KUKA – 21% increase in production and a dramatically improved health & safety record
Vaillant Group is one of the world’s leading heating technology manufacturers, setting the standards in the heating market, including pioneering the ‘combi’ boiler. ‘Thinking ahead’ is a culture which is embraced throughout the business and Vaillant UK, based in Belper, Derbyshire wanted an innovative way to meet increased levels of customer demand in the UK – without increasing its labour costs. By introducing automation to the assembly of Heat Engines and palletising of Vaillant Boilers, Vaillant UK realised that it could make significant production improvements.
A KUKA palletising robot solution reduced the need for manual intervention in the manufacturing process and increased both the efficiency and capacity of the manufacturing track. For the Heat Engine Cell, the need to pick, place and secure rapidly was essential to Vaillant UK to keep up with the requirement of the track. The demand was a maximum cycle time of 45 seconds between assemblies. For the Palletising Cell, Vaillant UK had to manage the need to pick and gently place the finished products in different configurations whilst ensuring no mixing of products on a single pallet. The requirement was to process a minimum of 25 pallets every hour. With its powerful motors and high performance gear units, and the ability to stack multiple pallets up to great heights with ease, the KUKA KR180-2 Palletising solution was chosen for both installations to ensure shorter cycle times and greater productivity.
By removing manual handling from both the front and back end of the manufacturing process, Vaillant were able to increase the production of its Heat Engines by more than 21% without the need for more sta. Richard Sainsbury, Industrial Engineering Manager at Vaillant UK has been impressed with the results: “Looking holistically, the KUKA robots will have paid for themselves within 2.5 years.” Vaillant UK has also seen a significant reduction in Health and Safety claims relating to operator fatigue, as Richard explains: “Since implementation in April 2012 there hasn’t been a single claim. This is a huge step forward in terms of meeting our health and safety objectives and was definitely a contributing factor in us being awarded the British Safety Council award for Health and Safety.”
A strong recommendation from trusted integrators led to Vaillant UK choosing KUKA Robotics for this project. However, like many ventures into unknown territory, the project wasn’t without its teething problems. “Having not done anything like this before there was no in-house knowledge and we were very much reliant on our integrator.” explains Richard Sainsbury. “We have since forged a strong relationship with KUKA and our key personnel have been trained to ensure we can self-serve as far as possible.” KUKA robot solutions are now the standard choice for all future Vaillant UK automation projects and both companies are looking forward to kicking off the next project in 2014.
We have exceeded our Health & Safety objectives in several areas