Improving Cycle Time with Veo FreeMove — Veo Robotics

By Alberto Moel (Vice President Strategy and Partnerships)

Welcome back, dear reader, to one more installment of the Veo Robotics blog. In our previous edition, we laid out a general model of human-robot collaboration driven by the manufacturing application’s process cycle time[1] and the frequency of human interaction. 

In our model, the design and operation of the application will determine how and how often the human and robot will collaborate. At one extreme, there is no collaboration, and the application runs unattended[2] throughout the operating cycle. At the other end, human interactions can occur multiple times a cycle, as in a parts presentation for assembly application. We concluded that the shorter the cycle time and the more frequent the required human interaction the more collaborative the application.    

If we could optimize this interaction time, we would improve the efficiency of the human-robot collaboration, lowering production costs and enhancing manufacturing economics. In today’s post we will quantify (through a simple case study) how the economic benefits of Veo FreeMove increase with the application’s degree of collaboration; in other words, the more you need humans in your process, the more Veo FreeMove can improve the economics of your application. And as we show in Figure 5, the incremental production rates enabled by Veo FreeMove can be quite large.       

The case study – original configuration 

A parts manufacturer was looking to improve the productivity of a machine tending workcell through better human-robot collaboration. The workcell was designed for an industrial robot to move the front panels of a circuit breaker to and from a laser cutting machine, a typical metal fabrication operation.

In this process flow, a human brought in a pallet rack of unprocessed parts to be laser cut, then the robot picked up a part from the pallet rack, inspected it, and if it passed QC, loaded it into the laser cutter. Defective parts were dropped on a separate pallet. When the laser cutting was finished, the robot unloaded the part and placed it on an output pallet for the human worker to withdraw when full. 

As shown in Figure 1, the robot had access to five pallet racks for unloading materials and loading parts: the two on the left for raw materials, the two on the right for the finished parts, and the center pallet rack for defective parts. Full or empty pallets were replaced by the human operator as required.

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