IVAMAX is a privately-owned company for engineering and production of custom made devices and solutions. Among other activities the company assemblies different types of lights for airport signalisation. These lights are installed in runways, taxiways and other places with similar function.
Currently, the company performs assembly of two different types of airport signalization lights, with two new types under development. The company plans to introduce automation in order to improve quality and consistency, optimize costs, and allocate human resources to higher added value projects.
The use case in particular looks at the assembly process of two lights and aims to automate the process by the use of ReconCell. The two lights are depicted in Figure 1 and 2.The assembled part consists of aluminum casing, transparent prisms and silicone sealant.
The assembly process consists of inserting glass prisms into metal casing. Before insertion, a precise layer of silicon sealant must be applied onto specified surfaces of the prism. After one prisms is inserted, the procedure is repeated for a second prim. While the principle of the process itself is not complex, it involves a number of particularities that require attention.
Transparent prism have a complex shape and require notches for better fitting into casing.
Silicon must be applied in even and continuous manner to ensure watertight seal and should not be visible from the outside.
Defected metal casing parts need to be identified and sorted out.
The assembly task is being performed manually with two different types of lights. The production is in batches of 200-500 pieces per batch with irregular intervals, in accordance with the demand. Often it is required to reallocate a person from a concurrent project to perform assembly, as it is inefficient to employ a person to perform only the assembly tasks. Since IVAMAX strives for increasing their product line by implementing two further type of lights the automation of the process would increase throughput and ensure a continuously high-quality standard of their products.
Figure 1: Computer renders of product no. 1. Left: assembly position of prism; Right: cross section of assembly part.
Figure 2: Computer renders of product no. 2. Left: assembly position of prism; Right: cross section of assembly part.
Main Objectives of the Experiment
Irregular production intervals, variety in product types and small batches make standardized automation lines cost-ineffective and undesirable for IVAMAX. Through its reconfigurable components and fast setup technologies, ReconCell would bring numerous benefits and create new opportunities for the company to expand their production line, while providing high product quality and production on demand.
The Ivamax use case needed specially designed vice jaws to firmly grasp both casings, different grippers for both casings, and prism grippers, the latter being the most challenging. As the prisms need to be placed in a tight space, they needed to be grasped repeatably and in a way not to collide with the casings. The grippers designed for this use case grasp the prisms with two angular fingers in a repeatable and precise fashion. In order to position them inside the casing the fingers retract, while vacuum cups hold the prism in place.
The final output includes a workcell for the assembly of airport signalisation lights in a reconfigurable workcell. This workcell can be quickly adapted to new use cases by applying specially designed vice jaws, visual pose localization for new objects, and special grippers for positioning of objects in tight spaces.
With the implementation of ReconCell IVAMAX wants to:
Increase quality of production by automation of gluing process
Speed up the process of application and removal of excess sealant
Reduce the need of reallocation of human resources
Offer a new service with ReconCell in its production
The implementation of ReconCell will recude the amount of manual work down from 64 hours to 12 hours per batch, involving 2 workers instead of 8. Also it will have a reduction in changeover time and cost from €5,100 ro €3.100. The reduction in changeover gives a value creation of €2,000 per year. It will also have result in a increased capacity from 10 batches per year to 16 batches.
Lastly, it results in savings due to improvement in rejection rate and savings in silicon. It is assumed that the value per unit will be €15, with and without ReconCell and the rejection rate will be lower with ReconCell, 10% compared to 1%. Moreover, the cost of applied silicon is currently €1 without ReconCell, and it is estimated to drop to €0.3 by using ReconCell because better accuracy in applying the silicon is expected.
These four scenarios encompass benefits like improved product quality, lower product rejection rate, higher product value due to smaller product batches, shorter changeover time, more flexibility, reduced cost in building fixtures, etc. The yearly benefit by using ReconCell lowers at €59,788, and it has a payback time of 35 months.