Panasonic Smart Factory Solutions Co., Ltd (Located at Toyonaka, Osaka, Japan) caters to electronic component mounting and welding machines for various manufacturers including those in the Automotive industry.
One of its main products in the thermal processing business is the laser welding/cutting robot system equipped with the industry-first Direct Diode Laser (DDL) specification, where laser processing head and oscillator, controllers and robots are all developed and manufactured by the company itself.
Currently, its thermal processing business has mainly 6-Axis articulated arc welding robot, TAWERS and remote laser welding/laser cutting robot system, LAPRISS. The company has developed its business targeting a wide range of Manufacturing industries. It is FARO’s 3D measurement devices and software that support its R&D.
Collecting 1,000 data per second
Panasonic Smart Factory Solutions first showed interest in FARO products in April 2016. Finally, in June 2018, it adopted a portable 3D measurement device FARO Vantage Laser Tracker as well as inspection software FARO BuildIT Metrology.
The company’s thermal processing business is engaged in the development of element components relating to the basic performance of robots. One of the important tasks is to measure the accuracy of the robot arm’s trajectory. Panasonic Smart Factory Solutions had earlier used other products before FARO solution but faced the disadvantage of limited measurement points due to constraint in the operation range caused by mechanical issues. This happened especially when the clients requested for a bigger or higher performance robot where there were some points which were difficult to measure, thus obstructing the workflow.
Also, the measurement tasks are normally repetitive and simple if conducted in a traditional way. So, the company needed to accelerate the automation of such tasks to improve its production efficiency. The team had tried various automation methods but software or signal problems relating to information communication made it difficult to achieve that.
FARO’s solution, consisting of FARO Vantage Laser Tracker and FARO BuildIT Metrology, is now utilized 24 hours and it is not uncommon to operate it for 10 days in a row.
Based on these conditions, FARO’s solution was introduced. “The main premise was to meet the same or achieve more than the previous system performance such as 1,000 data collection per second. The solution employs a different type of measurement principle yet is versatile in its application. We found it attractive that we could effortlessly automate the tasks, thanks to the flexible software,” states Ryosuke Yamamoto, Robotics Engineering Section of Welding & Robotics Solution Engineering Department, Panasonic Smart Factory Solutions.
Reducing time and optimizing performance
The company was primarily focused on accelerating automation when introducing the new system. “The best benefit was time reduction. Previously, we spent almost all our time at the site. We started the software to operate the robot and when the robot stopped, we stopped the software. But, with the FARO system, we don’t have to do anything except pushing the start button when we start work till the end of the day. When we prepare the night before, the work is done by the next morning, hence our working time is significantly reduced. It is a big advantage to allocate the time saved from this automation to other primary technical works,” adds Yamamoto.
Since the FARO system can measure points that the previous system could not due to its mechanical problems, it is another advantage to utilize the robots’ performance. They can try out various operation conditions that could not be done with the previous system. It means that the high precision required for robots can be achieved in the new processing field using laser.
“With the previous system, we could only measure relative positions. However, with the FARO Vantage, we can measure the arm position as an absolute position. Since BuildIT Metrology software is point based measurement, it is easy to analyze data compared to the element based measurement software,” he shares.
FARO system advantages
Currently, Panasonic Smart Factory Solutions operates the FARO system and everyone can feel the benefit of automation. “With FARO solution we can make efficient use of the time that we significantly save through the automation,” Yamamoto notes. It has also helped to reduce mental burden of staff members by reducing the time they had to spend standing by the system. For the ROI of the FARO solution, he says, “As only half a year has passed since its full-scale operation, we cannot confirm the value yet. However, if we could increase the sales volume due to the robot performance improvement, it will be the proof. Accuracy determining quality of the welding components will improve 4 times more by replacing the traditional arc welding with laser such as LAPRISS.”
The solution, consisting of FARO Vantage Laser Tracker and FARO BuildIT Metrology, is now utilized 24 hours and it is not uncommon to operate it for 10 days in a row. “We are highly satisfied with both hardware and software such as data collecting capability and automation that we were looking for,” he adds. In particular, the capability of FARO BuildIT Metrology as well as FARO’s support met the company’s requirements which has led to a smooth workflow.
Besides the Automotive industry, a wide range of industries and their manufacturing sites including farm machines, construction machines, shipbuilding and two-wheel vehicles, need the welding and cutting systems that Panasonic Smart Factory Solutions provides. The systems need to address new manufacturing processes and various materials. At the same time, demands to improve processing speed and accuracy are also increasing. Panasonic Smart Factory Solutions is committed to focus on its product development and is utilizing FARO’s solution to meet the tough demands from its end users.
Panasonic Smart Factory Solutions’ thermal processing business needed a reliable system to measure the accuracy of the robot arm’s trajectory.
FARO’s portable 3D measurement device FARO Vantage Laser Tracker and inspection software FARO BuildIT Metrology – was employed that brought in benefits including:
• Time saving by automatic measurement
• Support for the measurement of large-sized robots
• Easy to use software for data analysis
Panasonic Smart Factory Solutions is highly satisfied with both hardware and software such as data collecting capability and automation that it was looking for.
LT measurement data