Automated injection molding
GEMÜ Gebr. Müller Apparatebau GmbH & Co. AG is a group of companies headquartered in Indelfingen, Germany. GEMÜ specializes in fittings for industrial applications. The Group currently has more than 1,900 employees worldwide. The company is represented in more than 50 countries by its network of subsidiaries and trading partners. GEMÜ is the international market leader in valve, process, and control technology for sterile processes.
Today, GEMÜ Switzerland can proudly call itself the “Headquarters of Plastics” within the GEMÜ Group. There are currently more than 100 employees at its Emmen location, where, in addition to medical technology products, GEMÜ also manufactures valve, measurement, and control systems.
BOSCH hired GEMÜ to carry out a large-volume project for COVID-19 rapid tests. As a result, GEMÜ had to automate as many process elements as possible in order to manufacture the tests cost-effectively and on time.
Robotec Solutions was awarded the contract for this challenging project thanks to its many years of experience in the automation of injection molding machines in clean rooms as well as its more than 600 integrated robots across all industries.
A total of seven different plastic parts are manufactured separately on two different injection molding machines. The parts are to be extracted automatically from the machines, subjected to a quality check, and then packaged and stacked in trays. Either 2 or 16 finished parts must be extracted and further processed per injection molding cycle with a cycle time of 12 seconds.
Our Engineering department worked together closely with GEMÜ to create two similar, highly flexible yet easy-to-operate systems. The challenge was to optimally utilize the little space available so that all of the necessary processes could be carried out. While the system was being developed, the required quantities increased several times over as the COVID-19 pandemic progressed; we were able to compensate for this shift during the development phase by adding another injection molding machine and two more robots. This change was implemented extremely quickly.
The result: two automation cells with three or five robots in the final expansion. Standardized gripper changing systems, high-resolution camera tests, an electrical rotary indexing table, clean-room-compliant conveyor belts, label printers, and a clever security system were all implemented in line with Industry 4.0. Both systems are nearly identical in terms of operation via the large touchscreen and can be converted from one product to the next in a matter of minutes. The change parts are mechanically and/or color coded and scanned by the software that was developed by Robotec Solutions so that the opportunities for user error have been reduced to the absolute minimum.
Despite the fact that the conditions changed multiple times during the course of the project, both systems were successfully implemented and the continually changing requirements were met. Thanks to Robotec Solutions’ flat hierarchy and the flexibility of its employees, it was even possible to implement some of the necessary changes over the weekend. All on behalf of the client.
- The automation system can switch between products in less than 10 minutes
- Networked production; central operation via HMI
- Complex vision inspection of the injection molded parts
- The systems have a high level of autonomy thanks to automatic tray handling
- Both systems have a very small footprint/require very little space in expensive clean rooms
- Everything from a single source: All of the processes (with the exception of injection molding) were implemented by Robotec Solutions and the entire periphery was integrated by Robotec Solutions; this meant GEMÜ had a single contact partner throughout the entire project