Fujitsu Partners with Automation Leader KUKA to Pioneer Human-Robot Collaboration in Mainboard Handling and Testing
- A new co-creation project between Fujitsu and KUKA has resulted in a ground-breaking production line collaboration between humans and robots for the assembly of electronics components
- Robotic process automation is changing the way highly sensitive computer mainboards are manufactured, and has resulted in an Industry 4.0 solution to provide high-precision mainboard handling and testing
- On the production line, a sensitive KUKA robot works hand in hand with humans. The robot recognizes when humans are close and slows down its movements to ensure there is no danger of injury to human colleagues
- Robots are taught by a human worker via manual guidance of the robot arm, with each step embedded in the robot using machine learning
Industrial robots are well-established in various automation tasks. In this ground-breaking mainstream electronics implementation, human-robot collaboration includes the handling of delicate computer components: a task that was previously considered beyond the range of robotic automation. To make the approach more quickly available to other manufacturing companies, Fujitsu and KUKA have developed an Industry 4.0 robot-based process automation solution to provide high-precision mainboard handling and testing.
In this breakthrough deployment, robots assist human workers in an integrated process. Inside the Fujitsu factory, robots work alongside human colleagues instead of being restricted to separate, fenced-off areas. Robots can detect when humans are in the proximity, and slow down their movements to ensure there is no danger of injury to their human colleagues. The collaboration starts with a human worker teaching the robot required assembly steps by manual guidance of the robot arm. These steps are then embedded in the robot’s capabilities using machine learning – without any additional programming. Once instructed, humans leave the shared working spaces, allowing robots to operate behind virtual safety barriers, switching to high-speed mode to complete monotonous and repetitive tasks.
Vera Schneevoigt, Senior VP, Product Supply Operations at Fujitsu EMEIA, says: “As a manufacturer itself, Fujitsu has every incentive to lead the way in the most advanced techniques, not only to improve the efficiency of internal processes, but also to be able to offer those improvements to other manufacturers. This collaboration between Fujitsu and KUKA is a powerful example of how we are setting the pace, with human-robot collaboration an integral part of Industry 4.0. We are pioneering a new method of assembling precision electronics components that reduces the need for human operators to perform repetitive, mundane tasks, lowers the risk of potential manufacturing defects and raises production outputs.”
Dr. Bernd Liepert, Chief Innovation Officer at KUKA, says: “KUKA and Fujitsu have been working together in an example of true co-creation for about a year in the Augsburg Technology Park, to bring the advantages of human-robot collaboration to Fujitsu’s ultra-modern IT facility. This latest project requires a robot like the sensitive KUKA lightweight robot LBR iiwa that can handle the highly sensitive boards.”
To realize this visionary project, KUKA and Fujitsu engineers combined their Industry 4.0 expertise with process know-how. Following a successful pilot
, one of KUKA’s lightweight construction robots was fully integrated into Fujitsu’s mainboard production line in late January 2018, helping boost manufacturing efficiency, accuracy and quality. A second robot will be added in summer 2018.
Fujitsu and KUKA plan to add further capabilities such as data analytics to explore the potential of human-robot collaboration in areas such as predictive maintenance and quality control, as well as new possibilities for usage-based billing models.
Fujitsu solutions for Industry 4.0 and the digitalization of production environments can be seen at this year’s Hannover Messe, taking place from April 23-27, at Booth E16, Hall 07
Fujitsu is the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company, offering a full range of technology products, solutions, and services. Approximately 155,000 Fujitsu people support customers in more than 100 countries. We use our experience and the power of ICT to shape the future of society with our customers. Fujitsu Limited (TSE: 6702) reported consolidated revenues of 4.5 trillion yen (US $40 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017. For more information, please see http://www.fujitsu.com.
About Fujitsu EMEIA
Fujitsu promotes a Human Centric Intelligent Society, in which innovation is driven by the integration of people, information and infrastructure. In the Europe, Middle East, Africa and India region (EMEIA), our 28,000-strong workforce is committed to Digital Co-creation, blending business expertise with digital technology and creating new value with ecosystem partners and customers. We enable our customers to digitally transform with connected technology services, focused on Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, and Cloud - all underpinned by Security. For more information, please visit http://www.fujitsu.com/fts/about/
All other company or product names mentioned herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. Information provided in this press release is accurate at time of publication and is subject to change without advance notice.
Date: 12 April, 2018