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Get virtual before you get real
Downtime is the number one nightmare of every manufacturing company. Time-to-
market is getting shorter, quality demands tougher and error margins slimmer; under these unforgiving conditions lengthy stoppages are not an option. An increasingly popular way around taking robots out of production to create or modify programs is to use RobotStudio, ABB’s off-line programming and 3D simulation software. Introduced some six years ago, this product was the first of its kind. Volker Miegel, a Germany-
based senior specialist for ABB, was involved with RobotStudio right from the start. “It was uncharted territory in those days. But now it’s an established brand,” he says, and we’ve sold a significant number of licenses over the last few years.”
An exact replica in your PC RobotStudio is built on ABB’s Virtual Robot Technology, a replica of the real software that runs the robots in production. This permits highly realistic simulations, using robot programs and configuration files identical to those on the shop floor – all in a familiar Windows environment. New solutions can now be evaluated before they’re even built.
According to Volker, Robot-Studio is still the industry benchmark, ”Everybody’s heard of it. We were the first robot vendor to offer our own simulation software, and we’re still ahead of competing solutions in terms of functionality and accuracy.”
Adding a third dimension to customer relationships
In Volker’s home country, RobotStudio has helped to add new spice to old customer relationships. A good example is Benteler Automobiltechnik, a major supplier to the auto-motive industry, which employs 380 robots in a mig welding and material handling operation. The company manufactures axles and form parts, including B-columns and door reinforcements for a variety of carmakers.
RobotStudio was utilized to reduce the initial operating time on-site. Because the exact location of each robot could be determined off-line in a virtual environment, downtime was cut to a minimum. As Volker explains, “Before the arrival of RobotStudio, each new product had to go through an expensive and time-consuming trial and error phase. Now this is all done on a PC.”
Staying one step ahead
RobotStudio is today a fully accepted member of the team at Benteler – especially within design. The program is used to check designs, and, if there are any problems, eliminate them ahead of time. “Starting up a new production over a weekend is a great achievement. Without RobotStudio, it would never have happened.”
Adding speed to Toyota’s Formula One team Toyota Motorsport in Cologne
works exclusively with Formula One. Unlike its parent organization in Japan, this dedicated outfit produces just three automobiles: two racing cars and one replacement. Almost all parts are manufactured in-house – and the quality demands couldn’t be tougher. Naturally, they’re equally fussy about their suppliers.
“We’re privileged to be working with a Formula One team,” says Volker Miegel. Currently, an IRB 2400 is used to deburr cylinder heads. Before the robot was installed, the process was carried out manually, which created a bottleneck.
3,000 points to teach
With over 3,000 teach points on each cylinder head, the only was to program the robot – with-out bringing the entire process to a halt – was to go off-line. Enter Robot-Studio, which not only helped Toyota Motorsport speed up the trimming process, but also delivered the accuracy required in Formula One.
Virtual has become real
“Over the past few years, RobotStudio has given the term off-line programming a whole new meaning. What was impossible just a few years ago is feasible today. And as the product develops and more functionality is added, customers will be enjoying even greater value,” concludes Volker Miegel.
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