Collaborative robots double production in limited floor space

Cobots and grippers work with existing human staff to boost volume and quality for precision manufacturer.
By · January 18, 2018

Beyerdynamic is a German audio equipment leader that embarked one year ago on a plan to increase factory floor productivity by 50% on a four-year plan. This had to be done in the same production space, without compromising the brand’s quality standards. Using a series of collaborative robots, the company has already significantly boosted volume and quality.

One of the first processes the company targeted is a glue-spraying application. Speakers used in the headphones need to be refined acoustically by applying a medium, which was previously done manually. The process is naturally not safe or stable, and the new robots (Universal Robots) have addressed those fluctuations.

The robot tasks are split into two categories: handling and spraying, each of which required specific end effectors. The handling process needed a gripper to pick up the speaker, right after it’s precisely welded by a specialized worker, and place it on one of two fixtures in the spraying area. The gripper (Robotiq) has two fingers and also features a camera.

“The camera solves the problem every manufacturer in the world has, which is picking up parts that are not in the same position,” says manufacturing engineer Jörg Lang. “The gripper comes fully integrated with the software and the programming environment, so I don’t have to come up with coordinates in my head. I can work directly with an item and in the worst-case scenario, I can guide the robot manually and take it where I need it to be. This way, we are able to teach our application in a really short time.”

A second robot, equipped with a spraying end effector, applies the medium to one of the two speaker-holding fixtures. The gripping robot then places the sprayed speaker in a tray that can hold 20. The same robot also offloads full trays and stages empty ones. Lang says the cobots, along with the same three workers at that station, have achieved a 50% increase in volume with a simultaneous increase in quality.

Gülhan Boz is one of the precision welders who hands the speaker to the cobots, named Jonathan and Fritzchen. “We get along with the robots pretty well,” Boz says. “If there is an issue, we are able to repair them ourselves and power them back up again. They are really quite easy to handle. And, it really works.”

About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.