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LG Motion UK

UK distributor for OnRobot

CNC machine tending with 3FG15 gripper for WEFAG

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≫  CNC machine tending with 3FG15 gripper for WEFAG

OnRobot collaborative automation robot tools are being used at WEFAG, where they produce fluid technology workpieces in Switzerland. In order to continuously deliver Swiss-quality results to its clients, the company does not only invest in new CNC machines but also relies on a collaborative application featuring the 3FG15 gripper developed by OnRobot to tend CNC machines. 

The Challenge

Shorter delivery times and smaller batch sizes

For WEFAG AG, the necessary adjustments were mainly sparked by changes in client demands. “We are increasingly dealing with extremely short delivery times and smaller batch sizes,” explains Damian Hediger, Managing Director of WEFAG AG. “Besides, process reliability must be guaranteed – for all components.” When machining workpieces with CNC machines, both absolute positioning accuracy and repeatability are crucial. This family-owned company focuses on precision and meeting the highest quality standards. WEFAG AG is thus able to offer its clients a wide range of CNC machining services in an almost unlimited variety and combination of materials. The components go through various machining steps within the CNC machines, including turning, milling, drilling, vibratory finishing, assembly, refining and the final machining of the workpieces.

At WEFAG, an employee would spend the entire day placing workpieces in a machine and removing them. This made the company look for a way to make its production processes more efficient, without hindering employees’ tasks. After much research and consideration, the company finally decided to automate. With modern technologies, many processes are already automated: loading and unloading, for example, which previously needed to be supervised by an employee. Today, WEFAG automates part of its process using a collaborative application consisting of a Doosan robot and an OnRobot gripper.

Due to the limited space between CNC machines at the production facility, WEFAG was faced with another challenge: the process had to be automated in the most space-saving way possible, which meant that robotics was also on the agenda. Furthermore, the solution had to be accurate enough to precisely place a variety of components in the machine and remove them without damaging them.

The Results

WEFAG and cobot solutions decided on an application in which OnRobot’s 3FG15 gripper is seamlessly mounted on Doosan’s collaborative robot arm. The electric three-finger gripper stands out due to its high accuracy and flexible gripping range. The 3FG15 enables precise gripping of objects of different shapes and sizes. Its fingers can be mounted in three different positions, enabling different gripping forces and diameters. Thanks to its symmetrical rotational motion, the 3FG15 places objects very precisely. It is also IP67 certified, which ensures that the device is dust tight and protected against temporary immersion. This makes the 3FG15 the perfect solution for CNC machine operation. “The component itself is difficult to grip due to its shape, which is why not every gripper was suitable. In the end, only the OnRobot 3FG15 met the requirements,” says Nathanael Hediger.

Once the application was up and running, it ran day and night to fully optimize the use of the machines. This resulted in a significant increase in workpieces processed in less time. Employees now only need to load the trays of the Easy Robotics Pro Feeder with the workpiece blanks and enter the necessary parameters in the software input screen. The application then automatically pulls out the trays of the Pro Feeder, takes out the raw material, and accurately places it in the CNC machine. Once the workpiece has been machined, the cobot arm removes the finished component from the machine with the help of the 3FG15 gripper and places it back in a free spot of the tray. “Thanks to automation, our processes are now much more efficient, and we are able to reduce the workload of our employees.  We expect the investment to be paid off within a few months,” adds Damian Hediger, Managing Director of WEFAG AG. 

Extended Automtion

By employing the collaborative application consisting of the Doosan robot arm and the OnRobot 3FG15 gripper, WEFAG AG has proved that small and medium-sized family businesses can make their production processes substantially more efficient using automation. 
Even though WEFAG AG has only recently started operating its automation solution, the company already has its sights set on the future. The CNC experts are currently considering implementing another OnRobot gripper the 2FG7 and integrating it into their everyday production processes via an application.  

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