Paradigm had an industry expert with a speciality in robotics applications come in, making the company aware that collaborative robots from Universal Robots could be a solution to the Midnight Cherry challenge.
“Collaborative robots were a new technology and it led to further investigation. This kind of robot allowed us to have a human and a robot working in the same workspace. They’re now working in a pendulum type of an operation where they can safely interact, allowing the human to check whether the robot has done an adequate amount of work before the final polishing is handed over to the human. It’s a very hand-in-hand kind of operation,” says Phillips, emphasising the simplicity of the robot cell.
“Usually with all of the physical guards that are required in order to make the work cell safe for the human, there is a long implementation period. The cartesian robot took five months. The implementation from the time of the receipt of the UR robot was just over a month.”
The implementation solved Paradigm’s back log on the popular cabinets by increasing throughput by 50%. Before choosing the UR robot, Paradigm conducted a thorough research of the collaborative robot market.
“Once we realised that a collaborative robot was a viable alternative for us, we did our homework and checked around the rest of the opportunities that were out there from different manufacturers. We found that for our application, the UR robot was not only the best robot for the application, but it was also the most cost efficient,” says Phillips, mentioning the UR robots’ built-in, adjustable force mode feature as another deciding factor.
“If too much force is applied, the surface heats and the results go the opposite direction to what you’d hoped. So, having the robot work with a specific force was a huge advantage. We were aware of technologies that allowed for a force feedback system, but they were actually as expensive as the entire UR robot. So, it was quite exciting to find that it had capabilities of force feedback within its inherent structure,” says Paradigm’s Manager of Production Services, who is now investigating future applications for the UR robots.
“We’re looking forward to being able to use Universal Robots in our various paint spraying processes and we’re also bringing in a new line of speakers that have a parabolic shape where we could utilize the adjustable force mode that allows us to determine a specific force at a particular point in the path of the robot. This will be very useful when it comes to sanding those non-plane facets.”