Robotic automation: ABB walks the walk and talks the talk

Is it really a cliché if it is the truth; or is it just good business?

As Product Communications Manager for ABB Robotics I have an enviable life, visiting a lot of cool cities – some exotic, some not so exotic, around the world where I see our robots and automation solutions doing amazing things. Nothing is more exciting, though, then visiting an ABB facility where robotic automation is alive and well and improving production. As cliché as it may be, ABB is ‘walking the walk and talking the talk’.

Most recently, I was in the Czech Republic where YuMi®, the world’s first truly collaborative robot, is working side-by-side with a human counterpart at ABB’s Low Voltage Products plant, Elektro-Praga in Jablonec nad Nisou, on its socket lid assembly line. Thanks to its inherently safe design, our collaborative dual arm robot solution will ensure the safety of those around it and elevate the nature of work™ at the plant by performing repetitive tasks to perfection.

YuMi brings unique advantages to this assembly process including greater flexibility, improved quality, increased safety and better workplace ergonomics. Its outstanding features for collaborative small parts assembly is the perfect solution for Elektro-Praga which wanted an easy to use robotic solution capable of working side-by-side with humans on similar tasks.

YuMi is also utilizing connected services developed by ABB which monitor the robot during production and operation. The ability to monitor YuMi in this manner will increase its efficiency, reduces service costs, secure uptime and extend the robot’s lifetime. Thanks to these diagnostic technologies a once reactive approach to fleet management is being replaced by a predictive, proactive, and immediate one. Prior to the advent of the Internet of Things Services and People, robots were maintained according to a schedule.

Elektro-Praga estimates that its ROI for YuMi will be approximately 2.5 years. When calculating the RIO, plant managers took a variety of factors into consideration not the least of which was Health & Safety. Elektro-Praga made its investment to increase quality and productivity as well as to assist in repetitive tasks and to improve employee working conditions and reduce related health costs. Training expenses for staff are minimal because the learning curve is fast and simple and no technical knowledge is needed to run the robot.

Elektro-Praga is just one example where YuMi has been deployed at an ABB factory. In Västerås, Sweden, YuMi is assembling an average of 500 switch blocks an hour versus 350 without YuMi at ABB AB, Electrification Products, Control Products.

In Finland, YuMi was successfully deployed at another ABB Low Voltage Products facility. Two YuMis and two ABB factory employee assembled tens of thousands of emergency stop switches and double sockets.  The teams assembled 10 parts in just over 3.5 minutes. This in-house installation clearly demonstrates that highly flexible production can be adapted to different lot sizes. One YuMi worked on the manufacturing floor doubling the rate of production while a second one was employed in the final assembly and packaging area. Both YuMis successfully coordinated their tasks with their human coworkers to create an agile product environment, at a low rate of investment.

So, if it is even the slightest bit cliché to say that ABB ‘walks the walk and talks the talk’, I think I am ok with it; it’s the unarguable truth.

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About the author

Nicole Salas

I'm the Product Communications Manager for ABB Robotics globally. I joined ABB in 2007, working for corporate communications in the United States before joining Robotics in 2013. I began my career as a journalist in Caracas, Venezuela and have worked for United Rentals Inc. as well as several international public and investor relations agencies. Outside of the office, you will find me racing sailboats.
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