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Flex­i­ble Robot cell for force-con­trolled assem­bly of gearboxes

PRIMUS PRÄZI­SION­STECH­NIK: Soft­ware as key to success

THE CHAL­LENGE

Sys­tem sup­plier for effi­cient drive solutions 

Primus Präzi­sion­stech­nik employs 110 peo­ple who develop and man­u­fac­ture spe­cial gear units with power rat­ings of up to 100 watts for cus­tomers in the auto­mo­tive sec­tor, build­ing automa­tion and med­ical technology. 

With the aim of main­tain­ing a high level of repeata­bil­ity and process sta­bil­ity, even for large vol­umes, the com­pany is automat­ing and dig­i­tiz­ing as many processes as possible.
This is the case with a force-con­trolled pick-and-place and join­ing process in which small gear­boxes are pro­duced from sev­eral indi­vid­ual parts for a cus­tomer in the auto­mo­tive indus­try: The task here is to fit three shafts and five gears into a gear­box hous­ing. Before place­ment, the indi­vid­ual parts are also greased. Approx­i­mately 250,000 of these gear­boxes are man­u­fac­tured by Primus each year – until now manually. 

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THE APPLI­CA­TION

Force-con­trolled join­ing process

“This is a com­plex appli­ca­tion with many process steps and dif­fer­ent com­po­nents that need to be assem­bled into a gear motor, which is later sealed air­tight,” Man­ag­ing Direc­tor Thorsten Völz tells us. “It is there­fore vital that all com­po­nents are assem­bled com­pletely and cor­rectly. And this is where, unfor­tu­nately, peo­ple are some­times the weak­est link.” To improve prod­uct qual­ity and process sta­bil­ity and reduce costs through bet­ter dos­ing of the grease, Primus decided to auto­mate this pro­duc­tion step robotically. 

“Our con­cern with automa­tion was not about opti­miz­ing cycle times, but about increas­ing process accu­racy and achiev­ing sta­ble repeata­bil­ity. Since we wanted to remain flex­i­ble in terms of imple­men­ta­tion and hard­ware selec­tion, we decided to start on a green­field site and tackle our first robotic cell in-house, although we still lacked pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence in robotics,” Völz sums up.

ArtiMinds-Robotics-Mann-und-Hummel-robotergestütztes-Bin-Picking

WHY ARTIMINDS?

“ArtiMinds’ soft­ware solu­tion was a major build­ing block in real­iz­ing our require­ments. In a clas­si­cally pro­grammed envi­ron­ment, we would have needed sig­nif­i­cantly more test cycles and a sig­nif­i­cantly longer devel­op­ment period.” 

THORSTEN VÖLZ
Man­ag­ing Direc­tor at Primus Präzisionstechnik

Free Robotics White Paper:

That is how Automa­tion Works!

2022_02_Whitepaper-Stolpersteine-500x333_en

THE SOLU­TION

ArtiMinds-Robotics-Entgrat-Anwendung
ArtiMinds-Robotics-Entgrat-Anwendung
ArtiMinds-Robotics-Entgrat-Anwendung

The soft­ware solu­tion from ArtiMinds is the key 

Using sen­sor tech­nol­ogy, the team taught the robot to see and feel and equipped the cell with a cam­era and a force-torque sen­sor. An indi­vid­ual grip­per sys­tem was added to han­dle the gears and shafts. The key to the smooth inter­ac­tion of all parts was the man­u­fac­turer-inde­pen­dent soft­ware solu­tion ArtiMinds Robot Pro­gram­ming Suite (RPS). “We were look­ing for a pro­gram­ming envi­ron­ment so that we wouldn’t have to touch the source code directly,” says Völz. “In the process, the RPS acted as an inter­face that cou­ples all the periph­er­als together.” 

Tech­ni­cal Man­ager Sascha Schwier explains: “For the process to run robustly, the sys­tem must be able to com­pen­sate for tol­er­ances inde­pen­dently. The only way to achieve this is through intel­li­gent com­mu­ni­ca­tion between the com­po­nents. We have prac­ti­cally built our spe­cial machine, yet we can still use it flex­i­bly thanks to the algo­rithms of ArtiMinds RPS.”

Primus was par­tic­u­larly impressed by the clear and intu­itive pro­gram­ming with the soft­ware. “ArtiMinds RPS offers many help­ful func­tions that make work eas­ier, such as the 3D sim­u­la­tion envi­ron­ment or the abil­ity to switch back and forth between online and offline mode depend­ing on require­ments,” lists Michael Castien, Robot Pro­gram­mer at Primus Präzi­sion­stech­nik. “The very big advan­tage is that I can use a sin­gle plat­form to har­mo­niously inte­grate and con­trol all com­po­nents and sen­sors such as robots, cam­eras, force-torque sen­sors, grip­pers and motors in the process. The RPS sim­pli­fies this step and pro­vides a uni­form pro­gram­ming structure.”

Analy­sis, opti­miza­tion and remote main­te­nance with ArtiMinds LAR

To keep an eye on the plant dur­ing oper­a­tion, Primus uses ArtiMinds Learn­ing & Ana­lyt­ics for Robots (LAR) analy­sis soft­ware. On one hand, Primus uses this tool for process mon­i­tor­ing and fault detec­tion or analy­sis, on the other hand also to con­vert process sta­bil­ity into key fig­ures. “ArtiMinds LAR enables us to take a tar­geted approach to process opti­miza­tion and trou­bleshoot­ing,” says Schwier. “This elim­i­nates the need for fish­ing in the dark.” Castien also sees this as a major advan­tage: “There is always a kind of demon­stra­tion effect when trou­bleshoot­ing. Once you are stand­ing in front of the sys­tem, the error no longer occurs. With LAR, I can auto­mat­i­cally record all the data and, thanks to the seam­less doc­u­men­ta­tion, iso­late errors within a short time.” In addi­tion, opti­miza­tion poten­tial that would not be vis­i­ble to the naked eye can be eas­ily objec­ti­fied. Castien explains, “We have two robots with the same pro­gram. The analy­sis data from the LAR showed that there are still dif­fer­ences, though, and con­trary to our assump­tion, the two sys­tems don’t run the same.” Using this data, Castien was able to read­just the pre­ci­sion to within 100ths and, after a few runs, re-eval­u­ate whether or not the changes had the desired pos­i­tive effect. 

Suc­cess all along the line 

With the soft­ware solu­tions from ArtiMinds, Primus Präzi­sion­stech­nik was in a posi­tion to imple­ment that flex­i­ble robotic cell that the com­pany needed for the fully auto­mated assem­bly of the small gear­boxes. “We achieved our goal and were able to increase the process qual­ity from about 90 to almost 100 per cent,” Völz states with sat­is­fac­tion. “Fur­ther­more, the sys­tem gives us high flex­i­bil­ity since we can adapt it to new tasks or changed con­di­tions with­out much effort, i.e. repro­gram it inde­pen­dently. In addi­tion, the robotics know-how built up as part of the project pro­vides us with a major com­pet­i­tive advantage!” 

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„Thanks to the coop­er­a­tion with ArtiMinds at an equal level, we have worked out solu­tions and ways for every chal­lenge in part­ner­ship. And we still have inten­sive exchanges, for exam­ple, to extend the prepa­ra­tion of LAR’s analy­sis data to our needs, as we are cur­rently doing.”

Michael Castien, Robot Pro­gram­mer at Primus Präzisionstechnik

Take Aways of the force-con­trolled join­ing process:

  • ArtiMinds RPS offers many help­ful func­tions that make work eas­ier, such as the 3D sim­u­la­tion envi­ron­ment or the abil­ity to switch back and forth between online and offline mode depend­ing on requirements.
  • ArtiMinds RPS acts as an inter­face to har­mo­niously inte­grate and con­trol all com­po­nents and sen­sors such as robots, cam­era, force-torque sen­sor, grip­per and motors into the process with a sin­gle plat­form, while pro­vid­ing a uni­form pro­gram­ming structure.
  • Pre­de­fined func­tion blocks for force-con­trolled search­ing and join­ing reduce pro­gram­ming effort.
  • Tar­geted process opti­miza­tion and trou­bleshoot­ing based on auto­mat­i­cally col­lected sen­sor data using ArtiMinds LAR.
  • Thanks to ArtiMinds’ soft­ware solu­tions, Primus was able to imple­ment an indi­vid­ual flex­i­ble robot cell for the fully auto­mated assem­bly of the small gear­boxes, even with­out robotics expe­ri­ence, and to gain a com­pet­i­tive advan­tage with the robotics know-how thus built up.
ArtiMinds-Robotics-Entgrat-Anwendung
ArtiMinds-Robotics-Entgrat-Anwendung
ArtiMinds-Robotics-Entgrat-Anwendung

Free Robotics White paper

“THIS IS HOW AUTOMA­TION WORKS”
Robotics for your Company: :
Oppor­tu­ni­ties – Obsta­cles & Stum­bling Blocks – Solutions

Robots have already found their way into larger com­pa­nies some years ago. But small and medium-sized enter­prises (SMEs) have also dis­cov­ered robotics for them­selves and rec­og­nized the advan­tages that robot-based automa­tion can have for them. And large cor­po­ra­tions are increas­ingly work­ing on open­ing up new fields of appli­ca­tion and to inte­grate robotics into more man­u­fac­tur­ing steps.
At first glance, objec­tions of an entry into robotics are the expected high costs, a lack of know-how in the com­pany and an unpre­dictable level of com­plex­ity. Oth­ers are too euphoric and rush ahead with­out a con­crete plan, only to stum­ble over pit­falls they had not pre­vi­ously considered.

To help you to avoid typ­i­cal pit­falls when using robots, we high­light the Top 5 under­es­ti­mated chal­lenges and stum­bling blocks when get­ting started in robotics and pro­vide you with help­ful tips, e.g. for the selec­tion of suit­able hard­ware and soft­ware, in the form of inter­ac­tive checklists.

In the white paper you will find answers to the fol­low­ing questions:

  • What ben­e­fits do robots offer your company?
  • What are the top 5 under­es­ti­mated stum­bling blocks when enter­ing robotics?
  • How can you avoid these pitfalls?
  • Which are the appro­pri­ate com­po­nents and tools?

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The non-bind­ing free online demo is the per­fect way to get a first impres­sion of the soft­ware, the appli­ca­tion port­fo­lio and if it suits your needs.

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