SANMATSU Automated with OnRobot Collaborative Applications

This is an OnRobot company case study


“We produce over 100,000 items a month, of which about 70% are one-piece productions.” That’s how Mr. Tetsuro Tanabe, President/CEO of SANMATSU Co., Ltd., introduces his company.

As a high-mix low-volume manufacturer, SANMATSU, quick to perceive the public’s growing need for HMLV production, came up with an original business model of small-lot contract manufacturing. The company is serious about an approach that’s “completely build to order, one item at a time.”

“Completely build to order, one item at a time,” is an effective way to create a “strong SME” without sacrificing cost competitiveness.

But fulfilling customer needs one product at a time, each with a different size, shape, and function, means the production setup has to be swapped more often. Streamlining production and cutting manufacturing costs thus requires big moves.

To streamline cutting processes, SANMATSU switched out two machine tools for one advanced machining centre (MC).

The MC takes 5 to 10 minutes to fabricate one part. That means every 5 to 10 minutes, parts are switched out by extracting the fabricated part and setting a new one. While the MC operates, a person must remain on hand just to switch out parts.

Mr. Tanabe thought, ” We need to innovate to take advantage of the MC’s high performance while cutting labour hours. Let’s use automated machine tending with collaborative applications that supplies and extracts parts at the MC and machine tools.”

Could a collaborative gripper and collaborative application automate an HMLV setting?

Sanmatsu found a key solution. The solution is the use of the OnRobot’s collaborative applications solution with their RG6 Dual Gripper that works smoothly with a cobot. This allows safe movement around humans and it also lowers initial investment because it does not require a safety fence.

With a 160mm max stroke and 6kg load capacity, the OnRobot RG6 Dual Gripper can handle diverse parts of different sizes and weights. And since it can extract and set parts simultaneously with its two grippers, the RG6 makes a big impact by swapping out parts faster and lowering MC wait times.

Using OnRobot’s collaborative applications and grippers on the end of a robotic arm offers a production site great flexibility and adaptability, thereby making a major contribution to automated HMLV production.

SANMATSU automated their MC machine tending, lowering production costs by 10%.

Mr. Tanabe said, “We didn’t have to keep somebody at the MC all the time anymore. It also reduced production site stress and vastly cut overtime. And on the cost front, automation allows for more unmanned MC fabrication hours, lowering production costs about 10%.”

Instead of just installing an MC, SANMATSU automated the process with a collaborative application using a cobot and OnRobot gripper, making the innovation a success.

Mr. Tanabe said emphatically, “Installing collaborative robots and applications can have a big impact, especially at small and medium-sized factories pursuing advanced HMLV production.”

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