7th edition of Wikpol Robotics Academy – we are thanking the participants

We would like to thank our esteemed guests for taking part in our 2023 Robotics Academy. Thank you both for your substantive contribution and for creating a friendly atmosphere that accompanied us throughout the event.

This year, the Robotics Academy was held on 12-13 October. It was the seventh event organized by Wikpol and devoted to the issue of robotization. As in previous years, this year the Academy’s objective was to provide knowledge and tools to companies planning to implement robotic bulk packaging or palletizing lines in their plants.

The event was attended by representatives of manufacturing companies interested in modernizing their production processes. Substantive support was provided by experts – mainly industry practitioners, who have already gathered experience related to robotics in the areas they manage. Specialists representing companies dealing with automation and robotics, as well as ones from the Lublin University of Technology, also shared their knowledge.

The partners and co-organizers of the Academy were the world’s leading manufacturers in the field of automation and robotics: Fanuc, Festo, Turck, Schunk and the manufacturer of industrial fencing Throax.

Wikpol Robotics Academy 2023 was organized under the motto: “Robotization. You plan – you implement – you will operate. Let’s talk about the most important stages of the investment. ” The Academy’s program included a conference, discussions, practical demonstrations, workshops and a visit to the production plant where a robotic line for palletizing cans and buckets of paint operates.

Day 1

THE CONFERENCE

The conference part of the Robotics Academy began with discussing issues related to the subsequent phases of investment, i.e. planning, implementation and operation of robotic production lines.

Wikpol’s speakers, who have completed over 500 production process automation projects, drew attention to the crucial issues that should be taken into account before starting the investment. The fundamental ones include:

  • Needs analysis: Enterprises should carefully assess their
    robotization needs and goals, including expected benefits, cost reductions, and efficiency improvements.
  • Selection of appropriate solutions: Companies can use different approaches to robotization, adapted to a specific industry, production type and current needs/condition of the respective company.
  • Budget planning: When estimating project costs, investors should take into account not only the costs of purchasing equipment, but also the total indirect costs.
  • Integration with existing systems: For plants, the compatibility of new solutions with existing production systems is of utmost importance. Integration of data and processes provides manufacturers with a number of benefits.
  • Scaling and developing: Enterprises that plan to implement robotic production lines should take into account the methods of scaling and developing their investments.
  • Choice of integrator: The success of a robotization project in a
    manufacturing facility largely depends on the professionalism and experience of the integrator, i.e. the company that will design, execute and implement the robotized production line. An important role of the integrator at this stage is also consulting.

The second thematic block was devoted to the project implementation phase. The following issues were discussed:

  • Competences and resources of the integrator: In order to ensure the effective implementation of the project, the integrator should have specific resources that will enable it to effectively implement the subsequent steps of the process, i.e. design, manufacture and implementation of the robotic system.
  • System design: Contractors who apply modern design tools provide their customers with significant benefits. Wikpol engineers use state of the art software to design devices, simulate their work and operation of entire systems in a virtual environment. They apply digital testing to ready-made solutions, both mechanical systems and software, and are also able to build digital models of machines. They also use standards such as, e.g., PackML or PLCOpen during the design of automation and control. The use of the latest  tools for system design and testing shortens the project implementation phase, prevents errors, allows you to optimize the efficiency, reliability and durability of devices, reduces investment costs and improves product quality. It also facilitates the integration of devices with the production line.
  • Standardization and production control: The Contractor, who has highly computerized its production processes, has full insight into the subsequent stages of production and can control the implementation of individual tasks on an ongoing basis. The possibility of quick, direct exchange of data/information between different levels of the design and production areas is also important for quality improvement.
  • Comprehensive line testing: Testing of devices is carried out as standard within the company’s procedures. At Wikpol, we use FAT as the final stage of equipment testing, before shipment to the customer’s plant, which provides us with evidence of functionality, quality, efficiency and compliance with the technical documentation.
  • Safety: Testing of the line also includes checking the correct operation of all the safety circuits. At Wikpol, this is done on the basis of a security protocol that is elaborated separately for each line.

The final issues presented by Wikpol concerned the operation and maintenance of robotic production systems.

  • Maintenance and Service: We presented the best practices related to the maintenance of robotic systems and service options.
  • Optimization and monitoring: Wikpol has prepared a number of procedures and tools that support the optimal operation of robotic production systems and enable the monitoring of their operation.
  • Once again integrator: During the operation of robotic lines, the availability and scope of technical support offered by the integrator becomes of particular significance. References received by Wikpol over the years confirm the high quality of the service, including the speed of response to reported incidents and constant contact with our customers.

Subsequently, partner companies presented detailed studies on several important areas related to robotics and automation. These were the following:

FANUC – Effective robotization as a business development tool. Is it possible to accurately calculate the return on investment in robotization?

FESTO – Effective use of compressed air in production plants

TURCK – TURCK’s solutions for digital transformation of companies

SCHUNK – Schunk – not just pneumatic grippers.

The participants of the Academy had the opportunity to confront the theoretical knowledge provided to them during the conference with the opinions of invited experts – specialists from various industries, who gathered experience in implementing robotic solutions in their plants. Once again, it was confirmed that the participants of the Academy are keenly interested in the direct translation of theory into production realities.

WORKSHOPS

The workshop part covered a range of interesting and diverse topics. The demonstration of the work of a robotic carton palletizing line, designed and produced by WIKPOL, enjoyed the greatest interest.

The main elements of the line are the FANUC industrial robot with a fork-type gripper with a load capacity of 50 kg, adapted to pick various types of cartons or rows of cartons, not exceeding 1 200 mm in length. The line also performs the function of automatic rotation of cartons. Its standard equipment includes an automatic pallet feeder. However, it can also be integrated into an automated guided vehicle (AGV), which will deliver empty pallets and other auxiliary materials to the line and collect full pallets. It was this version – with an AGV – that we demonstrated during the Academy. The capacity of the palletizing line is 25 cartons per minute.

We also devoted a few words to the AGV itself, which is a relatively new item in Wikpol’s offer. It is a vehicle with a lifting capacity of up to 1 500 kg, adapted to support palletizing processes and characterized by high flexibility in operation.

FANUC presented a cardboard palletizing system based on a collaborating robot that does not require special security fencing.

The FESTO demonstration stand consisted of the MSE6-E2M energy efficiency module and other components for monitoring compressed air consumption.

The TURCK Multimedia Station and LMI Gocator 3D scanners were also very interesting – they offer technology for quality control on the production line, robot positioning and geometric measurements.

SCHUNK – a world-renowned manufacturer of components for the automation of production processes, including gripping and clamping technology, presented a wide range of pneumatic and electric grippers and robot accessories.

Day 2

On the second day, participants could see up close the robotic palletizing line for paints and varnish at the Akzo Nobel production plant in Pilawa.

Summary

Summing up the idea of the Wikpol Robotics Academy, it is worth emphasizing that it focuses on the practical aspects of implementing robotic solutions in production plants. This is also supported by the formula we have selected, which includes both the exchange of experiences between participants and demonstrations of working devices and entire robotic lines and systems, the operation of which can be  observed up close.

The Robotics Academy is a valuable initiative, helping to get specific answers to questions concerning the efficient and optimal path to robotization of plant.

In the face of the dynamically developing automation market, the possibility of acquiring knowledge resulting from the implementation of hundreds of projects, and using the latest technical and IT solutions contributes to  increasing the competences of enterprises striving to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of their production.

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