Mobile robots improve efficiency and free up to six full-time employees
Honeywell has deployed three MiR100 robots in its Poole facility. The MiR robots reduce the amount of time people are pushing trolleys around so they can be up-skilled for better efficiency. “The main challenge with the MiR robot we want to overcome is the staff, who are allocated to pushing carts,” said Ward. “We wanted them to get back onto the production line and drive efficiency. By bringing the MiR robots on-site, we are freeing up six full-time staff members to produce more and make the line more efficient.”
Freeing employees from low-value material-transportation tasks also supports other lean manufacturing goals, including the ability to have multi-skilled staff who can work on a variety of production lines as needed. “We like to have staff that can be multi-trained and multi-skilled so they can work in different parts of the business and help level-load the product,” Ward said. In that way, the MiR robots fit right in—easily learning new routes and processes to adapt to changing production needs.
Powerful software integrates into existing systems
Honeywell Analytics uses the MiR Fleet software to manage three robots in its dynamic environment. The software assigns tasks to available and nearby robots, and ensures safe, efficient operation. Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Leader Stuart Harris explained, “Because we have multiple robots here, we really needed a fleet manager to assign tasks to the robots and make sure that we have only got one robot in a place; particularly, for example, a narrow corridor, where we only want one robot at a time. The fleet manager looks after that for us.” The software was also used to manage elements such as robot speed, so that the robot could move faster in some areas and slower in others. When a robot’s battery is low, it automatically returns to a charging station while it waits for further orders.
MiR robots offer fast payback
Harris described the advantages of using robots for low-level tasks that have historically been done by workers. “It means that there is a whole wealth of efficiencies that we touch upon. There is no waiting for people when they are on breaks, or lunch, or even out of hours before you come in to work or when you go home from work. Robots can continue working and doing the tasks.”
Honeywell typically looks for a return of investment in two years, which Honeywell Analytics expects to easily achieve with the three MiR robots on its site. Ward said, “We'd like to drive the efficiency even more with conveyors and systems, so we are going to invest more money in the MiR system so we can free up more staff and be more flexible as a company.”