Leinfelden-Echterdingen – Digitalisation in production is not an end in itself but must always lead to tangible improvements for the company and its customers. Against this background, Roto Fenster- und Türtechnologie (FTT) reports on further targeted Industry 4.0 projects. After recently announcing its entry into additive manufacturing, the globally active hardware manufacturer is now detailing the integration of collaborative robots in production. In addition, Roto FTT will soon take its next step in digitalisation with online machine diagnostics.
A collaborative robot can work in the same area as people, right next to them, and in the event of a possible collision, it automatically reduces the speed to a stop, explains Dr Stefan Thiemermann. According to the FTT Production Director, complex protective fencing is therefore unnecessary. After intensive analysis and preparations, Roto began the testing of the first robot halfway through 2020. It was installed on the automatic packaging unit at a rotary table workstation for centre lock assembly in the Hungarian town of Lövő. This “new member of staff” is tasked with stacking the components transported by a conveyor belt, then bundling and labelling them before placing them in a container.
The test period is now complete and normal operation using the robot has begun. The extensive practical experience of using this technology that has been collected and evaluated was used as an important parameter for the exact specifications of the next similar robot. It is also used to package finished parts for use. To this end, it is directly allocated to an automatic stay guide assembly station which produces, for example, “Roto NX” hardware in large quantities and in two different lengths.
The aim is to add a driverless transport system to this collaborative duo at a later point in Lövő. Ernö Kocsis explains that this digitalisation technology is intended to automatically replenish long semi-finished parts both between the warehouse and the relevant automatic machines as well as between the packaging cell and the finished parts warehouse. As the Managing Director of Roto Elzett Certa Kft. highlights, this eliminates waiting times and speeds up production processes on the whole.
For the window and door technology specialist’s customers, the new age of robots, which is to be rolled out to the other 15 FTT factories around the world, will have a positive impact on delivery quality in particular. It will be more efficient, reliable and accurate.
(More) seamless production
By contrast, a second digitalisation pilot project is still in the initial stages of a “groundbreaking if unassuming development”. This is dedicated to maintaining the functionality of systems in the long term by collecting and processing technical data using artificial intelligence. In specific terms, this means detecting possible machine malfunctions at an early stage, preventing serious faults, minimising maintenance costs and avoiding production downtime. Ultimately what matters here is ensuring that customers enjoy the benefits of on-time delivery. This permanently stabilises the window and door manufacturer’s production processes.
To achieve these aims, Roto is working intensively on online machine diagnostics. Lövő, as the largest production location in FTT’s production network, offers the best prerequisites for this with a good 600 employees. For instance, it features a series of automatic punching presses. The new digital system is being trialled on one of these. Kocsis expects the pilot project to be successfully completed by the start of 2022, with the aim of transforming other factories afterwards.
The current Industry 4.0 examples are testament to the consistent implementation of the multifaceted digitalisation strategy, concludes Thiemermann. The Production Director also highlights the contribution they are making to operational excellence in production and logistics, as well as to tackling the national shortage of staff through further automation.