Flexible Robot Pushing Boundaries at Danfoss

Søren Peter Johansen

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Flexible Robot Pushing Boundaries at Danfoss

Flexible robots are increasingly gaining a foothold in manufacturing companies because of an increased demand for product variation, which in turn requires frequent changeovers in production.

As a part of the SMErobotics project, the Danish company Danfoss A/S recently concluded an “internship” with a flexible robot. The robot is currently assembling parts for frequency converters while its flexibility regarding movement and task adjustment is being tested.

- Danfoss products have a very high degree of variation, so the requirements for the flexibility of the robot solution is likewise high. For this solution, we use a collaborative robot that has the advantage of having built-in security functions. This means the robot can stand freely without protection screens, says Anders Billesø Beck, robot specialist and team leader from the Danish Technological Institute (DTI).

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Furthermore, the robot has integrated force control and the team integrated an advanced vision system, meaning that it has the toolbox required to be as flexible and productive as the human production workers.

The robot was created as a collaboration between Danfoss Drives, the Danish Technological Institute, and KUKA, and makes it possible for Danfoss employees to work together with it to create and assemble products. Danfoss Drives, the part of the Danfoss concern that manufactures frequency converters, is seeking new opportunities to optimize their production as a result of participating in the project.

- What we have gained from being in SMErobotics is that we have been able to play with the limits of automation in manufacturing. We always strive for higher productivity and a better work environment, and it now seems possible to automate processes which we traditionally thought were too difficult to pass on to machines. We can kill two birds with one stone by removing some of the hard manual labor while increasing productivity at the same time, says Peter Lund Andersen, Technology Engineer from Danfoss Drives.

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One important focus point of flexible robot solutions is that they have to be safe enough to work alongside production staff.

- What is new about this solution is that we have a complete robot setup with high flexibility in the areas of security, force control, sense of touch and vision. We also work with products that are placed on movable carts, says Anders Billesø Beck.

It is therefore necessary to accept a high degree of tolerance when it comes to item position, as the item can be found in various places during production. This is something manufacturers need to have in order to automate processes where the levels of tolerance were originally designed for human production staff. Things move – and here we demonstrate that the robot can cope with this.

In the video above, you can watch the robot in action at Danfoss’ production facility in Gråsten.

SMErobotics is a European robot initiative created to support and strengthen the competitiveness of small and medium sized companies by implementing robot technology into their production. The project is funded by the EU