SMEW Textile Machinery has been into textile machine manufacturing since 1958. It started off as a small family business, which has flourished in Ahmedabad for over 50 years now. They manufacture machines for soft package winding, rewinding and customised machines for winding.
To keep up with the latest technological advancements in the market, SMEW Textile Machinery collaborated with Universal Robots and deployed their first UR10 robotic arm in January 2017. The UR cobots were used for their pick and place application, which was a new addition to the workforce. However, the simplicity and operator-friendly features of the cobots made the completion of tasks easier and faster.
Increasing production capabilities
SMEW has a shop area of 30,000 sq ft with an in-house production of critical parts such as grooved winding drums. The shop area consists of in-house welding, powder coating and assembling facilities. The production facility also has CNC machines for parts and drum manufacturing. Additionally, CAD/ CAM systems along with high quality Japanese CNC machines are also used for manufacturing of highly reliable and consistent parts. For an exhaustive 24-hour production, SMEW has deployed the UR10 by Universal Robots. This has enabled them to continue unmanned production after factory working hours.
Further, there has been a growing need for precision, efficiency, boost in the quantity produced and better quality products. The robotic arms provide assistance with these needs as they are designed to mass produce goods of a certain standard of quality. Thus, the incorporation of cobots in the Indian manufacturing industry can help in meeting the market requirement, while keeping up with quality.
After the addition of the cobot to their manufacturing, SMEW realised that their production had increased from 30 pieces per week to 80-90 pieces per week—a 300% boost in production achieved over a brief period of 8 months. The staff, too, was satisfied with their new co-worker as the cobot was easy to program according to their requirements and they enjoyed working alongside the robots.
The concept of human-robot collaboration means bringing together the best of both worlds. In this set-up, humans and robots end up doing what they are best at. One compensates for the weaknesses of the other and vice versa. These tasks are often monotonous, like tightening bolts or machine tending, or ergonomically disadvantageous and repetitive activities, such as, the manual cutting of certain components. Furthermore, these jobs often require the same constant speed and precision to guarantee a smooth production process and satisfactory product quality.
Not only are humans generally overqualified for tasks like that, but they are also potentially at a disadvantage compared to robots with regards to speed and precision. Collaborative robots, thus, take over repetitive, monotonous, ergonomically disadvantageous or even potentially dangerous tasks, thus allowing workers to pursue more creative and demanding jobs.
Affordable automation solutions
Flexibility, ease-of-use and easy programming are the most important criteria that robots should fulfil to help businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, to meet future production challenges. Universal Robots’ UR3, UR5 und UR10, bring all necessary qualities to make automation for companies of all sized and industries successful. The ROI period for collaborative robots is within a year of deployment. Thus, they are not only cost-efficient and flexible but can also be programmed easily and intuitively.
For manufacturing companies, collaborative lightweight robots are the new, economic alternative to expensive, traditional industrial robots. They make automation affordable and thus, are a realistic choice, especially for small and medium sized enterprises, as they form the base of the Indian manufacturing industry. They can be handled and programmed intuitively, require very little space and allow for an easy and fast implementation everywhere. The cobots are flexible, mobile tools that can be retooled for different tasks within the manufacturing process and downtime is reduced to a minimum. Therefore, cobots are ideally suited for companies, which produce a wide range of products and small lot sizes.
Emphasising further on this, Ashish Nagarsheth, MD, SMEW Textile Machinery, said, “The simplicity and the non-fencing requirement met our requirements specifically for these machines. Our operators find it very easy to use. The safety features are extremely important and the +/- 360° movement helps the robot to work in a constrained space. We hope to have a long-term relationship with Universal Robots.”
Revolutionising the traditional mindset
India has seen a socio-culturally tuned textile manufacturing industry. The advent of automation and use of robots in manufacturing has disrupted the industry and revolutionised the traditional mindset. It has not only increased production but also productivity of the workforce and the quality of production. The manufacturing industry will see a larger adoption of collaborative robots as the industry is warming up to the concept of human-robot collaboration in the workplace.