Universal Robots empowers Wistron with greater production flexibility

Universal Robots empowers Wistron with greater production flexibility

With China’s manufacturing industry facing multiple tough challenges such as global competition and the need to transform and upgrade to modern processes, major manufacturers have implemented structural adjustment programs to vigorously promote production automation. Wistron, the world’s well-known ODM company, is the first to use collaborative robots from Universal Robots (UR) for its laptop assembly line to enable efficient and flexible production.

Since February this year, Wistron has bought 60 sets of UR robots to work its production line such as handling, locking screws, coordinating hot melt machines and locking screws, as well as matching vision systems. With the implementation of UR robots, the company has managed to gain more flexibility for its future production line layout and configuration, improved product yield effectively and optimized personnel allocation. At the same time, the company is expected to see reduced operating costs and enhanced profitability in the long term.

Production line layout significantly more flexible

Wistron started to automate its production with robotic arms as early as over two years ago. The traditional four- and six-axis robotic arms, which Wistron deployed previously, required safety fencing and guarding, have a large footprint and were only designed for non-sophisticated operations such as product handling. They did not conform to Wistron’s concept of a production line that spells “efficiency, flexibility and safety”.

Wistron’s laptop production line cannot achieve complete automation because of its specific operating mode and employees are still required to work alongside robots, the range of motion of robotic arms are limited for the safety of workers. UR robots can work next to people without safety fencing, thanks to its highly secure settings, hence UR robots can well satisfy the company’s production requirements with its safety design without sacrificing its operating speed, other functionalities and workers’ safety in a limited space.

“UR robots have a small footprint and are highly secure,” said Congyao Zhang, Wistron’s Manufacturing Technology Director. “UR robots can rotate 360 degrees, eliminating any blind area of movement, and can perform various operations. Therefore, we are able to realize highly flexible production while ensuring continuous and stable production at the same time.”

 Optimized internal resources

 Wistron has always been seeing a high employee turnover rate because people get easily bored doing simple, repeated tasks. That’s one of the major reasons why the company has introduced UR robots.

A single UR robot can perform routine, repetitive work of two human workers. With the help of UR robots, Wistron is now able to achieve optimized allocation of human resources.

Employees can be freed up from performing monotonous tasks to take on more intelligent work requiring thinking and sustained attention. Wistron can re-deploy its employees more flexibly to perform meaningful and tasks that require intelligence. Such redeployment of staff’s duties has effectively helped reduce the company’s current employee turnover rate.

Reduced operating costs; enhanced profitability

 UR robots take a short time – from assessment, installation, commissioning to actual operation – to get them up and running. The typical time an operator needed to finish a UR robot set-up is about two to three hours. UR offers an innovative easy-to-use robot system software named PolyScope to enable easier programming of a UR robot, with which a couple of hours are sufficient to finish the commissioning of its moving path as well as the optimization and adjustment of its picking operation.

And how soon can one learn to operate a UR robot? It has been proven that engineers and technicians, who have no prior experience with UR robots, can master basic operations and movements immediately after training. In comparison, learning to use traditional robots takes one to two weeks of formal training followed by another few more weeks for actual on-line operation. Hence, UR robots help to shorten the learning curve significantly, reducing the company’s training costs effectively.

In a nutshell, UR robots frees up manpower so that employees can be reassigned to accomplish higher value-added tasks while the company does not have to recruit extra staff to fill positions. This helps a company to reduce labor costs. UR robots help a company get a faster return on investment within a shorter time of one-and-a-half to two years, improving its profitability considerably.

Increasing product yield significantly

 Wistron has witnessed a sharp increase in its product yield since its deployment of UR robots.

“Some of our clients have observed our automated production line in person and expressed their appreciation of our adoption of robots,” said Director Zhang. “Our end customers do not wish to see labor shortage, inexperienced workers in need of training, man-made errors and the like. With robotic operations, we are able to effectively enhance product yield and stability, avoiding those problems I’ve mentioned. As a result, clients hope that we will introduce and deploy more collaborative robots to the production lines in a faster and more extensive manner.”

 Future prospects for collaborative robots

 Unlike traditional industrial robots, getting acquainted with and learning to operate collaborative robots is much easier. Collaborative robots offer considerably more convenience for small- and medium-sized enterprises to transform their production lines.

James Taylor, General Manager at Universal Robots Shanghai, said, “As manufacturing cost of robots has been coming down year after year, we are very confident in the market prospect of collaborative robots, especially their application in the electronics industry. Because of its safety design and the elimination of fencing, collaborative robots can work alongside human employees, which satisfy the needs of those industries incapable of achieving 100% automated production.”

Director Zhang added, “We expect to introduce more collaborative robots in the future. Our company is planning to purchase new UR robots this year and the number is expected to exceed 120 units. In addition, we have been dedicated to developing automated whole module equipment. According to our design concepts, we wish to redeploy our robots to new applications to make sure that not a single robot would lie idle when a process changes or if it’s eliminated in the future. In that case, the automated stand-alone module equipment we have developed would be applied to collaborative robot-based production. Therefore, we are very optimistic about the market development potential of UR robots.”

About Wistron Corporation

Wistron Corporation is a global leading ODM (original design manufacturer) dedicated to providing design and manufacturing services for information and communication technology (ICT) products. Wistron’s network of design, manufacturing and service teams has grown to over 60,000 people worldwide. Headquartered in Taiwan, the company has established manufacturing, R & D and customer service centers in Asia, America and Europe. In China, Wistron has offices and operations in many cities including Zhongshan, Kunshan, Shanghai, Taizhou, Qingdao, Beijing and Chengdu. For more information about the company, please visit the official website: http://www.wistron.com.cn/index.htm.

About Universal Robots

Universal Robots is a first mover within a new segment of collaborative industrial robots focusing on user friendliness and flexibility. Since the first UR robot entered the market in 2009, the company has seen substantial growth. Now UR robots are being sold in more than 50 countries worldwide. The company is headquartered in Odense, Denmark where all development and production is carried out. For more information about Universal Robots, please visit the official website: www.universal-robots.com.

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