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Image of KUKA robots with the company Aspen

A successful team effort

It was the project with a capital P. An assignment for Lantmännen Aspen that had to be completed with great precision. - A two-day production stop, that's all it took, says Tony Lyvén, project manager at Status Automation in Gothenburg.

Special project in more ways than one

For Tony Lyvén, the project was special in several ways. - "Yes, I previously worked as technical manager at Aspen and was involved in starting the project there. Then I joined Status Automation and continued to be involved, but now as a consultant," he says.
Aspen, based in Hindås outside Gothenburg, mixes and fills alkylate petrol in cans, which is used in chainsaws and lawnmowers, a type of petrol that is much better for the working environment and for the machines. The fuel is sold in plastic cans of five or twenty-five litres and the project was about making the handling of the empty cans more efficient.  

Making management more efficient

The fuel is sold in plastic cans of five or twenty-five litres and the project was about making the handling of the empty cans more efficient. Previously, the plastic cans were delivered on a pallet to a robot that lifted them down to a table. From there, they were picked up by a conveyor belt that took them on to labelling and filling, etc. Everything worked as it should, or nearly so. There were some problems. - A little too often, the robot knocked over the stacks of cans, which interrupted production. It happened once a day," says Tony Lyvén.

Two employees posing infront of KUKA robot
Tony Lyvén, Project Manager at Status Automation och Hampus Samuelsson, Sales Area Manager Sweden  
Another dilemma was that the filling machines, which are the heart of the operation, could handle 90 cans per minute, while the robotic cell could only manage 78. 
- Long before the project started, a bottleneck mapping was done for the plant where I was responsible for minimising bottlenecks and designing new solutions. In the mapping, the robot cell was a major bottleneck, the capacity had to be increased. So there was a potential to increase efficiency - it was about 13 per cent.
The robot in the old cell - a palletising robot - was 19 years old with a control system that was not supported. But the function was there, according to Tony Lyvén. But to get all the way to the end of the project, they needed to upgrade the entire automation, with programming, PLC, etc. In order to achieve this fully, the robot also had to be replaced.  

Layout in KUKA.Sim

Work on the project started about a year ago with a feasibility study. After that, the plan was laid out for a larger project. - Early in the project, Tony Lyvén received good help from KUKA with robot selection and making a simulation. A drawing of the entire layout of the robot cell was entered into an ordinary laptop and processed with the KUKA.Sim software. The team was then able to test drive digitally.
A well-invested measure according to Tony Lyvén. - "We came up with several things that we needed to change before we could proceed. They then purchased the new equipment - including the KUKA KR 180 PA robot, which they had previously been able to test in the simulation - and set up a test cell in a vacant neighbouring room. There they installed, programmed, test-drove and fine-tuned the details. This work took about a month.
Illustration of a production facilitiy
Layout in KUKA simulation software for efficient offline programming of KUKA robots: With KUKA.Sim, you can evaluate and optimize your automation solutions even before you build them - quickly and easily.

Programming expertise from KUKA

The entire schedule was designed to replace the old robot cell at a precise time: Thursday and Friday of week four. A time of year when Aspen is in the low season of the year and can best handle a halt in production.
- Already in week ten, spring starts to arrive down in Europe and the demand for alkylate petrol starts, then Aspen's production continues until the high season is over (usually in November).
According to Tony Lyvén, the team of programmers, electrical fitters, mechanical fitters, electricians and others - a total of about ten people from Aspen, Status Automation, KUKA and various other companies - were a bit nervous when they gathered at the factory on Thursday in week four. It was time to "pull the plug" on the old robot cell and install the new one in two days. On Monday, the factory would be up and running as usual.
- It went incredibly well. We were in on Sunday and ran through a few batches of cans. -"Everything worked perfectly".
Employee looking at robot at work
Patrik Örn, programmer and service engineer at KUKA Nordic. -"Patrik  from KUKA has been a key figure in the whole project and he has done a great job", says Tony Lyvén, Project Manager Status Automation  
The robot runs through about 10 million cans per year and is incredibly important for the production flow.
The whole set-up with the different machine units, systems, safety was really good. And the robot navigated without knocking over any stacks of plastic cans. For Tony Lyvén, the job was done. But, he says, even though he is a consultant and has no commitment, he keeps in touch with Aspen to check on the situation.
- "The whole team is so satisfied, and it feels incredibly fun," he says. 

The teams at Aspen, Status and KUKA Nordic

At Aspen, Carl-Henrik Hübert, Gustav Runesson and Branko Markovich were closely linked to the work. Status Automation had several people involved in the project: Tony Lyvén, project manager, Martin Z (PLC, HMI responsible), Henke, Nicklas, Kerry and Jimmy managed the assembly and built a completely new gripper (electrical and mechanical). Richard managed the electrical construction and Magnus L coordinated the assemblers.
For KUKA, it was mainly the programmer Patrik Örn, simulation expert Emil Samuelsson and salesman Hampus Samuelson.
KUKA also provided training in the operation of the robot cell, plus the team had access to KUKA Nordic's Tech Centre in Gothenburg.

Very enjoyable project and great teamwork

Hampus Samuelson, Area Sales Manager Sweden

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