- Innovation Award
Self-Driving Robotic Arm
Posted by OTTO Motors (booth # B3975)
Summary of Innovation
Manufacturers are seeking to automate more of their production processes to reduce their long-term dependency on hard-to-find labour and reallocate their skilled staff to value-added work. Industrial self-driving vehicles paired with capable robotic arms is a significant innovation that unlocks tremendous potential to automate tasks that previously could not be automated.
HIROTEC America, a Tier 1 Parts and Equipment Supplier to Automotive OEMs such as GM, Ford, Toyota, and BMW, pursued a partnership with OTTO Motors to advance their strategic pursuit of 24/7 lights-out manufacturing (fully automated manufacturing). At HIROTEC America, a dual arm robot is mounted to an OTTO self-driving vehicle to perform a specific task in the production process. OTTO receives a job request from HIROTEC's production system, then autonomously navigates through their facility while avoiding obstacles and people to the workstation. Once at the workstation, OTTO positions itself so that the robotic arm can perform the process. Once finished OTTO transports the part to the next stage in the process. “HIROTEC is always looking for the next technology that is going to take over the industry,” noted Gary Krus, VP of Business Development at HIROTEC AMERICA. “We started by looking for a platform that could make a dual-arm manipulator into a fully mobile manipulation solution. By using the OTTO 1500 with the integrated Yaskawa Motoman manipulator, we have the technology to replicate human labor. OTTO lets us test and prepare future systems to meet our corporate goals of zero operators for spare parts,” added Krus.
Robotic arms have always been stationary in manufacturing environments meaning that production lines need to be designed around these arms, limiting the ROI potential by automating only a very specific task and making it costly and time consuming to changeover and adapt to changes, such as new car models and new customers. Making a robotic arm mobile with self-driving vehicle technology means that the capital expenditure into a robotic arm can be amortized over more processes by automating many discrete tasks in physically separate locations. As an example, instead of requiring one robotic arm for each automated work cell in a plant, a single arm mounted to OTTO can serve many work cells, which reduces costs and increases equipment utilization to improve both margin and throughput.
Automating redundant and manual tasks is beneficial because employees can focus their time on value-added work that is best performed by a person, while leaving redundant and potentially dangerous work to automation.
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