The OEM has developed a smart handling system at its Vrchlabí plant for the pick-and-place robots handling forged transmission shafts
This smart handling robot is deployed in gearbox production at the component plant and is being used to move forged parts for the workforce. The process involves IoT sensor guided autonomous robots delivering forged blanks for transmission shafts, in bins, to the CNC machining lines. Here, the smart handling robot picks the blanks from the bins and places them onto the CNC machine’s conveyor, then removes them when the machining process is complete and places them into a transport bin.
The enabling technology is based on digital image recognition, using a 3D camera to scan the position of the randomly arranged forged parts in the bin. Based on the camera image, an algorithm determines which of the parts is optimal for the gripper to grab and works out the movements required.
Škoda says the project, a collaboration between several departments to design and implement this smart handling solution, took eleven months from the first feasibility study to deploying the system in series operation. The company notes that it has developed this system in-house to build up its expertise in production automation and that it’s just one of a number of automation projects at the Vrchlabí plant.
The manager of the Vrchlabí plant, Ivan Slimák, said: “At our state-of-the-art Vrchlabí site, we are setting benchmarks in the digitalisation of our production methods. We have now taken the next step with our new smart handling robot. Advanced algorithms and image recognition capabilities make our processes as efficient as possible while continuing to improve workplace ergonomics for our staff. We will roll out the principle of smart handling to other areas of production.”
The company says that the robot handles a total weight of 900kg per shift across both these production steps and that the employees who previously carried out this physically demanding work are now assigned to tasks such as tool changes and measuring processes. Blanks for shafts and gears are brought to the CNC machines by an autonomous robot, with ordering and retrieval of the parts also taking place automatically.
Watch the video on this automation project here: