Watch case component connections are machined at the company’s manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu. Until recently, the components were loaded manually into machines. However, manual loading significantly limited production speed, as an operator could only do so for a period of three hours.
In addition, this repetitious step prevented the company from better utilizing its valuable skilled employee resources elsewhere in the plant, says Ravi Chandran, senior manager. As a result, Titan began to consider automating the process with a robot.
After carefully considering return on investment for the equipment, and the fact that the case machining process requires horizontal loading, Chandran determined that a four-axis robot with a vision system was a better option than a more dexterous and expensive six-axis model.
Chandran settled on the Cobra i600 SCARA four-axis robot from Adept Technology Inc. The i600 is a self-contained, standalone robot with no external electronics. The robot also was equipped with the AdeptSight vision guidance and inspection system, which runs on a PC, features a simple graphical user interface and can be customized for each application.
The robot was set up to attend a set of three machines. This enabled Titan to reduce the number of operators required-from three employees per shift to one. Running two shifts a day meant that four operators were freed up each day.
Without the need to manually load machines, the operator’s only task is to set the robot and inspect components. Setting the robot takes just five minutes, due to a Z-axis brake release switch.
In production, one operator brings a stack of trays holding 25 to 50 components per tray. The trays are then automatically fed into the work area as needed.
The robot picks up a part and places it on a stage so the vision system captures an image and orients the part. The robot then picks the component from the stage and places it into the first of three machines. After the first process is completed, the robot moves the machined component to the second and third machines. The robot unloads the completed piece from the third machine, with the entire sequence lasting about 15 seconds.
Thanks to the i600 robot, Titan has doubled its production during an eight-hour shift-from 750 pieces to 1,500 pieces.
“With doubling our production and freeing up a total of four employees per shift to work on other projects, we anticipate achieving a return on investment in less than 12 months,” says Chandran.
For more information on SCARA robots, call 925-245-3400 or visit www.adept.com.