«Robots are our life» - success story

«Robots are our life» - success story

Heart and soul, years of experience and know-how, but also the right technology from strong partners make the company successful. We are very happy about the great cooperation with our supplier SMC, whose quality products were used to implement this project in the pharmaceutical sector.

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English translation

«Robots are our life»

Robotics has been experiencing a boom time for some years: Processes are getting automized to become more productive and counteract the shortage of skilled professionals. Furthermore, robots are used in many fields and in the past few years their prices dropped significantly. Robotec Solutions AG, located in Seon in the canton of Aargau, is acting at the forefront of this development. Passion, years of experience and knowhow as well as the right technology from strong partners make this company successful.

Robotec Solutions AG develops customized robotic solutions for a diverse range of industries such as medical technology, chemical and pharmaceutical sector, logistics, and metal processing. The company was created in 1983 and has been a pioneer in robotic automation in Switzerland ever since. Upon entering the production hall in Seon, one feels the passion for robotics immediately. The first sentence of Nick Koch, managing director says it all: «Robots are our life.»  All around specialists are busy working on robotic arms and controllers or they are programming on the computer. The same is true for the most recent project for one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies of Switzerland. The task: To prepare syringes for self-treatment, called autoinjectors, for further assembly and filling. The challenge: For each injector only one and a half seconds are available.

The smallest pneumatic semi-rotary drive

As the injector parts arrive in blisters of seven rows, the whole procedure will take exactly 10,5 seconds. In that time the parts must be taken out of the blisters, rotated by 15 degrees, and finally transferred further on – all on a reduced space. One processing cell includes four robots, conveyor belts and additional devices. «This requires compact components, that we like to place directly on the robotic heads, » Kevin Bossard, project leader and designer at Robotec Solutions AG, explains. Seven miniature vacuum suction cups are assembled in series on the first robotic head, that grab the injector parts and transfer them to pneumatic semi-rotary drives. «The semi-rotary drives were an exceptional challenge. We searched the whole market and found the worldwide smallest one at our partner firm SMC, » Bossard says. After rotating the parts, they will be picked up again by vacuum suction cups and transferred to the next processing station. In addition to components being compact, Robotec also demands components with integrated functionality. For this reason, they relied on SMC for vacuum generation too: This is realized on a modular station (island) composed of vacuum ejectors, bus connection and surveillance – all in one product and easy to obtain and integrate into the machine.

Hidden Digitalization

What is not visible on the machine, is the whole digitalization – Industry 4.0. «Everything is hidden in the lower, sealed part, » managing director Koch points out. «Yet it is exactly these kinds of tasks such as wiring, programming logics and evaluating data that increased tremendously. » Because the pharmaceutical industry wants everything precisely documented, the effort for the current project was even higher: Different access rights on machines and a history of who changed the settings when and in what way. Robotec trains the necessary qualified personnel themselves and «additionally, we have specialists having over 25 years of experience in robotic programming, » project leader Kevin Bossard mentions proudly.

«We need strong partners»

However, nothing works without partners and suppliers Nick Koch confirms: «We are under enormous time pressure. Under these circumstances we are glad to rely on strong partners, such as SMC: The price is not our main criterium, we value good teamwork and reliability much more strongly. » Especially during times like these, with global shortness of supplies, this takes a new standing for many industrial companies. Designer Bossard particularly appreciates the local support and the vast product range at SMC: pneumatics, vacuum, sensor technology, electric drives, all from one hand. He already has ideas for the newest SMC product: It combines pneumatic valves and vacuum ejectors on a modular island with bus connector. Very well possible, that these soon will be discovered on one of the robots of Robotec Solutions.

 

 

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