More flexibility, workplace safety and productivity for SMEs

Meeting the high volume of orders, protecting the health of the team, and increasing job satisfaction all at once - this is made possible by a new automation solution with the KR QUANTEC. It can be found at the medium-sized company Robert Plersch Edelstahltechnik GmbH in Hawangen in Allgäu. Thomas Magnussen from the integrator SHL AG presents it.


At Robert Plersch Edelstahltechnik GmbH, everything revolves around sheet metal. Whether steel, stainless steel or aluminum, laser cutting, CNC edging or grinding, the 100 or so employees rise to the challenge. For the final processing step, grinding the weld seams, the company was looking for active support and found it with the help of KUKA system partner SHL AG. "The customer said I have components, want to machine their weld seams and can't find any employees," recalls Thomas Magnussen, Head of Sales & Marketing at SHL. "He needed an automation solution that could handle small batch sizes and process a variety of products."


The suitable robot was quickly identified: a KR 120 from the KR QUANTEC series. Resilient enough even for large components, it can both grind off weld seams and ensure flawlessly smooth surfaces, and also guide workpieces to machines which finish the sheet metal surfaces.

One of the arguments in favor of the automation solution was that it assured the team at Robert Plersch Edelstahltechnik GmbH of improved health protection. Magnussen explains, "In the past, carcinogenic stainless steel dusts were a big issue in this industry. You often had to work with protective technology, personal protective equipment and sometimes respirators. In addition, there was the issue of mechanical stress. If you have to hold an angle grinder for eight hours a day, you run the risk of tendinitis, muscle strain and more." With robot-based solutions - with or without special extraction systems, depending on the design - the breathing air is clean, work is safe without protective clothing, and ergonomic work is more feasible.

After only six months, Georg Plersch was able to put the new system into operation. Currently, most of the orders are tool-guided. Magnussen explains: "An employee inserts each component into the robot cell. There it is fixed in place, for example with screw clamps. The KR QUANTEC measures it with an ultrasonic sensor in order to determine the tolerances that need to be compensated for during machining. The robot then fetches the necessary surface machining instruments, from angle grinders to belt grinders, and machines the component." Alternatively, the KR QUANTEC can also cooperate with machine tools and belt grinding units, i.e. workpiece-guided. Magnussen explains, "In this case we use a sliding table system in which an employee places components on a pallet that moves into the robotic cell. The KR QUANTEC now has grippers instead of tools. It takes each component, feeds it into a stationary belt sanding unit or a machine for surface finishing." That's where the finishing takes place.


Automation relieves the work force!


The employees of Robert Plersch Edelstahltechnik GmbH enjoy working with their new robot colleague. "They feel relieved," reports Thomas Magnussen. The KR QUANTEC takes over the physically heavy elements that are a burden on health.


But the robot also needs its human colleagues. This is because they take care of quality control and robot programming, as well as replacing the abrasive. Magnussen is pleased that more and more medium-sized companies are showing themselves to be open to such solutions. "Some still have it in their heads that robots are only suitable for large quantities and are extremely expensive," he reports. "But especially in family businesses, many decision-makers are very solution-oriented. We then talk about how the customer can implement small batch sizes and how flexible the programming is. So that the company's capacities can be planned much better in the future." Managing Director Georg Plersch sees no alternative to automated grinding work in his company anyway: "No one wants to do that kind of work anymore."