A large appliance manufacturer contacted us with an application for loading dishwasher tubs on an assembly line. They needed to keep the loading cycle time very fast to keep up with the line and had written the spec around a robotic loader. The problem? An employee needed to perform a manual operation on the tubs but wouldn’t be able to if a guard enclosure was in place for the moving robot. Additionally, the pick location wouldn’t be consistent enough for a robot.
We noticed that the tub orientation on the WIP cart would allow us to design a tool to pick up two tubs at a time. This made our manipulator cycle time the same as a robot picking and placing one at a time. Because manipulators are manually operated, no special guard enclosure was required allowing the employee to easily perform his secondary operation. The operator could easily guide the manipulator tool to accommodate the variable WIP cart location.
As a bonus the manipulator was about 15% of the cost of a robot and requires no programming or complicated maintenance.