Whirlpool is the world’s leading home appliance manufacturer. In its 109 year history, innovation has been at the core of its journey to global dominance. Now it has operations in almost every country and about $21 billion in annual sales.
Yet, like most manufactures, it faced a very modern dilemma; how to keep its competitive position with flexible productivity, while ensuring worker safety?
In Whirlpool’s Łódź plant in Poland, human-controlled forklifts and tuggers were used to transport components between the preassembly and assembly line. Whirlpool wanted to automate in order to optimize productivity, while keeping workers safe and available to complete more value-adding tasks.
Whirlpool implemented three MiR autonomous mobile robots to transport dryer doors without human involvement. Each MiR200 could autonomously pick up 12 doors from the preassembly line, then travel to the assembly line for unloading via an automated cart system. The full loop of 130 meters took only 3 minutes 50 seconds, and the robots used sensors and scanners to avoid collisions.
Whirlpool saw increased productivity and worker safety, and an ROI of less than two years. They will now continue to implement MiR robots at the Łódź plant and other locations.
"By changing the system from human-operated to automated delivery we can boost productivity and engage employees to final product manufacturing. The MiR robots provide us with low cost of automation and flexibility in changing the plant layout. We consider the two-year return on investment as attractive"
- Adam Bakowicz, Process Technology Senior Engineer Industry 4.0, Whirlpool.
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