30 April 2021

Last delivery of a polishing cell machine

Autopulit has delivered a 9-axis robot polishing cell to ABM, supplied by Ellesco. The specific project was to fulfil demand for polished side frames for a prestigious 4×4.

“The customer recognised that the ideal solution would be a robot cell to deliver the consistent high quality that its customers required,” explains ABM’s automation manager, Lloyd Jackson.

The cell development was completed with ABM leading discussions taking input from Ellesco and Mr Jackson, with an extensive polishing know-how completed the picture. From placing the order the timeline for delivery didn’t slip by a day even as changes were made along the way.

“I couldn’t fault the service and support provided by Autopulit and Ellesco; working with them gave me full confidence that they would deliver on their promises,” Mr Jackson recalls. “The design of the cell is straightforward – why overcomplicate if you don’t have to – but it is highly capable of the complex work that we are asking it to do, and is future proof as it can be adapted to new work when this seven-year project draws to a close.”

The cell consists of a 6-axis ABB IRB 6700 robot with a 200kg payload and 2.6m reach. This sits on an ABB IRBT 6004 track allowing the robot to traverse up to 2.7m. Parts are loaded onto a two-station interchanger capable of holding parts measuring 950mm x 4,000mm.

The robot arm has access to four AC motor driven polishing tools, with each being equipped with inverters, allowing finite control of polishing mop speed and polarity, which creates a more fluent and adaptable approach when it comes to polishing large parts.

Prior to polishing commencing the robot arm presents each polishing mop to a laser calibrating system, which calculates mop wear and automatically compensates the program to a tolerance of ±0.1mm to ensure correct pressure is applied. With the polishing mop calibrated the robot then presents it to the compound dispenser, which automatically applies one of three compounds.

The whole system is controlled by an IRC5 single controller and once programmed the control recognises which of the six side frames are loaded, so the whole process is simplified to: load part, press cycle start.

Mr Jackson adds: “The Autopulit cell has delivered significant advantages in many areas of our production including time saving, consistency and health and safety. When manually polishing it could take four hours to complete one side frame. That is now down to 14 minutes; with an additional 30 minutes of manual intervention with soft mops.

“The cell can operate 24 hours a day; it doesn’t get tired, so quality is consistent. The elimination of hard mop manual polishing also removes any risk of Hand Arm Vibration (HAV) issues for operators. We also have flexibility, so when new business opportunities present themselves, we have the resources to be able to react quickly to supply high quality, cost-competitive, aluminium and stainless steel brightware.

“The installation of the robot polishing cell at ABM is indicative of the strong relationships that we have developed with our longstanding industrial partners such as Autopulit; allowing us to quickly resolve manufacturing challenges for our customers,” says Ellesco’s managing director Guy Newton.