MechChem Africa October 2017

⎪ Automation, process control and instrumentation ⎪

Sietze Bremer, senior sourcing specialist for industry at Philips, describes the implementation of a forward-looking automated assembly concept for Phillips shavers. “We wanted to feel certain that the system would still be able to economically produce shavers in ten years time, without knowing what that shaver of the future will look like,” he says. A future-proof assembly concept for high-end shavers

P roduction of shavers is under an im- mense cost pressure and the trade offer for the devices is quite large. In combination with factors such as quality and design, the purchase decision is also affected by the price. To remain competi- tive under these conditions, Philips’ shaver production operates out of two production sites: one in China and the other inDrachten. Today, the China facility produces 20-billion shavers with two shaving heads annually and the Drachten plant’s 1 500 employees pro- duce close to eight billion devices with three shaving heads per year. The Philips centre for research and de- velopment also resides in Drachten, the Netherlands, whichmeans that all newPhilips shavers, ranging from the standard model to the high-tech shaver, are developed out of this facility. The assembly of these high-tech shaving devices demands the highest level of quality and, whereas standard shaver models rely on mostly manual labour, the demand for a high-quality assembly process has made the Drachten plant turn to automation for its production. Reliable assembly processes with integrated quality control assure the highest levels of quality for their consumer products.

The solution: Omron Adept How does one build machinery capable of assembling future products that nobodyhas yet seen or conceived? This presented a significant challenge that would test the ambition and creativity of the Bremen people. The solution was to be found in Omron Adept. Automation strategist Schaller explains: “After

For Bremer Werk für Montagesysteme, building the necessary equipment for de- manding assembly tasks is no secret. Their automation specialists have the industry expertise and knowledge, but in the case of Philips, much more was required than pre- existing, proven solutions off-the-rack. “The real challenge in finding the right solution for Philips was to accommodate the enormous model variety of these high-end shavers. Currently about 60 different product lines culminate in some 600 single products – and the product spectrum changes almost every day,” saysMatthias Schaller, head of robotics at the Bremer Werk für Montagesysteme. Beyond that obstacle, Philips outlined a requirement for anassembly solution that de- mandedmuchmore than just the foresight of theconstructionengineers. Inessence, Philips was insisting on a guaranteed future level of performance of their equipment. Sietze Bremer, senior sourcing specialist for industry at Philips says: “We wanted to implement a future-oriented assembly concept. And with regard to the total investment, we wanted to feel certain that the equipment would still be able to economically produce shavers in ten years time, without knowingwhat that shaver of the future will look like.” Continuous flex- ibility was the goal.

first analyses, a systemconcept emerged that couldonlyworkon thebasisof extremelyflex- ibleautomationcomponentsfromonesource. Due to the multitude of assembly stations, a component mix of different manufacturers would have led to uncontrollable complexity. “Thus, we needed 6-axis robots, SCARA robots, vision systems, part feeders and con- trols – and everything from a single source. In this respect, we counted on Omron Adept, as its high-duty componentsmeet all require- ments andhadalreadyproved their efficiency in similar projects in the past.” The first item to address was how to achieve the highest levels of flexibility. Maximum automation flexibility was deliv- ered in three ways. First, the modular lay- out of the shavers consists of three main components that can be manufactured independently of one another on different production lines. The second important factor is the con- ceptualisation of the complete system, also basedonmodular principles. InDrachten, the three-head-shavers are currently assembled on a total of thirteen slitting lines, which each comprise five to eight cells. Each cell oper- ates autonomously and can be connected or disconnected according to the plug-&-play principle. The concept of smaller andmutually independentlineswithautonomouscellsdoes not only provide a flexibility booster, but it also results in maximum availability, because a blockage at one point only affects one of the lines. The rest of the system remains unaffected. When the integration of the new lines is complete, more than 200 robots and 70 Adept Anyfeeder systems will provide the frictionless assembly system for the shavers. This sets up the third critical flexibility fac-

“When synchronised with Cobra and Viper robots and AdeptSight vision guidance, the AnyFeeder system redefines what it means to be flexible in small-parts feeding applications,” Bremer says.

24 ¦ MechChem Africa • October 2017

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