Metal Casting Technologies : MCT-3RDQRT-2017
Jobs vs robots It is generally accepted that the use of robotic systems in manufacturing can lower costs, boost productivity, quality and flexibility, and increase profitability. Businesses become more competitive and are able to grow, sometimes re-shoring manufacturing in the process. On the flip side, the negative impact of automation on jobs is a widespread concern. Yet rather than cutting headcounts, manufacturers using robots typically find they need more people to handle increased production volumes. In short, robots – when used in the right way – can create a virtuous circle of investment, growth and job creation. When people have to complete repetitive manual tasks – especially those needing precision – they get tired, make mistakes and are susceptible to injury. Human quality is inconsistent and output suffers. This is why an ever increasing number of robots are working in foundries, tending stamping presses and moulding machines, and deflashing castings. They are picking parts from moving conveyors, assembling complex products and making consistent welds. At the end of production lines, robots pack parts in cartons and place those cartons on pallets. Thanks to the latest robotic innovations, they are even handling irregular packages and building mixed pallets that simplify distribution. “Robots can free up the human workforce of a foundry to do more skilled jobs in a better way,” says Frank-Peter Kirgis, head of BU Robotics at ABB Switzerland. “Automation can provide significant benefit to organizations and their employees, with humans and automation working together to achieve better results than either could alone.” “Foundries are an excellent example of where the introduction of robots allows employees to be moved from dull, dirty, delicate and dangerous tasks into more stimulating roles with far more potential for satisfaction and advancement,” he continues. In fact, rather than being apprehensive about robots, there are a growing number of reasons why employees should actually welcome their arrival. “If you go to a foundry or auto factory, you still see lots of people simply carrying things,” says Junji Tsuda, chairman and president of Japanese robotics company Yaskawa Electric. “There is still a lot of back-breaking work – inhuman work – that we shouldn’t ask people to do. We should roboticise this as soon as possible.” Counting the cost Some small and medium-sized foundries have reservations about implementing robots into their workflow. They worry about needing specialist skills, retaining the flexibility for short production runs, and the cost of purchase and maintenance. While these were valid concerns a decade ago, technology has now advanced and the robotics skills base has grown exponentially. Today industrial robots are easy to programme – both at the machine and in the office. Powerful software packages enable fast and accurate offline programming, minimising on-machine programme time. A growing number of foundries now assign programming to maintenance technicians, rather than employing dedicated programming staff. Robots can be more flexible through adjustable cell and gripper design. Integrators with many successful projects behind them know what works best for operations with different FEATURE 18 www.metals.rala.com.au Sand core handling with an IRB 7600. ROBOTS CAN FREE UP THE HUMAN WORKFORCE OF A FOUNDRY TO DO MORE SKILLED JOBS IN A BETTER WAY ... An ABB robot casts brass parts at Ostnor's foundry in Sweden. ARL easySpark OES Revealing the power of metals analysis Find out more at www.thermofisher.com/easyspark © 2017 Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. All rights reserved. All trademarks are the property of Thermo Fisher Scientific and its subsidiaries unless otherwise specified. The Thermo ScientificTM ARL easySpark TM benchtop metals analyzer is designed to meet the challenges and demands of small to medium-sized metal manufacturers that need high-quality and cost-effective OES analyses. With its unique multi-grating/CCD based optical design, the ARL easySpark provides full elemental coverage, optimal resolution and stability - delivering high performance for all critical elements. Combined with the intuitive Thermo ScientificTM easyOXSAS software suite, the ARL easySpark benchtop OES enables non-experts to reveal the power of metals analyzer in metal and alloy production.
MCT DEC 2017 (4TH QRT)