HRC application in robot assembly

Working alongside its human colleague, the KUKA LBR iiwa lightweight robot screws the gear units for the QUANTEC industrial robot into place. And in doing so, the robot makes the procedure more productive and ergonomical.

The initial situation

How can you optimize your own robot assembly processes? In exactly the same way as we do it for a customer: “We ask the right questions, find a suitable, customized solution and turn it into a practical application,” says Henning Borkeloh, Vice President of Advanced Technology Solutions at KUKA Systems. The KUKA LBR iiwa lightweight robot had already excelled in its role in the assembly of the in-line wrist of the QUANTEC robot. The LBR iiwa’s next task was to screw the gear units for the link arm into place. The “rolling assistant” took up its role on the assembly line at the beginning of 2015.

The task

The task is to install the gear units for the robot link arm on the KR Quantec in KUKA’s own production department. The gear unit must be screw-fastened with a torque of exactly 104 newton meters as defined in the design specifications. This is a monotonous and ergonomically inconvenient task.

The solution

When the human operator touches the KUKA LBR iiwa, this signals to the robot that it should begin the automated screw fastening process. Using its sensitive and responsive capabilities, the lightweight robot then begins to calibrate itself in the workstation. During this time, the human operator loads a new link arm onto the support table. Each link arm is fitted with pre-inserted screws. The KUKA LBR iiwa tightens these in the order and to the exact torque defined in the design specifications. Only when it is touched again by the human operator does the KUKA LBR iiwa begin tightening the screws on the second link arm. The worker can intervene in the work process at any time. No safety fences are required. 

Der Werker kann direkt neben dem Roboter den Vorgang steuern
The operator can intervene in the work process at any time. No safety fences are required.
An additional advantage of the KUKA flexFELLOW mobile application is that it provides constant documentation, improving quality and process reliability. “We are experiencing the concept of ‘Industrie 4.0’ in our very own production hall. Here, robots build robots in collaboration with human operators. The German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) has also confirmed just how safe this collaboration is. Furthermore, the customer benefits from the low space requirements of the system, increased productivity and the improved ergonomic situation for the human worker,” says Borkeloh. Everything is designed specifically for human-robot collaboration. Additionally, the KUKA flexFELLOW can also be used in manual assembly. By having both human operators and robots in a position to step in, ongoing production is guaranteed.
KUKA took the entire system into consideration from the very beginning so that the robot could collaborate with its human colleagues in a safe manner. This was key, because even the most sensitive sensors will not suffice if the robot has a sharp tool in its gripper, even if it is moving at a safe speed and stops immediately when it senses the tiniest amount of resistance. An independent body has certified that the safety measures are, in fact, effective during everyday operations. In 2015, the trade association test and certification body of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV Test) for machinery and automated production certified the flexFELLOW system. As a result, the system meets all the criteria for biomechanical limit values in accordance with ISO/TS 15066 and also conforms to the stipulations of Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. So, safety does indeed come first.
The mobile micro-system meets all the criteria for biomechanical limit values in accordance with ISO/TS 15066 and also conforms to the stipulations of Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC.
Human-Robot-Collaboration: Robots producing robots together with their human colleagues in KUKA´s production plant.

We are putting ‘Industrie 4.0’ into practice in our own production

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