2010-04-28 - ABB actively promotes the use of industrial robots in manufacturing; but it is also "walking the talk" by using them to manufacture its own products.
Robots have made a major impact on the productivity, safety and success of manufacturing industries. They are primarily used for welding, material handling and moving products around the factory safely, but they also offer reliability; tirelessly carrying out highly repetitive tasks, sometimes in hazardous environments, and improving safety in the work place.
A strong focus on efficient production methods
ABB is a leading manufacturer of industrial robots and has played a significant role in promoting their use in industry. In fact ABB not only recommends their use to customers, but also uses them to improve the efficiency of its own production lines. Producing efficient products using highly efficient production methods remains a strong focus for ABB. The ABB Low Voltage (LV) Motors factory in Västerås, Sweden, has optimized its production through the use of ABB robots.
19 robots help keep the ABB factory competitive
Robots picking up the completed motors before placing them on a pallet ready for shipping
ABB has been producing LV motors in Västerås since 1947. Large black and white photos, taken over 50 years ago, line the walls of a corridor at the factory showing dozens of busy men and women hand assembling motors. Today 19 robots keep the ABB LV Motors factory competitive despite the emergence of rival companies in low-cost countries. The factory employs 210 personnel and produces over 100,000 LV motors per year. A two-pronged strategy was adopted by ABB to remain competitive. ABB not only focused on launching new innovative generations of highly efficient motors, but also on the efficient manufacture of its product.
Improved cycle times deliver 30 percent savings
By automating the production process fewer people were required, reducing production costs and associated expenses that result from fluctuations in demand. ABB has many years of experience in the automation business and is particularly well equipped to automate production processes. The application of ABB robots to the production of motors ranging from units weighing 500 kg down to units weighing just 30 kg, has reduced production cycle times. The cycle time for the assembly of small motors, for example, is now only 80 seconds. Improved cycle times and reductions in personnel have contributed to the success of the Västerås motors factory. Six robots on the assembly line, for example, allowed 30 percent savings in personnel.
Reduce risk of injury and improved working conditions
The first ABB robot, an IRB 6, was installed in the foundry of the factory in 1974, and since then a wide range of robots have been installed. For the most part these robots have been employed to transport materials, but have also been used to automate most of the production processes, including welding, casting, pressing, winding, assembling and packaging. Since their introduction, much of the heavy lifting, previously carried out either manually or by cranes, is now done by robots, helping to reduce the risks of injury and improve working conditions for the people on the production line.