The operation of the plant has already been highly automated to meet the soaring demand of electronics industry. The plant believes its productivity can reach new heights by optimizing its intralogistics with further automation. Such an initiative could also bring the additional benefit of digital and systematic management.
“Currently our plant has a workforce of just 500 people but a vast amount of automated equipment to support our demanding production operation. We constantly look for rooms for improving our productivity and reducing unnecessary labor costs. We believe automating internal transport could optimize our plant’s intralogistics and bring the results we want,” said Dong Baoqiang, C/R manufacturing group manager of the plant.
As the risk of particulate contamination by no means could be promised, Tianjin plant uses cleanrooms to support its manufacturing operation. Cleanrooms are facilities specifically designed to maintain extremely low levels of particulates such as aerosol particles, airborne microbes, dust and vaporized particles. Before deploying MiR100s, workers had to dress in full set of cleanroom apparel and use trolleys, commuting within the plant, to transport production materials and finished products. Through automating the internal transport tasks, the risk of particulate contamination could be further minimized.
“In order to minimize the risk of particulate contamination in the manufacturing process by external factors, we need to reduce people’s traffic at the cleanrooms. In addition, corridors between arrays of automated equipment are very narrow with a width of just 1,800 mm. Therefore, we also need to take safety into account when evaluating automation options for internal transport,” he added.
AMR Stands Out in Safety Performance
After having evaluated different solution options, Tianjin plant opted for MiR100 because of its superior performance in safety and flexibility. The MiR robots meet both the EN1525 (Europe) and ANSI/ITSDF B56.5-2012 (USA) standards which detail safety requirements in four key areas, namely, e-stop, field switching, personnel detection and overspeed detection. Each MiR robot is also equipped with safety and control mechanism to ensure its safety operation.
The deployment of MiR100s also helps the plant uphold its stringent cleanliness requirements by reducing people’s traffic. Through using the complementary MiR Fleet management software, administrators can send instructions to MiR100 remotely without touching them for performing transport task or auto-recharge function.
The two MiR100 robots can take action immediately once having received real-time instructions. When being on the move, the robots could evaluate the situations of surrounding environment, circumvent people or obstacles, smoothly pass through every twist and turn, reach their destinations and complete the tasks safely.
One MiR100 is used in transporting production materials while the other is for finished products. For the former, the process of order fulfilment runs like this: Workers of a production line make requests of materials through the computer attached to the equipment; Such data will then be transmitted and integrated into the computer at the warehouse; Workers at the warehouse will then prepare the materials being requested and send an instruction to MiR100 through the MiR Fleet management software.
Regarding the process of transporting finished products, workers at production line will call for the MiR100 through the computers at their respective equipment; When the robot arrives, the worker will then place the finished products at its rack and press the activation button; the MiR100 will automatically navigate to the QC checkpoint; Once the quality inspection has been completed, the MiR100 will bring the finished products to warehouse.
Special programming arrangement has been made to avoid of collisions between the two robots when moving on the narrow corridors. Tianjin plant has appropriated one-way lanes, key areas and restricted zones for the robots at its production floor.
“It is worth mentioning our MiR100s have a customized fault-proof mechanism. Their racks for placing electronics products are equipped with electromagnetic mechanical doors. When a MiR100 reaches its destination, the host computer will then send a door-opening instruction via the wireless WISE module. After taking out the materials and products inside, workers would then close the door and click the finish button to let the MiR robots proceed to the next stop, “said Xu Fei, C/R Equipment Manager of the plant.
Automating Intralogistics optimizes HR Management
Prior to deploying MiR100s, Tianjin plant used three teams running in two shifts for transporting production materials and finished products by workers manually. A worker had to travel 116 meters for making one internal transport round- trip. With MiR100 robots, not only internal transport tasks are being carried out safely and efficiently, but also reducing 80% of labor costs in this regard.
“Our two MiR100s bring a lot of mileage in helping us improve the efficiency of intralogistics and reducing unnecessary costs. They have freed our workers from these tedious works and enabled them to embark on more meaningful, higher-value tasks,” Dong said.
“In the past, it was inevitable that some finished products would be damaged during the transport process and this added to our production costs. With the deployment of MiR100, such risk has been minimized and we have witnessed a positive impact on our cost-efficiency,” Xu said.
NiRight, MiR Certified System Integrator, has been instrumental in supporting the plant to deploy its two MiR100s. Taking the plant’s configuration, special environmental conditions and requirements into consideration, NiRight advised the plant to leverage its LAN network, a platform management system as well as a newly-built database for its 300+ equipment to form the backbone of the deployment strategy.
The MiR100 robots communicate with the host computer through the wireless network WISE module, and then the host computer accesses the database through the web page to establish communication among the three parties. This would instruct and enable the two robots to navigate to the designated locations.
In addition, through the user-friendly and intuitive MiR Fleet management software, the administrators of the plant can execute centralized management of the two robots at their fingertips even with limited programming experience.
Building on the success of the initial deployment, the plant intends to use its MiR100s to perform additional tasks at the cleanrooms of production floor for achieving further automation.