Moving from manual labour to collaborative automation frees up operators for creative work
The number of potential uses for collaborative robots (cobots) in production processes continues to grow. A recent example comes from Finland, where OMRON cobots are being used to speed up and improve the production capacity of the laser marking machines at Laser Quality Markings, a specialist company based in Halikko, near Salo
Laser Quality Markings provides permanent markings and colour patterns on a range of different surfaces - from wood and leather through to metal and plastic. Its clients (who include hospitals, industrial manufacturers, artists and consumers) expect the highest standards of accuracy, durability and quality.
The company uses world-class, unique colour laser marking technology that creates precise, permanent markings that make use of the object material itself. Recently, the company decided to upgrade and automate one of its key production processes due to a shortage of manual labour.
A need for automated machine tending
Kim Nivalinna, the CEO at Laser Quality Markings, explains: “We wanted to improve our production capacity and reduce waiting times while also being able to assign more business-critical tasks to our operators. Previously, they had to endure long waiting periods while operating the laser machine manually.”
The company started looking for a suitable robot to carry out the task instead. Another Finnish company, Heina Ltd, which is also based in Halikko, recommended cobots from OMRON. Heina Ltd mainly develops innovative testing devices for the electronic industry.
The main need for the cobot was to provide automated machine tending for the laser marking machine. The cobot would pick up the raw material that required marking and feed the items into the machine - and then pick them out again after the process. The cobot can alarm the operator if the feeder station is empty. In this way, the system can run longer time periods on its own.