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Post at 29 Aug 2017

An addition of four robotic arms to the BJ-Gear staff has increased productivity and strengthened the company’s competitiveness. Much leaner processes with no human intervention mean that employees can now tend to more tasks at once – just as automation has resulted in more uniform high quality work pieces.

Challenge

For BJ-Gear, a world-leading manufacturer of gear solutions, the only way to strengthen competitiveness and maintain production in Denmark is to optimize and automate in every possible way.

“Our goal is to carry out as much of the process and production as possible without any human interaction – from raw product to finished work piece”, says Bjørn Sommer, Plant Manager at BJ-Gear. He has worked with lean enterprise for 15 years and was brought into the company in 2005 to head the construction of an entirely new optimised factory.

The company was, however, reluctant to acquire robots because existing solutions were so costly that the payback time would be far too long to make sense.

Solutions

Universal Robots changed BJ-Gear’s perception of robot technology completely.

“The flexible lightweight robots – the UR 5 and UR 10 – are so reasonable in price that they pay off in no time. Our calculations show that the cost for a UR robot will be covered in less than one year”, says Bjørn Sommer.

So far, four UR robots technology solutions have been implemented in BJ-Gear’s production. One of these is a UR 5 that is fitted with an ordinary spray gun and used to paint preassembled gears. Automating this process step has created a more uniform high quality of the paintwork and has also freed one employee completely to attend to other tasks. The working environment also benefits from the UR 5 as employees now spend less time in the paint booth.

At the moment BJ-Gear only sends one production series at a time through the paint application but Bjørn Sommer expects them to be able to paint work pieces in random order very soon: “Fixing a chip on the gear defining the specific paint program will enable a scanner to send a message to the UR 5 with information about which program to initiate and which colour to use. This will strengthen the production flow and shorten delivery times”.

The other two UR 5 robots have modernised and automated old machinery in BJ-Gear’s production. One robot has fully automated the process of deburring and stamping gear wheels and finished work pieces for further assembly. The other multitasks at three machines at once – a lathe, a cutter and a washing machine – allowing BJ-Gear to produce 100 pieces at a time without human intervention.

The UR 10 is the most recent addition to BJ-Gear’s team. It is used for automating processes with work pieces that weigh more than 5 kilos.

“The automated solutions have increased both productivity and flexibility at our gear manufacturing company. Thanks to the robots we have been able to create growth without having to employ additional staff which have strengthened our competitiveness”, says Bjørn Sommer.

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