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How a mobile robot enabled lean manufacturing for a leading electronics company

For 50 years Flex has been leading the way in design and manufacturing. Led by one of Fortune’s most powerful women, the company is on a bold journey to ensure future competitiveness, with technology investment and integration at the heart of its operations. Flex has more than 200,000 employees in 30 countries and adheres to the Lean Six Sigma approach for optimized workflows.

Challenge

Flex's Austrian plant in Althofen wanted to cut down transportation time between the main warehouse and the manufacturing area. While they knew they wanted to automate, they couldn’t run the risk of three to six months downtime, which installing an automated guide vehicle (AGV) would require. On top of that, Flex needed an affordable solution that could meet their highly flexible requirements.

Approach

Flex implemented two MiR100 autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). Unlike AGVs, AMRs don’t require magnetic strips or wires to navigate, and are easy to set up and use. They now carry goods up to 100kg from the main warehouse to the production area, avoiding everyday obstacles.

Outcome

By freeing workers from monotonous transportation tasks, they can now focus on more high value and enjoyable tasks. Flex saw immediate process optimization and is now looking to expand the scope of the autonomous mobile robots’ activities in the warehouses. What’s more, they are also looking to add the patented MiRHook system to its technology mix.

“The first step was the use of robots for transporting goods from the main warehouse. When we saw that working perfectly, we asked ourselves: what other possibilities does this technology offer for us? The next logical step for us is to use the robots in combination with the Hook system for the transportation of finished goods to the dispatch department." Christoph Schaller, Director of Engineering at Flex.

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