When automation needs a sensitive touch

When automation needs a sensitive touch

Haptic force/torque sensors offer companies the opportunity to increase their production efficiency in many areas of application to a significant degree. They open up brand-new potential for automation, especially in the refinement of delicate surfaces, packaging, precision assembly, and quality control.

 

The success story of industrial robots started in Germany in the 70’s, when the automobile industry started to use them on a large scale to automate standard processes. Today, decades later, robots are often more compact than back then, and no longer need a protective cage. They work side by side with people every day, and are absolutely essential for production companies.

 

Whether metal processing or the plastic industry, whether a large company or a three-man shop, monotonous routine tasks can be automated nearly everywhere, while employees focus on more demanding steps.

 

However, many industrial work steps require a fine sense of touch and are still a particular challenge for automation. To harness this potential, robot arms must come closer to the capabilities of the human hand.

 

Making that possible is OptoForce’s goal. This Hungarian company’s HEX-E and HEX-H haptic sensors give robot arms a fine sense of touch, allowing them to adapt their movements independently at any time, based on force and torque measurements. This opens new applications for industrial automation, in which lightweight robots have only played a minor role until now – for example

  • Processing of certain surfaces
  • Packaging processes
  • Precision assembly
  • Quality control

But why is a sense of touch even required to automate this kind of process? Why can’t a conventional robot arm always suffice to automate work steps? The reasons are actually quite diverse, depending on the application.

Sensitivity for sensitive surfaces

  • In the area of surface refinement, the primary reason is simply the properties of the material itself. The materials to be processed are, for example, often soft, elastic, or flexible, and therefore require a highly sensitive process.

If this process is not carried out sensitively, damage to the material and therefore expensive manufacturing errors are inevitable.

 

Robot arms have long lacked the sensitive touch needed for this type of process – which is why they are often still done manually. Six-axis force/torque sensors, such as those from OptoForce, represent a future-ready solution to your automation.

 

  • Another task representing a certain level of challenge in automation is finishing glossy surfaces, using processes such as polishing. Image process systems can barely be used. The shiny surface confuses their perception and they quickly hit their limits. Extending the robot system with a sense of touch is also the smarter approach in this type of process.

 

Pick-and-place in unstructured environments

 

Another application for six-axis force/torque sensors is pick-and-place applications. In these tasks, it is not always the case that the workpieces are equally suitable or even that they need to be moved between fixed positions.

 

Irregular workpieces and unstructured environments are continually an issue, sometimes simply due to the increasing level of individualization in production.

 

  • New challenges such as these make it essential for industrial robots to be capable of “feeling their way”, measuring the slightest resistance in the process. Example applications in which pick-and-place tasks require a sense of touch are things like accurately positioning a workpiece in a box, or stacking parts. This type of application is typically and primarily found in the packaging industry.

High-precision assembly

  • Precision assembly is another industrial area which currently makes use of a lot of manual work. That’s because these work steps require precise responsiveness in the millimeter scale – every bit of excess or insufficient force can lead to manufacturing errors or material damage, and the costs can mount up quickly.

 

The advantages of automation are however no longer something inaccessible. Thanks to technological progress, industrial robots can be made capable today of automating even precision assembly processes with the highest precision and sensitivity.

 

The electronics industry in particular can benefit massively in this area from the use of advanced force/torque sensors.

Automated quality control

Quality control, another typical area of application for OptoForce force/torque sensors, is relevant to every industry in a sense.

  • In a globalized world, competition is increasing, and customers have increasingly demanding requirements – and they can get them, due to the increasing variety of offers.

 

For companies, this means that the quality control factor is becoming massively more important.

 

Manufacturing errors that make it to the end customer can no longer be tolerated. They must be identified beforehand. Processes in quality control that involve the measurement of forces can be automated cost-effectively using haptic sensors – the testing of plug connections, for example.

 

Simple integration ensures rapid automation advantages

 

The HEX-E and HEX-H sensors from OptoForce have a particularly valuable property, both for integrators and for end users: they come with an extensive software package preprogrammed with a variety of standard industrial applications – such as polishing, palletizing, stacking, inserting connectors or pins, and many more. For the surface processing, pick-and-place, assembly, and quality control applications mentioned above, this intuitively designed software can allow commissioning in less than 15 minutes.

Companies of any size can therefore benefit from a short integration time and thus rapid amortization – and can automate new areas without it taking a great deal of time or effort.

 

Privacy Policy for processing and protecting personal data

This data protection policy applies to OnRobot.

The purpose of the policy is to ensure and document that OnRobot protects personal data in accordance with the rules for processing of personal data. The policy will also contribute to OnRobot providing information about its processing and use of registered personal data.

The policy will be reviewed each year.

Record of the processing of personal data

OnRobot processes personal data about:

  • Employees

  • Customers

  • Suppliers

  • Applicants

OnRobot has prepared a record of the processing of personal data. The record provides an overview of the processing for which OnRobot is responsible.

The personal data must be provided in order for OnRobot to enter into employment, customer and supplier contracts.

Purpose and lawfulness of the processing

Personal data are processed and archived in connection with:

  • HR management, including recruitment, hiring, dismissal and payment of salary

  • Master data for customers as well as orders and sales

  • Master data for suppliers as well as requisition forms and purchases

  • Contracts

Processing is legal by the authority specified in the appended record.

OnRobot does not use the personal data for purposes other than those listed. OnRobot does not collect more personal data than necessary to meet the purpose. 

Storage and erasure

OnRobot has introduced the following overall guidelines for storage and erasure of personal data:

  • Personal data are stored in physical folders.

  • Personal data are stored in IT systems and on server drives.

  • Personal data are not stored for longer than necessary to meet the purpose of the processing.

  • Personal data for employees are erased five years after employment has ended, and personal data about applicants are erased after six months.

Data security

Based on the appended risk assessment, OnRobot has implemented security measures to protect personal data:

  • Only employees with a work-related need to access the registered personal data have access to the data, either physically or via IT systems with rights management.

  • All computers are password protected and employees may not disclose their passwords to others.

  • Computers must have firewall and antivirus software installed, which must be updated regularly.

  • Personal data are erased securely in connection with phasing-out and repair of IT equipment.

  • USB flash drives, external hard disks, etc. containing personal data must be stored in a locked drawer or cabinet.

  • Physical folders are placed in a locked office or in locked cabinets.

  • Personal data in physical folders are erased by shredding.

  • All employees must be instructed in what to do with personal data and how to protect personal data.

 

Website and Cookie

  • The Personal Data Regulation allows you to treat personal data only legally for the purpose for which they have been collected. If you want to use data for purposes other than the original, you must always have the consent of the registrant.

  • Upon receipt of a business card from a customer you have his consent. If you write his information you need his signature on this paper to have a formal requirement for consent if you want to use his information. Then the customer allows OnRobot to use his data for purposes other than communication, upcoming promotions, product updates or further news including upcoming promotions, product updates and further news.

  • According to the Cookie Act, OnRobot must have the user’s consent to use this software on the user’s equipment. On The company’s intranet or similar closed group, the rules in the E-data protection directive do not apply.

Disclosure

Personal data about employees may be disclosed to public authorities such as the Danish Customs and Tax Administration and pension companies.

Processors

OnRobot only uses processors if they are able to provide the required guarantees that they will implement appropriate technical and organisational security measures to comply with personal data law. All processors must sign a processor agreement before processing commences.

Rights                                                                      

OnRobot safeguards the rights of data subjects, including the right to access, withdrawal of consent, rectification and erasure and will inform the data subjects of OnRobot’s processing of personal data. Data subjects are also entitled to appeal to the Danish Data Protection Agency.

Personal data breach

In case of personal data breach, OnRobot will report the breach to the Danish Data Protection Agency as soon as possible and within 72 hours. The manager is responsible for this reporting taking place. The report will outline the breach, the groups of persons affected and the impact the breach may have on these persons and how OnRobot has remedied or intends to remedy the breach. If the breach entails a high risk for the persons about whom OnRobot processes personal data, OnRobot will also notify these persons. OnRobot s will document any personal data breach on an access-controlled drive.

Erasure of data

The customer should assess when personal data need to be erased by asking the question:

When is it no longer necessary to store the personal data?

OnRobot follows the practice of the Danish Data Protection Agency:

Applications Are erased after 6 months in connection with job interviews. Unsolicited applications are erased immediately.
Employee data Are erased 5 years after termination of employment.
CCTV surveillance Is erased after 30 days.
Telephone conversations Are erased immediately or after up to 3 months.
Accounting records Must be stored for 5 years from the end of the financial year.


 

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How to Grow your Business with Collaborative Applications
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