Sanipa, a manufacturer of premium bathroom furniture based in the Middle Franconian town of Treuchtlingen in Bavaria, uses the finest traditional craftsmanship to produce products which marry the past with the future. The company uses industrial manufacturing equipment but, on request, can fully adapt its products to its customers' requirements. Sanipa contacted toolcraft to help it automate previously manual processes. The result was the development of two automated solutions. The first is a 6-axis picking robot from Fanuc (R-2000iC/125L), which operates on an existing CNC machining cell, picks up parts, passes them through a labelling station and sets them down in a specified position. The second is a robot cell which automatically assembles drawers. In the drawer cell, another Fanuc robot (M-20iB/25) picks up the drawer components from a conveyor belt and puts them in a press, where the bases and rear panels are screwed together and the frames and inserts are assembled in a fully automated process. This enables single pieces of bathroom furniture to be made at the touch of a button.
These processes were previously performed manually, which meant the work was both time-consuming and monotonous. Above all, manual processes do not yield consistent results. In line with the client's requirements, toolcraft's robotics team developed a concept which covers and automates all the steps involved.
The automated solutions must be capable of machining parts of varying weights and sizes, which increase in increments of one millimetre (batches of one). At the picking robot, the milled components are fed through the CNC machining cell unsorted in batch size 1. The positions of the components are communicated through configured interfaces so that the separation process can be performed reliably. Once the machining work is complete, this is automatically fed back to the client's ERP system. In the second system, the drawer components are inserted into the supply units by hand. The components are identified using a hand scanner and automatically compared against the parts list. Once the drawer is complete, this too is automatically fed back to the client's ERP system. During the construction of the manufacturing equipment, the team took into account both the logical order of the processing steps and the need to observe the specified cycle times.
The result was the development of two automated solutions, which are the first of their kind in the industry. Since being put into operation at Sanipa, the milled parts are separated in an automated process and the drawer systems roll off the production line automatically. The foundations for bathroom furniture 4.0 have been laid.
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