Automation company ABB has begun the introduction of its FlexLoader to the South African market.
The FlexLoader, which is the next generation of machine tools, contains tending cells that are designed to feed machines and automate the handling of workpieces in production.
The technology has been developed in response to a trend in the industry for a shorter installation time, which requires standardised automation, explains ABB robotics sales specialist Hennie Cilliers.
He mentions that the technology, still new to the South African market, aims to assist industry in making a seamless transition to Industry 4.0.
Cilliers says the introduction of the technology locally also involves ABB’s approaching various key clients in a range of sectors. Responses to date have indicated a high level of interest, which bodes well for the eventual acceptance of this technology, he adds.
Depending on requirements, the FlexLoader can be assembled in 14 weeks at ABB’s headquarters, in Sweden, and shipped within six weeks.
ABB South Africa provides full aftermarket and technical support, including its Robot Studio simulation tool, whereby an entire solution package can be simulated on a laptop before being downloaded to the machine in question.
The demand for more intelligent and flexible robotic automation for machine-tool tending is a growing trend. All cells in the ABB FlexLoader range are standardised and built using the latest technology to meet the increasing requirements for flexible and cost-effective production.
The control and communications with a robot are integrated into the software, providing a simple and intuitive programming experience when introducing new workpieces to a system.
This makes ABB FlexLoader one of the most flexible systems on the market, but also one of the easiest-to-use operator interfaces: “Setting up a new workpiece is now possible in less than ten minutes, an unprecedented benchmark in this sector,” notes Cilliers.
He explains that the ABB FlexLoader can be connected to a range of smart devices available from ABB to ensure that it provides the customer with oversight on a machine’s operations, which can range from production statistics and advanced problem-solving to trend prediction such as potential motor failure.
It has the FlexLoader Vision software installed on an industrial Windows portable computer (PC), which a customer receives with the installation.
In addition, it also includes a vision sensor that can either be a two-dimensional camera lens or a three-dimensional sensor, depending on the application.
An industrial PC is a computer intended for industrial purposes, with a form factor between a nettop and a server rack. Industrial PCs have higher dependability and precision standards and are generally more expensive than consumer electronics.