The manufacturing industry is observing great changes in these years. Its radical evolution is due to the growing demand of the market, accompanied with an increase of variety. Both these characteristics force us to gain more flexibility, accuracy and efficiency in our production departments, together with a continuous cost reduction.
The industrial manufacturing applications have seen the introduction of a new category of robots – collaborative robots (or “cobots”) – designed to physically interact with humans in a shared environment, without the typical barriers or protective cages used in traditional robotic systems.
Our vision in Cembre S.p.A. is to take advantage from cobots and from the smart manufacturing as a whole in order to increase the service rate and improve the worker’s ergonomics. We think that human-robot collaboration (HRC) is prime for increasing both these factors and that Sharework EU project is fundamental for developing more knowledge about HRC, helping filling the gap between the robotic and the human worlds.
Cembre could have gone to full shop floor automation but we would have lost human flexibility. Collaborative robots provide a half way solution between the human and robotics world
The introduction of collaborative robotics in advanced machine tending
Cembre S.p.A., based in Brescia (Italy), is always eager to employ new methods or technologies that can support the development and the improvement of its entire production system. For this reason, the company constantly collaborates with universities, start-ups, research centres and others associations.
The Sharework project perfectly fits in this approach, since it will be pioneering in the employment of HRC using collaborative robots within manufacturing systems and, in general, in industrial operations.
The objectives we want to achieve are many.
- Gain flexibility in managing the machining of a large variety of parts without the need to develop expensive equipment and plan a long training for every new product that enters the shop floor.
- Employ our operators in more value-added tasks, such as inspections and process optimisation, and move non-value-added activities and repetitive task, such as motion or transportation, to the cobots.
- Increase operators’ ergonomics, which itself is one of our primary targets together with operator’s welfare and satisfaction. These latter should increase because the skills required to an operator will be brought to a higher level thus improving the interest for the job inside machining shop floor.
- In the long term, once the complete system will be deployed on the whole shop floor, we also expect a decrease in lead-time and quality losses.
Sharework project deployment at Cembre’s plant
We are currently implementing the Sharework project in the machining shop floor located in Brescia’s plant: production engineers, human resources and operators are all engaged. Most of them are new to this kind of projects and these technologies, aspects that makes Sharework especially challenging for the company. Regarding this, the contributions of the CNR, the Italian research centre, and of MCM, our technologic partner, are very important to us.
The role of people is fundamental to create deep connections between working conditions and technologies. In fact, one of the main challenges for the future is to understand how this new paradigm for the manufacturing systems could generate benefits to the entire production chain. Who if not humans could imagine this?
Dr. Andrea Rossi
Industrialization Manager at Cembre S.p.A., working on project management and products and process analysis. Graduated at University of Brescia as Mechanical Engineer
Dr. Piervincenzo Tavormina
Industrialization Assistant at Cembre S.p.A., working on robotics and process control. Graduated at University of Brescia as Industrial Automation Engineer.