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Zap inefficiency with process automation

When an international manufacturer serving the electrical industry asked ZAP-Mechanika to machine a new design of clamping tool forging, there was a clear need for a fully automated production cell that would ensure a constant, defined cycle time.

ZAP-Mechanika asked sister company ZAP-Robotyka to design and create the automated machining cell. The cell features two FANUC ROBODRILL CNC machining centres served by a single FANUC six-axis industrial robot equipped with two FANUC iRVision 3D vision systems.

With their large field of view, the FANUC 3DV/1600 3D vision sensors housed in iRVision systems recognise and pick up randomly located workpieces direct from a large tote bin. The robot subsequently loads and unloads parts from the two ROBODRILL machines. Notably, the vision-enabled cell also allows ZAP-Mechanika to work autonomously. The company can therefore produce two different components in a single cell, significantly accelerating the machining process with fewer resources.

About ZAP-Mechanika

Established in 2000, ZAP-Mechanika operates a 173-employee, 5800 m2 manufacturing plant in Ostrów Wielkopolski, Poland. Serving major brands from North America, Europe and Asia, the company is a leading manufacturer of mobile hydraulics and clamping tools. As an expert in precision metalworking, services at ZAP-Mechanika include component machining, heat treatment, precision measurement and metallurgy. A particular strength of this ISO9001-accredited company is its close co-operation with customers at an early project stage to help develop the optimal machining process.

“In our latest project for an international manufacturer of clamping tools operating in the electrical industry, we were tasked with creating a fully automatedproduction

line that would ensure a constant, defined cycle time for machining the clamping tool forgings,” explains Krystian Młynarczyk, Technologist at ZAP-Mechanika.ZAP-Mechanika subsequently engaged the services of sister company ZAP-Robotyka, an experienced specialist in the development and integration of robotic and automated workstations. Also based in Ostrów Wielkopolski, ZAP-Robotyka accepted the challenge, designing, constructing, delivering and implementing the entire production cell on behalf of ZAP-Mechanika.

Paweł Wróbel, Project Specialist at ZAP-Robotyka, explains the design and configuration: “In the robotic cell there’s a FANUC M-20iD/35 six-axis industrial robot equipped with two FANUC iRVision 3D vision systems. The vision-enabled robot serves two ROBODRILL CNC machining centres [α-D21LiA5 and α-D21LiB5 models]. Each iRVision system connects directly to the robot, so ZAP-Mechanika can take advantage of extremely fast communication.”

Thanks to the large field of view, FANUC iRVision systems are able to recognise and pick up randomly positioned objects straight from a workpiece tote bin as large as a pallet. The robot subsequently loads and unloads parts to and from the ROBODRILL machines. But that is not all, there is an extra innovation in the cell designed by ZAP-Robotyka.

“The system allows ZAP-Mechanika to work autonomously,” reveals Marta Portasiak, Constructor at ZAP-Robotyka. “This non-standard approach makes it possible to produce two different components in a single cell, with a single robot, significantly accelerating the production process.”

The project also saw ZAP-Robotyka develop a novel system for gripping and manipulating parts, and design special tooling for the workstation.

“The application has increased our productivity with fewer resources, while making our work easier and delivering continuity across the process,” says Tomasz Krazynski, CEO at ZAP-Mechanika.

A traditional set-up to machine the clamping tool forgings would require three machine tools and three operators. In contrast, ZAP-Mechanika is using only one operator, one FANUC robot, two FANUC machine tools and two FANUC 3D cameras.

“This cell clearly sets out our goals for the future,” concludes Krazynski. “We’ll continue to invest in automation moving forward and keep developing robotic production cells.”