DeWalt Industrial Tools, part of the Stanley Black & Decker group, is a leader in the professional power-driven tools sector. At the Corciano facility, just outside Perugia, which covers 15,000 square metres and employs 250 people, the products in the two largest brand families are manufactured: wood cutting power-driven tools and demolition hammers.
The internal processes featured at the facility are the sum of a series of activities that include not only final assembly but also the construction of strategic components of the machinery, specifically the construction of the armatures and stators necessary for building the electric motors, component painting, as well as the mechanical processing of steel, aluminium and magnesium parts.
The company, which is characterised by deep-rooted lean thinking culture and a strong drive for innovation, has decided to create an I4.0 assembly line, implementing two MiR200 robots in a unique manner, equipped with a special upper module that allows them to interact with the robotic cell.
“When we embarked on the road to creating an assembly line in an Industry 4.0 perspective that outlined the standards for the next few years, we found in MiR an ideal partner to help us achieve our goals; the decisive factor was above all to use a product intended to solve intralogistics problems for an outside-the-box application.", Stefano Baldini, Plant Manager at DeWalt Industrial Tools explains.
From assembly line to assembly cell
Along the demolition hammer assembly lines, the company needed to move 180 kg pallet kits, which would contain all the components necessary to build a specific hammer, in a special version with a unique ID.
"We could not afford to build floor-standing transport structures or any type of fixed system that blocked operator transit.", says Francesca Ballerini, Process Engineer & Maintenance Manager at DeWalt Industrial Tools. "Handling activities, which tend to be a Muda [in lean process thinking], have been reduced as far as possible and then assigned to the pair of AMRs, thus leaving the cell staff to be allocated only those activities that add value to the product.", Ballerini continues.
Specifically, there is an operator in charge of preparing the pallet kit who, once the activities described in sequence by the MOM system have been completed, confirms completion of the tasks through the dedicated HMI. At this point, the system, through a vision system, checks the completeness of the pallet and the correct orientation of the components and, subsequently, makes the call to the first MiR200 which, having received the mission, handles the transfer, using One Piece Flow cadence, of the pallet itself from the preparation station to entry in the robotic cell.
The simplicity of the signal exchange between the various systems has allowed for rapid installation, as well as guaranteeing correct transfer of the unambiguous nature of pallet information from one system to another, allowing total product traceability.
On leaving the robotic cell, the operator is responsible for creating the electrical system of a certain hammer, using the components arranged on the dedicated pallet and, once the activities are completed, he/she will confirm that the pallet is empty via the HMI to the MOM system. This triggers the call to the second MiR200 which, having received the mission, handles the return of the pallet to the preparation station.
"The extreme simplicity of the management software has allowed us almost autonomously to integrate the recharging stations near the pallet exchange roller conveyors, permitting refills even during the work phases, allowing us to optimise waiting times, space and thus meaning usage time of the AMRs can be extended without increasing the fleet.", Francesca Ballerini explains.
A mobile workbench in a compact space
One of the major advantages introduced with MiR200, as well as the special nature of the application implemented at the DeWalt facility in Perugia, was the possibility of making intermediate stops during the return of the empty pallet, allowing the operator to fill the pallet itself in the most ergonomic position possible, thus transforming the AMR into a real workbench, an unusual application but of great value for those who want to remain flexible.
The introduction of the two robots has also made it possible to optimise the space available next to the line, for operator transit, without the need to install fixed structures that would have compromised flexibility and functionality.
"The ease of use and integration of the MiR with all the innovative cell systems, as well as with people, has allowed us to solve apparently complex problems with a simple and functional solution.", Stefano Baldini commented.
Stefano also commented on the relationship between the AMR and the staff: “The MiR200 was greeted by line operators at first with a bit of scepticism that normally goes hand in hand with all technological innovations. Then, having learned how easy it is to use, with a decidedly user-friendly interface, together with robust stability and system safety, it became an integral part of working equipment which we cannot do without today."
DeWalt Industrial Tools is proud of the innovative application implemented with the support of the system integrator K.L.A.IN Robotics, so much so that it is planning to implement AMRs to service other lines and processes that need to be automated, to free operators from transport tasks and optimise intralogistics.
"Confirmation of the return on investment on schedule has given us the confidence to look in the near future to the option of expanding the fleet on two different value flows, this time linked more to a traditional use of the product.", Stefano Baldini concludes.
Indeed, the company is assessing the option of moving pallets, loaded with finished products, from the production lines to the shipping areas and to use a fleet of AMR MiRs to supply the assembly lines, through automated transport between warehouse and production area.
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