One of the three newly-installed robots at Suscom Industries in Wigan, UK.
A Wigan-based manufacturer of office furniture has invested £750,000 in reshoring its operations back to the UK, following an absence of over 20 years.
Suscom Industries is producing bases for office chairs at its UK facility following the purchase of two 600-tonne Romi injection moulding presses as well as three robots from Kawasaki.
The decision to reshore its manufacturing back to the UK from China, says Suscom, has allowed the company to produce its chair bases “to a higher quality level, to its own improved design, more profitably and with greater control over stock and availability.”
Robots handling manufacturing
Kawasaki Robotics’ systems integrator, Evershed Robotics, was tasked with design and installation of the complete cell which was purpose designed around the new tool designs.
The cell control is managed through the Kawasaki robots’ integrated K-Logic PLCs with each mould tool having its own control box to select the correct programme.
Each Romi press is served by a Kawasaki RS-20N robot, which picks the completed moulding and sprue from the mould ejector pins.
The new tooling design allows for the sprue to be detached by the tool but to be retained for collection along with the chair base moulding. The robot delivers the sprue to a granulator for recycling and a check to ensure that the sprue is detached from the moulding.
Placing the chair base onto a cooling conveyor the same Kawasaki robot then picks up a slip ring, delivered by bowl feeder, which it assembles into the centre of the moulding. Each Romi press has its own robot and conveyor delivering mouldings to a single Kawasaki RS-50N robot.
This third robot unloads chair bases from the cooling conveyors and places them firstly into a turnover jig and then into a castor assembly cell. Castors can be one of two sizes so the programme ensures the robot is instructed to pick from the correct bowl feeder. After moving to a check point that confirms the correct size has been picked the robot then presses the castor into one of the five location points.
On completion of castor assembly the robot picks up the assembled base and places it onto another conveyor where it is finally unloaded manually.
1,000 chair bases per shift
“Unlike generic imports, mouldings that come straight from our new tooling require no further coatings or fillers, there are no surface imperfections, and they are overall a much stronger product,” commented Joel Rockwood, Suscom Industries Production Manager.
“The cell is absolutely consistent and reliable in its output of 1,000 chair bases per 12-hour shift, which we manage with just two operators. The robot system has surpassed what is expected of it both in speed and in maintaining a very clean and orderly environment.”
Rockwood added that the system has also had a significant impact on Suscom’s customer service. ”We could see prices rising in China so creating our own in-house design made sense; the payoff for customers is clear as we have maintained, and even lowered, prices together with adding value such as assembling castors and delivering an all-round better product,” he concluded.