Eliminating a Problem for Our Client’s Customers
Responding to feedback is an essential aspect of providing superior customer service. Our client was receiving an overwhelming number of customer calls regarding the protective film used to cover many of their products. This is how ACRO helped to resolve the problem:
Processes: The processes included robotic material handling, precision film scoring and flexible manufacturing.
Industry: Appliance Manufacturing
Company Background The client is the largest major appliance manufacturer in the world, marketing their products under roughly 12 brand names in nearly every country throughout the world.
Challenge: The customer was being bombarded with service calls to remove pieces of the protective film that covered the exterior surface of their various appliances. When the owner attempted to remove the film, it would tear unevenly along handles, hinges and trim lines. This left behind an unsightly remnant of unwanted plastic. The aesthetically displeasing issue prompted many customers to register complaints with the company, and service technicians were called out to correct the problem. The correction process involved disassembling the appliances, removing the fringes of plastic that remained and reassembling the products. The customer wanted to investigate the possibility of cutting the film before the sheet metal panels were formed. Because it was important that the surface finish of the coated panel not be affected, this task proved to be incredibly challenging.
Assessment: Since the surface finish of the panels was too critical to risk any potential damage, cutting the film was not an option. Extensive testing was conducted to find a potential solution. If it would create a perfect shear line that allowed it to tear cleanly, the process of precision scoring was an option.
The design team within ACRO’s Automated Solutions Group (ASG) partnered with a European company that builds high speed sheet-cutting systems for the print industry. By working collaboratively, the two groups defined a process that would cut through exactly 70 percent of the film’s thickness. This would create a reliable shear line that would now tear away cleanly. The following steps allowed our team took to accomplish the client’s objective:
- The process would need to be almost fully automated to meet the customer’s manufacturing demands. The ASG team designed and built a dual robot cell that allows continuous operation with concurrent loading and unloading processes.
- The load robot de-stacks metal sheets from a pallet, squares them and places them on the table for scoring.
- A vision system records a sheet’s exact position and feeds that data to the cutter.
- To ensure that the scoring lines are where they need to be, the control system makes the necessary changes to the cut profile.
- Once the scoring process is complete, the unload robot removes the item and places it onto a finished parts pallet. The process is completed in less than 15 seconds.
- In order to provide highly flexible batch manufacturing, the cell’s control system is programmed with dozens of part sizes and scoring profiles.
The Final Result
The cell was a success for the client. The process eliminated the constant service calls for film removal, and it is now providing scored parts to multiple downstream manufacturing lines. The client’s need was so great that three cells were purchased, and they are currently making parts seven days per week.
Finding Customized Solutions
The ACRO team takes pride in customizing automation solutions to fit the circumstances of our clients. Whether you require a new or modified system to meet your customers’ demands, we look forward to providing the answers you seek.