-hour production operation seven days a week.

The Quantec range of robots - with payloads from 90kg up to 300kg - is significantly more compact than previous models, with a space saving of 25%; meaning that production lines can be designed to be more compact. Increased robot density has a significant impact in relation to the overall size of a facility, and allows the end user to save floor space and associated energy heating and lighting a smaller building.
The latest range of Quantec robots are 12% lighter, which allows the energy saving theme to be continued by ensuring that less power is consumed to move the robot.

As a further benefit of the weight saving, the robots can move faster than previously if required, and again, this can have a significantly advantageous effect on the number of robots required in complex tasks. Increases in speed of 25% can be achieved by the Quantec range of robots over the old KUKA model it replaces.

With the weight savings and additional technology developed jointly between KUKA, Daimler and Siemens, KUKA robots can now save around 30% in energy costs in production and standby modes.

Combining operations
Six axis industrial robots are available for holding and transferring parts in core assembly, shakeout, fettling and machining, palletising and metal dosing areas. Their use has proven to be extremely flexible in operating in dirty, repetitive and dangerous areas, enabling operators to be redeployed to other duties.

The use of an industrial robot means that it’s possible to combine primary and secondary operations bringing operational benefits to any facility. The reduction of non-value added operations can reduce work in progress. Combining processes also means that floor space can be reduced, again bringing commercial benefits to production facilities.

A helping hand to bring employees up to speed
KUKA Robotics UK Ltd moved to its current Wednesbury facility late in 2011 where sales and customer support are centered. A new training facility was installed between May and September 2013. Six training cells running identical KR16 robots, with a further two cells capable of housing smaller robots or linear units, offer customers an opportunity to experience a unique range of bespoke training. Up to 16 candidates can now undergo training at once. 

Jeff Nowill, managing director of KUKA UK, said: “August was an auspicious time for us with three courses – KR C2, KR C4 and KUKA SimPro – taking place simultaneously, all conducted by qualified KUKA UK trainers. Demand for these courses is definitely increasing. Our aim is to become the first choice for KUKA robot training in Europe.”

The future’s light
KUKA is looking to the future with the development of the revolutionary (in performance and looks!) Light Weight Robot. The LBR range opens up new areas of application for safe interaction with humans that were hitherto off limits for robots. 

The LBR’s 7 axes enable flexibility and accessibility not previously possible in industrial applications.

LBR technology has been used in industrial series production since 2009. At automotive manufacturer Daimler, it is used for assembly of the rear-axle transmission – a demanding assembly task that requires utmost precision, and a sensitive but powerful touch. Already, over 500,000 units have been assembled by KUKA Light Weight Robots.

Contact: KUKA Robotics UK Ltd, Great Western Street, Wednesbury, WS10 7LL UK. Tel: +44 (0) 121 505 9970, email: ianwalker@kuka-robotics.co.uk

About KUKA Robotics
KUKA Roboter GmbH, Augsburg, is a member of the KUKA Aktiengesellschaft and ranks among the world’s leading suppliers of industrial robots. Core competencies are development, production and sale of industrial robots, controllers and software. The company is the market leader in Germany and Europe and number three in the world. KUKA Robot Group employs about 3,180 people worldwide*. In 2012, sales totaled €742.6 million*. 

25 subsidiaries provide a presence in the major markets of Europe, America and Asia. 

*preliminary figures (Feb 2013)