Robotic Innovations Revitalise Resin Flooring Production
A novel piece of equipment has been installed in Flowcrete’s Swedish manufacturing facility after the Company President laid down a challenge to use robotics to boost the plant’s productivity.
The factory engineers picked up this gauntlet and solved the problem by reprogramming a production line robot from a local automotive plant.
Nicknamed ‘Kevin’ by the Flowcrete Sweden team, the machine now picks up large base units of resin from the end of the factory line and deftly places them onto pallets.
These plastic and steel pails would be much too heavy for a person to lift, but Kevin can continue to package products for several shifts a day, 6 days a week.
Mark Greaves, the President of the global resin flooring leader Flowcrete Group, devised the plan to optimise the manufacturing process by utilising existing factory automation technologies in an innovative manner.
Mr Greaves said: “The precision and dexterity of the robot’s movements is incredible, especially when you realise that it was originally intended for use in an entirely different industry.
“Our manufacturing plant in Sweden is now able to process and pack material at a faster rate than ever before. The next step is to install an automated pallet wrapper for Kevin to place the pails onto so that the finished pallet can be taken directly to the warehouse or to despatch.
“We’ve embarked on this course as Flowcrete is experiencing growth around the world, this means that it is vitally important for us to modernise and to think creatively about how to make the most of our plants, resources and skills.”
Kevin is the latest addition to this production line, which has seen several other upgrades during 2014 to enhance the automated filling and lidding process.
Flowcrete Sweden’s Factory Engineer Torsten Torstensson, who spent three months reprogramming the robot, developed the production line.
Mr Torstensson said: “The task at hand was to create a production line that could handle nine tons of material a day and which didn’t require staff to lift excessively heavy loads.
“The result is an entirely bespoke process. Nothing here is prefabricated; instead it has all been made to my own drawings and designs. One aspect that I’m particularly proud of is the automatic positioning of the buckets, as this has to be at exactly the right angle so that Kevin can move them around. Other companies have since been to the site to see the inventions I created for this production line.”
Mr Greaves added: “This is a fantastic achievement and represents the next generation of resin flooring production. Going forward we will continue to look at further automation projects to ensure that our facilities are fit for the future of industrial manufacturing.”