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SUS Corporation, a Japanese supplier of aluminum frames and die-cast aluminum components for the automotive industry, has deployed a series of ABB’s YuMi dual-armed collaborative robots. SUS Corporation says that ABB’s robots are enabling it to reshore its production and address challenges presented by workforce shortages.
ABB’s dual-arm YuMi, the IRB 14000, is part of ABB’s YuMi line of robots that the Zurich-based company introduced in 2015. Each arm has 7 axes, and ABB says it designed the system specifically for manufacturing industries. It has a reach of around 1.8 ft (.56 m), and can lift up to 83.8 lbs (38 kg).
SUS Corporation sought out an automation supplier to help it return to domestic production in Shizuoka, Japan. The company says that reshoring will help it to better deal with disruptions to the global supply chain in recent years. The repetitive nature of the production process, paired with mounting labor shortages, has made it difficult for SUS Corporation to recruit and retain sufficient workers.
“Reshoring is increasingly viewed as a way to address the challenges of disruptive supply chains and uncertainty, but it can introduce complexities of its own,” Joerg Reger, managing director of ABB Robotics Automotive Business Line, said. “Our range of flexible automation solutions can help resolve these, and we’re delighted to see that SUS is benefiting from significant time-savings, enhanced production efficiency, and the ability to quickly adapt to changing supply scenarios. This demonstrates how automation is no longer the preserve of large OEMs alone.”
The effects of the YuMi robots
Since implementing the YuMi robots, SUS Corporation has seen a reduction in assembly time and increased productivity by 20%. Additionally, the YuMi cobots have increased flexibility in response to fluctuations in demand. SUS Corporation expects to achieve a payback on its investment within two years.
“The robots have taken on monotonous, repetitive jobs, enabling workers to be reassigned to more rewarding tasks such as operation management. The new system has also made it possible to operate at night with fewer workers, with the number of dedicated assembly machines in operation reduced from 11 to five,” Akihiro Taki, team manager of the die-casting team at SUS Corporation’s Shizuoka site, said.
ABB developed the automated system using its RobotStudio simulation software. The company used RobotStudio to design and optimize the operation in a virtual space ahead of deployment in the real world.
RobotStudio verified that YuMi’s seven axes of movement per arm were capable of replicating the complex twisting actions needed during the assembly process. Its accurate calculations for achievable production volumes also made it easy for SUS Corporation to make informed decisions about its investment.
SUS Corporation is now investigating adding further cells for other products and automating other processes.
In September, ABB announced it will invest $280 million in a new robotics campus in Västerås, Sweden that will serve as the hub for ABB Robotics’ offerings in Europe. ABB plans to start construction on the new campus in the first quarter of 2024 and be completed by the end of 2026. This new facility will increase ABB’s manufacturing capacity for its collaborative and industrial robot arms by 50% and enable it to better serve the European market.