At the Cimcorp facility, work is underway on a new robot cell that will help test new robot applications and functionalities. Product development director Lasse Salakari says that the test cell will never be completely ready – it will be adapted and developed continuously along with new features and requirements
The number of new technical solutions available is increasing at an accelerated pace – in automation systems the same as other sectors. When the latest technology is applied to robot systems, it also requires precision testing. Previously, automation systems supplied to customers could only be tested close to delivery, but with the new Cimcorp+ test cell, test runs can be performed as early as during the tendering, design, and manufacturing processes.
“Now we are able to test the systems as realistically as possible, in conditions equivalent to the end use situations. The cell will enable the quality of our development work to improve even further and our customers will receive the latest technology after careful testing,” says Salakari.
The new test cell has been tried out in practice too, in connection with robot systems supplied to clients. The results have been positive: new functions have been created and peripherals implemented thanks to the cell. To mention a few examples designed for the tire industry, a new type of servogripper, a stack height measuring system, and a new cell controller have all been developed using the new test cell. The test cell also ensures the suitability of the systems for the customers’ needs.
“In addition to developing and testing new features, the cell helps us to improve and update equipment and systems that we have already supplied. At the same time, the cell enables us to present the right kind of working configuration to the customers before they make their decision to procure,” says Salakari.
Safe, user-friendly solutions
According to Salakari, the test cell project has four clear objectives: reliability, safety, usability, and the utilization of the latest technology to enhance energy savings etc. The test cell can also be used in training, for Cimcorp personnel as well as the customer’s employees.
“We paid particular attention in the test cell to making the robots and peripherals safe. Ease of use was another of the major focal points, and we are always trying to find even more user-friendly solutions in the areas of software, electrical and control technology as well as mechanics,” explains Sarakari.
The peripherals that Salakari mentioned in particular were conveyors. In addition to conveyors, the cell will be used for developing and testing destackers, scales, barcode readers, wireless data transmission systems, and vision systems – plus numerous other functions related to robotic systems in accordance with the current projects.
“The amount and proportion of conveyors in system deliveries is still on the increase. Therefore it is of vital importance to test them thoroughly. We use the cell to test for instance the functioning of different kinds of tire, stack and pallet conveyors, and their intersections. We are also going to invest in the drives and control systems of the conveyors,” Salakari continues.
Additionally, if there are any malfunctions it will be possible to troubleshoot them more efficiently than before.
“For instance, in the case of a more infrequent malfunction we can fix cameras to monitor the robot’s performance, and we can examine the situation later from the recording.”
Even though the aim of the test cell is to implement ready and effective solutions, Salakari does not think the cell itself will ever be completely finished.
“Continuous modifications will be made as needs arise. It will act as a framework within which we can simulate the functions that we need, regardless of the construction stage of the system on order.”
Benefits of Cimcorp+ test cell in a nutshell
• Thorough testing of new technical solutions before delivery (mechanical features, electrical and control technology, software)
• Presentation of an authentic, functioning system before the procurement decision
• Testing of the applicability of the equipment for the customers’ own products
• Testing of reported faults and malfunctions on the Cimcorp premises
• Training for customer and Cimcorp personnel
TEXT: TOTTI TOISKALLIO PHOTO: ESA KYYRÖ, TOMI GLAD