EMEX - Engineering, Machinery & Electronics Exhibition
Aquarius Engines unveils new hydrogen engine that’s a different breed
The Tiny 10kg Engine Operates 100% on hydrogen, delivering viable alternative to fossil fuel and significant reduction in emissions.
Aquarius Engines has unveiled a new hydrogen engine that may make reliance on both hydrogen fuel-cells and fossil fuel a thing of the past.
The tiny 10kg machine is based on the same technology as their original patented single-piston-linear-engine but operates exclusively on hydrogen. As governments around the world prepare to eliminate fossil fuels; Aquarius Engines says it has successfully tested a viable replacement to the traditional combustion engine that operates on hydrogen.
The new Aquarius hydrogen engine’s lightweight design and unique internal-gas-exchange-method would greatly reduce emissions and lower the global carbon footprint.
Aquarius Engines waited to unveil the new hydrogen engine until after successful third-party tests were conducted by the world-renowned Austrian engineering firm AVL-Schrick. The tests demonstrated that a modified version of the original Aquarius Engine can fully operate on hydrogen.
“It was always our dream at Aquarius Engines to breathe oxygen into hydrogen technology as the fuel of the future. From initial tests it appears that our hydrogen engine, that doesn’t require costly hydrogen fuel-cells, could be the affordable, green and sustainable answer to the challenges faced by global transport and remote energy production. As the world moves away from fossil fuel, our new hydrogen engine could spark the dawning of the age of Aquarius,”says Gal Fridman, chair of Aquarius Engines.
The original fg enerator is currently undergoing successful field tests in North America, Europe, Asia and Australasia.
Aquarius Engines recently announced partnership deals with Nokia in the field of remote communication and energy equipment management in addition to establishing a subsidiary in Tokyo and partnering with Japanese auto-parts manufacturers TPR and Honda-affiliate Musashi Seimitsu.
The 10kg Aquarius Engine was invented in 2014 and is designed to be used as an onboard power generator in a vehicle or as a stand-alone electricity generator. Unlike most conventional engines that are made of hundreds of parts, the Aquarius Engine has just 20 components and one moving part. The lightweight streamlined design makes it inexpensive and highly efficient with minimal need for maintenance, compared to traditional engines.
The Aquarius Engines technology currently has around two dozen patents registered worldwide. Aquarius Engines has manufacturing and development centres in Israel, Germany and Poland.
For more visit http://www.aquariusengines.com/
Triflex TRX energy supply system revolutionises 3D motion of robots
Telescopic triflex TRX igus energy chain from Treotham saves space on the robot and ensures a retraction length of up to 40%.
To ensure that cables on industrial robots can be guided in motion safely, easily and compactly, igus has now developed the four-dimensional triflex TRX energy chain.
The new design study replaces classic robot hose packages and retraction systems. Special feature: 40% retraction length ensured by a unique telescopic mechanism inside the chain. This allows users to save space on the third axis of their robot, up to 83% weight and high costs for retraction systems.
The three-dimensional triflex R igus energy chains are widely used in the industry for fail-safe guidance of cables and hoses on robots. Retraction systems have so far been used on the third axis to ensure that no loops are created during the movement of the energy chain system which could hinder the robot.
“However, the axes on the robots offer less and less space, so a new solution was needed,” says Jörg Ottersbach, head of the e-chains Business Unit at igus GmbH.
No sooner said than done, the triflex TRX system was developed based on the triflex R energy chain. This is a four-dimensional energy chain in which the retraction system is already integrated. “With TRX, we created a space-saving chain that can be fixed directly and compactly on the third axis. The energy supply twists into itself, lengthens and shortens spirally as in a telescopic pull-out, by up to 40%,” says Ottersbach. For this purpose, igus relies on a screw connector system in the unique mechanism as well as on an integrated reset band. The band brings the chain links back to their starting point time and again, and thereby the retraction force can be adjusted.
The cables are placed in the chain in the form of a spiral and are guided safely in the movement with the help of the chain. In addition, the cables and hoses are fastened in place in the middle of the TRX so that they do not leave their position when the chain is pulled.
Weight saving of 83%
Compared to other retraction systems, the user saves up to 83% weight, according to the manufacturer, and requires less than half the space. In this way, the performance of the robot can be further improved, and costs are significantly reduced by dispensing with an additional retraction system.
TRX can be easily connected to existing TRE series triflex R chains. As with triflex R, the cables can be quickly filled into the energy chain from the outside. Igus will present the new TRX to interested parties from 5th May 2021 at its newly launched real-virtual trade show.
Introducing on-site 3D printing for new or replacement parts
The demand for 3D printing has moved from the test and trial phase to providing real solutions for differing industry needs.
Bionic Production GmbH has applied their knowledge and experience in producing 3D printed parts in Europe to develop the ‘Mobile Smart Factory’, now being made available in New Zealand and Australia.
The Mobile Smart Factory provides the opportunity for on-location production for industries anywhere and is especially helpful to those companies operating in remote geographical locations or just outside their research facility. Undoubtedly, this is an attractive proposition to Australian and New Zealand companies operating remotely in mining, gas and oil production, offshore oil platforms, or in wind farms located on land or in the sea. Bionic Production says this revolutionises the availability of 3D printing as it combines all three areas of the process: design, 3D build and post-production neatly secured in two standard 20ft shipping containers. Housed in this way means the containers can be shipped or transported by rail or aircraft to the sit location. Even relocated when required.
The Smart Factory offers two forms of 3D printing – metal or polymer. Each Mobile Smart Factory is tailor-made to meet customer needs. It may include wire arc additive manufacturing technology (WAAM), a metal AM laser system, along with a milling and drilling process. Or the system can be delivered set up to produce polymer products applying fused deposition modelling (FDM).
The team at Raymax Applications in Sydney provide consultation and support to help identify the most suitable solution for each users’ needs, train the operators and assist in preparing the CAD files ready for use. The Smart Factory can be used to make one-off replacement parts or build, test, trial and modify supplementary sections t original parts or develop completely new parts.
The Mobile Smart Factory is aimed at providing convenience for part production whenever and wherever located encouraging innovation along with reducing supply logistics and loss in production downtime.
For more visit http://www.raymax.com.au.
City Rail Link provides master class for Kiwi students
Students from Cape Reinga to the Bluff are getting the chance to visit New Zealand’s largest transport infrastructure project – Auckland’s City Rail Link – without leaving their classrooms.
Video technology will turn the project into a virtual classroom for students from all over New Zealand, allowing them to access videos to see how the project is being built while also highlighting careers available in the infrastructure industry.
At the same time, the imagination of primary, intermediate and secondary Year 7 to 10 students will be tested with a competition for them to design their own public transport station.
“City Rail Link is committed to leaving a strong legacy for New Zealand – we’re a huge and complex project with a lot to show and share – and we’re delighted we are contributing to this classroom initiative,” says Link Alliance project director, Francois Dudouit.
The design competition and the virtual classroom is a collaboration between the Link Alliance, which is delivering the main CRL stations, tunnels, and systems, the Ministry of Education and online education group LEARNZ, part of CORE Education.
“The focus is on Māori and Pacific, and female students. This work is all about opening the eyes of tamariki to the breadth of future pathways they could aspire to,” says Dudouit.
“There is a lack of representation in the construction industry, particularly females. This programme is about helping people see the opportunities, and also increasing understanding of the sector. Construction can be highly technical. It is about problem-solving and delivering for people and communities.”
One of the biggest challenges facing the construction industry is the shortage of people and skills throughout the sector, impacting its capacity to deliver the growing pipeline of construction projects. Women make up only 18 per cent of the construction-related workforce in New Zealand and Māori and Pacific are under-represented in the skilled professions and at leadership level.
CRL’s virtual classroom programme starts on June 8 and a design competition for students kicked off Monday May 24 to coincide with the start of the country’s Techweek. This challenge will continue until the end of Term Two. Classes also get the opportunity to connect with one or more of the experts in a live web conference on June 9 and 10 as part of the school programme. Dudouit will be involved in these online class sessions, too.
“The whole idea of our involvement is to educate students about the CRL and the transformational transport benefits it will bring to Auckland, and to give them a glimpse of the diverse opportunities an infrastructure project of this size provides,” he says.
Dudouit says as well as all the mahi involved in construction, the programme will showcase CRL Māori, Pacific and women workers, and highlight the project’s partnership with mana whenua.
The air up there…
Technofast tensioners tower over nature’s fury in a global low-maintenance masterclass.
Versatile Technofast cable tensioners supporting Sydney Airport’s control tower have delivered what Technofast describes as a master class in low-maintenance engineering and construction technology after faultlessly withstanding the worst conditions nature could throw at them for 25 years.
The Australian-engineered stainless steel tensioning innovations – used in architectural, construction, infrastructure, energy, oil and gas, mining and crane applications globally – were installed in 1994.
They tension the tower’s stay rods, using precise hydraulic force rather than torque to tension pairs of bolts supporting the slim, elegant structure overlooking the three runways of Australia’s busiest airport, which handles 44 million passengers in a typical year.
Since installation, the cost-effective, trouble-free and safe way of securing the stay rods to the foundation and post-tensioning the rods to ensure the tower’s stability has withstood winds exceeding 200kph in the nearby Sydney CBD (in 2015); daily rainfall exceeding 200mm (1998); constant deluges of salt from the seaside location and the heat of one of the worst droughts in Australia’s history.
“The nuts have been so trouble-free in service that, after 24 years from the last contact
we had with the tower’s operators, we got a request from Arup Partners for information about the nuts so they could continue safeguard the ongoing stability of the structure. The nuts were so reliable in service that it was easy to forget they were there,” says Technofast CEO John Bucknell, whose company sequentially removed, refurbished and reinstalled the tensioners to extend their safety and performance even further into the future.
“The tensioners enable the tower to be moved 30mm in any chosen direction to ensure perfect alignment using with the hydraulic control we established,” says John Bucknell. “Their future and past performance demonstrates the longevity of the versatile product and the range of extreme applications which can be addressed using them.”
They are so quick and easy to use that nuclear power plants (and conventional plants too) use them to minimise downtime and service time on generators,” he says.
Different designs of rapidly actuated sets of Technofast hydraulic nuts – including the latest EziTite designs – are used in applications as diverse as architectural and construction projects, oil and gas vertical structures, cable stays on mining and lifting equipment including draglines, and wind power generators. The latest EziTite designs further enhance the durability of the original hydraulic tensioners used at Sydney Airport.
EZITITE FEATURES INCLUDE:
• Reduced maintenance downtime
• Improved safety on the job
• Reliable and precise tensioning across multiple nuts
• Accurate and reliable loading
• User-friendly, requiring little physical effort
• Fast to fit and remove
They are ideal for difficult or confined spaces, where vibrational or torsional stresses are a problem and where regular maintenance requires repeated adjustment or removal of nuts.
Technofast hydraulic nuts were originally selected for Sydney airport control tower because installation of them was so simple, safe and time-saving, while delivering a long-term durable and adjustable tensioning solution. Twelve 50mm Technofast nuts were used on the 45m-high control tower to anchor its stay rods to three concrete buttresses at its base.
After being screwed into place by hand until the base of the nut was against the working face, hydraulic pressure was applied extend the nut’s piston and push the nut body apart.
This stretched and tensioned the 80mm steel stay accurately.
Threaded lockring, mounted on the piston, was then tightened to retain the induced load and the hydraulic pressure was released. The three control tower stays were tightened simultaneously by three personnel, each using a single Hydraulic hand pump with spider hoses attached to four Technofast tensioners. Pressure was raised in steps of 35bar/500psi until the designated tension of 840bar/12,000psi was reached. Once the tensioners were pumped up to the required pressure, the lock rings were nipped tight with a C spanner.
About half a day was spent on the original tensioning operation, with none of the customary problems associated with conventional torque-tightened fasteners, such as metal friction and heat build-up. The Technofast nuts were safe to install because they were locked mechanically at each step of the tensioning process.
The three stays were checked and tightened if necessary every three months for the first 12 months of the control tower’s life, to counteract any settling of the foundations. “This was a very simple process in which the tensioners were repressured to re-tension the stays and secure
the nuts again,” says Bucknell.
“Since then, maintenance requirements have been minimal. The stainless tensioners are engineered to be very resistant to corrosion from the salty air in abundance at the airport.
These are the same qualities that make them such a good choice for building sites in aggressive environments, as well as mining, energy, power and gas and water utilities”
CNC Solutions powers up with Empower
Christchurch-based CNC Solutions is making every post a winner by using the Empower Workshop Productivity & Scheduling Software app to rev up productivity and performance.
Laine Etwell, director of CNC Solutions Ltd in Rolleston says: “We are a metal and sheetmetal fabrication business. We offer a full CAD design and prototyping service to clients who require it. We have moved into new facilities and the business continues to grow significantly and ballpark revenue is $4 million annually at present.”
Etwell says that the business had no staff on jobs reporting for two years while also having few workshop staff.
“During this time we had no idea of job times, jobs took the time they took and each month we hoped we had made money.
“In 2019, we invested in tablets on the workshop floor and the Empower Workshop Productivity & Scheduling Software App. We also invested in two 50-inch TV screens presenting our job schedule and our jobs, tasks, staff and times in real time, as they occurred on the workshop floor.
“I worked for engineering businesses previously, some of which had good and some of which had poor processes, systems and reporting. When I started CNC Solutions, I had a good understanding of why it is essential to have and use good processes, systems and reporting. Using the Empower Software App we run rings around many engineering firms we compete with which have no scheduling software and only manual processes and systems which provides limited, late and inaccurate job status and labour time and labour cost reporting.”
Etwell says CNC Solutions schedules all its jobs on Empower so all production is planned, the software factors for existing capacity and calculates when each new job will start and finish. This enables the company to give clients an accurate completion date when they place their orders.
“I estimate that jobs take 20% minimum less time at 20% minimum less labour cost using technology of tablets on workshop floor and the Empower Software App. This enables us to have more competitive quotations in the marketplace and allows us to maximise job profit.
“Our operations manager Graham monitors all jobs on the 50 inch TV screens and his PC whilst production is in progress and he immediately investigates any overruns or potential overruns with workshop staff involved for future learning and continuous improvement. I undertake all invoicing, so I job cost every job to ensure I investigate any overruns for future learning and continuous improvement.
For more information or to discuss the technology call Sean O’Sullivan on 027 228 4211.
Innovative plastics: Recycling technology follows Igus investment
HydroPRS pioneer Mura Technology has begun construction of the world’s first commercially operated hydrothermal upgrading plastic recycling plant in the UK.
It is one of the most pressing challenges of our time: 8 million tonnes of plastic enters the world’s oceans every year; much of the plastic is incinerated and only 14% is recycled. This results in an economic loss of 80 billion dollars per year says igus.
At the same time, new plastic is continuously being produced from petroleum, which is associated with high CO2 emissions. This use already accounts for 6% of global oil production, which is expected to increase to 20% by 2050.
With the “Hydrothermal Plastic Recycling Solution” (HydroPRS for short), described as a groundbreaking new technology, igus says it will enable an entry into a sustainable circular economy for plastics.
“HydroPRS has the potential to recycle all types of plastic and prevent plastic from being burned or landfilled and polluting the environment. It is estimated that each tonne of plastic processed via advanced recycling could save 1.5 tonnes of CO2 compared to incineration. To convert plastic waste into valuable chemicals and oil, HydroPRS utilises the Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor technology (Cat-HTR) developed by Licella Holdings Limited using water, heat and pressure. This method is particularly interesting where mechanical recycling has not been successful so far, for example, with mixed and contaminated plastics.”
Use it instead of wasting it:
Hydrothermal Plastic Recycling Solution (HydroPRS): Plastic waste, that would otherwise pollute the environment, can be reused as a valuable raw material through chemical recycling within 25 minutes. To advance this revolutionary technology worldwide, motion plastics specialist igus is now increasing its investment in Mura Technology to around 5 million euros. Another major industrial partner, KBR, partnered with Mura in January.
Valuable resource instead of harmful waste
This potential has excited motion plastics specialist igus, who last year invested in a company that plans to commission the first commercial HydroPRS plant in 2022.
Now igus has increased its investment in Mura Technology to a total of €5 million.
“We know about the great possibilities that plastic has. Our tribo-polymers are used millions of times in moving applications all over the world, where they reduce weight, maintenance and lubrication,” says Frank Blase, managing director of igus. “We’re helping to make plastic a material that does not harm our world but helps through almost 100% recycling.” Mechanical recycling is an important step in this direction. For example, igus has been regranulating 99% of the plastic waste generated in production for over 50 years. At the end of 2019, igus additionally initiated the chainge programme: igus takes back energy chains at the end of a machine’s life, irrespective of the manufacturer, pays a voucher, regranulates the plastic and then processes it again.
“In the future, chemical recycling will be able to play out its advantages where classic recycling cannot get anywhere. That is why we are supporting Mura in this start-up phase to help this groundbreaking technology achieve a breakthrough worldwide.”
Global success through investment and co-operation
Mura Technology has now also succeeded in appointing KBR as an exclusive licence partner for further expansion. KBR, with its 28,0000 employees, is active in more than 80 countries, among other things as a planner, plant builder and operator of refineries and chemical plants. “We knew that as a start-up company we had developed a highly innovative and promising technology,” Oliver Borek, managing director Europe at Mura Technology, points out. “However, it was also clear to us that we would never be able to roll it out on a large scale under our own steam. Thanks to igus’ investment in this crucial phase, as well as the establishment and expansion of further partnerships, we now have this opportunity.” Construction of the first HydroPRS plant by Mura at the UK’s Wilton International industrial site has now started and is expected to be operational in the second half of 2022. A total of four Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactors will be built there to process over 80,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually. In addition, further plants are planned in Germany, the USA and Asia.
Gearing up smarter manufacturing
Disruptor thermoplastics drive further into Industry 4.0 gear markets once rusted on to metals.
Engineering thermoplastic gear, guidance and conveyor component systems have become disruptor technologies in production engineering as Industry 4.0 produces smarter factories and processing plants that are more efficient, hygienic, productive and less wasteful.
Materials such as Wearlon nylon gears, Wearace acetal gears, and Wearex UHMWPE drive components – material types originally introduced to the market to fill niche applications – are more often becoming materials of first choice, says Cut To Size Plastics.
This is happening as machine builders and production engineers seek out materials that will enable their digitally communicating Industry 4.0 systems to function faster, with closer tolerances, less maintenance and downtime, easier washdown and less need for constant lubrication, attracting grit and wear.
“Thermoplastic technology is advancing quickly to fill many needs and these materials are extremely tough. Ultra-High Molecular Weight (UHMW) gear racks in use internationally, for example, have shown part lives multiple times longer – sometimes 10 or more times longer – than their metal predecessors,” says Australasian engineering thermoplastics pioneer and managing director of Cut To Size Plastics, Laurie Green.
“While most gears were traditionally made from various metals, plastic gear technology is pushing the previous limits of load bearing, torque handling, and gear drive capabilities. As well as being highly suitable for new machinery, these plastic gears and gear racks can be identical in design to their existing metal predecessors, making them directly interchangeable with steel and other OEM and custom metal gears and racks.”
Different plastics benefits
Self-lubrication is a key benefit of Wearlon nylon gears because a constant issue with many metal drive gears is the need for external lubrication, a major problem when gears are hard to access or where lubricant will only exacerbate a problem (eg, gears that operate in high dust or gritty environments), says Green.
“Wearace acetal is a great choice for plastic gears, for example, because the typical objective in such a device is to minimise the friction resulting from contact. Acetal is very slippery (it has a very low coefficient of friction) and therefore minimal energy is lost in the internal contact interaction between gears.
“Wearex ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) and other high-performance plastic gears and gear racks offer wear and noise reduction advantages over comparable metal products. UHMWPE is generally looked to when impact resistance is key,” says Green, whose company has more than 40 years’ experience as a provider of OEM and custom parts that replace metals to increase productivity, decrease downtime and lead to greater revenue for customers while maintaining the specifications required by the equipment, project and application.
Cut To Size has worked with industries, extending from food and beverage and primary livestock and crop processing, through to machine building, resources, materials handling, construction and manufacturing to develop hard-wearing OEM and easily retrofitted gear components for multiple applications.
“Major advances in engineering thermoplastics formulation technologies – and a growing realisation of their unique benefits – mean industry no longer is as firmly rusted on to metals drives as it once was. Today, the options are far more plentiful and attractive.
“While there is no one ideal answer to all applications – whether you are considering metals or thermoplastics – it is important to consider all the options and not automatically revert to old choices that may no longer be optimum for new needs.
“It could be that old choices are best, but it could be more likely that a cheaper, more durable and better performing alternative has evolved in response to Industry 4.0.”
When selecting a plastic material for a specific application, Green says it is important to base the choice on critical properties associated with the task, such as thermal expansion, or the plastic’s ability to change in shape, area, and volume in response to temperature changes. The coefficient of thermal expansion is the degree of expansion divided by the change in temperature. The higher the coefficient number, the more change in size. Several major thermoplastic compounds exhibit acceptable thermal expansion performance. Three of the most commonly used are:
Wearlon nylons, which are well-suited for use in food contact applications, such as food processing and packaging conveyor systems. The Wearlon family shares major advantages such as high mechanical strength, hardness and stiffness, as well as high mechanical damping capacity. They offer good fatigue and very high wear resistance, with good sliding and emergency running properties.
They are suitable for machinery subject to constant moisture and washdown. These properties, along with good machinability, lend them to typical applications such as bearings, guides, chain wheels and guides, bushings and slide and guide plates, toothed racks, mixer rollers, guide rails, rope pulleys, bearings, tappets, cam discs, gear wheels, transport stars, mixer blades, pump wheels, pinions, curved guides, crane supports and idler and guide rollers.
Wearace polyacetal, a cost-efficient material which offers excellent strength, stiffness, and dimensional stability as well as wear resistance and easy machining. Acetal has an 80-120 coefficient of thermal expansion, and, as a polyoxymethylene (POM) homopolymer, a high-end temperature of 120 deg C while the POM copolymer has a temperature range of – 40 to 120 deg C.
Wearace polyacetal, while typically specified for handling lesser loads than nylons, is eminently suitable and highly cost-efficient for sliding, guiding and roller elements of materials handling machinery. Typical uses that benefit from Wearace’s properties include gear wheels with small moduli, cams, heavily loaded bearings and rollers, bearings and gears with small clearances, valve seats, snap fit assemblies, and insulating components for electrical engineering and parts which operate continuously in water of 60 deg C – 80 deg C.
“The most popular property of POM is its ease of machining. It is also very hard and abrasion resistant, and it is more resistant to creep, which is the tendency for material to stay bent if left under a stress for too long. POM is also resistant to chemicals. It is generally unaffected by solvents, fuels and lubricants found in industrial environments.”
Industry-specific examples of Wearace applications range from scraper blades on gelatine extruders, buffer blocks on electromagnetic bogie brakes and ratchet wheels on stapling machines. Being physiologically inert, Wearace is highly suitable for food contact applications in natural form.
UHMWPE is a thermoplastic polyethylene featuring extremely high molecular density. It is highly durable, with the highest impact resistance of all thermoplastics with great abrasion and heat resistance.
It’s another plastic well-suited for food and beverage industry applications. It has a 130-200 coefficient of thermal expansion and a high-end temperature of 95C.
“UHMW and other high-performance plastic gears and gear racks offer wear and noise reduction advantages over comparable metal products. UHMW materials are generally looked to when impact resistance is key,” says Green, whose company offers high-strength, custom-designed and OEM replacement parts for gears and other power transmission components used in industrial and commercial applications.
Design Energy, quality and consistency go hand-in-hand
Quality has become a defining factor and a major competitive advantage for companies offering the same or similar products.
In the manufacturing sector the pursuit for quality (and excellence) remains firmly at its forefront, explains James McKew, regional director for Universal Robots Asia-Pacific.
“Quality is at the heart of every successful business, and for many, it’s a constant chase to maintain and even improve it,” says McKew.
“Every company starts out with the intention of delivering high-class quality to happy customers, however, as the business grows and the production touchpoints increase, so do the opportunities for errors, and this is where an increase in cost and a decrease in profit lives too comfortably.
“Our definition of quality goes beyond product features. We focus on a customer’s total costs which includes life cycle costs such as expenses on service and maintenance,” he adds.
Quality and consistency
McKew says that Universal Robots has seen an uptick in customers interested in exploring the benefits of collaborative robots (cobots) to deliver continuous and consistent quality – with emphasis on Australia and New Zealand.
“Despite being armed with digital callipers and other tools for quality and inspection tasks, human workers simply cannot achieve the same levels of accuracy and consistency provided by robots – making these tasks an ideal fit for automation.”
He adds that while automation has had its fair share of resistance in the past, it is now being embraced by manufacturers both big and small – particularly with the urgent need for local manufacturing, reshoring, increased productivity, and competitive pricing.
“Automation is proving to give companies a competitive advantage. Competition is ‘hotting up’ in our economic climate where lockdowns, social distancing, additional costs surrounding health and safety, supply chain issues and extreme pressure on pricing is at the fore.”
In particular, the emergence of cost effective, easy-to-use cobots over the past decade has changed all that, making advanced automation easily accessible to companies of all sizes.
Electronics industry on the rise
The electronics and semi-conductor industries are of keen interest with James reporting that Universal Robots has seen a greater demand for cobots across these sectors.
“With people working from home the demand for home entertainment, white goods and other personal electronics in Australia and New Zealand have surged.”
According to Statista, revenue in the consumer electronics segment is projected to reach US$4,494 million this year and is expected to show an annual growth rate of 4.5% internationally.
“This presents great prospects for automation leaders,” says McKew.
JVC – An electronics success story
JVC Electronics, a leader in electronics and entertainment products looked to Universal Robots to improve productivity and ensure consistent quality at its subsidiary in Indonesia.
In an age of consumerism where every cent counts James notes that consumers are demanding higher quality goods at lower costs. “Eliminating human error and committing to ‘zero defects’ ensures zero wastage and a smooth-running production line. This also allows companies like JVC to be more competitive.”
JVC Electronics Indonesia (JEIN) was heavily dependent on manual processes and saw the increasing need to automate. “JEIN manufactures over 400,000 products each month. Turnaround time and quality is critical to meeting its production targets, and the safety of its workers is always top-of-mind.”
To meet the electronics giant’s needs, Universal Robots recommended the UR3 cobot. “Compact and lightweight, UR3 cobots were selected to increase productivity and to achieve consistent output quality, “says McKew. “They were easy to operate, required less maintenance and were competitively priced. They also met the company’s requirements of space saving, flexibility, and safety.”
The UR3 cobots relieved staff from handling high risk tasks such as soldering and separating cut PCB parts, which emit hazardous fumes and dust particles.
Sukijan, plant supervisor at JEIN says: “One of the key features of the UR3 cobot is its force control for adaptive safety; it senses external forces and stops immediately when a collision is detected. Our workers are able to work in close proximity with the cobots with no safety guarding, after risk assessment.”
“These cobots now perform these dull and repetitive tasks while the staff can focus on adding value to the business. The company has improved both their production efficiency and output quality. Operational costs have been reduced by more than US$ 80,000 annually. Thanks to the success of this project, JVC is now looking to deploy cobots in other countries,” says McKew.
Find out more
Universal Robots hosts regular webinars to help customers get started with cobots and explore automation opportunities. Support, service and maintenance are available locally, as well as training offerings through the online UR Academy, global network of Authorised Training Centres, and UR’s extensive UR+ ecosystem. For more information contact Design Energy on
03 943 2143, email@example.com.
Competenz ‘job matching’ ends searching for the ‘right’ school leaver
After years of searching for a new recruit for their business, Auckland engineering firm Stainless Machinings turned to the free Competenz job matching service to find an ideal candidate. In the space of a few short months, school leaver Stuart Martin joined the company.
“We’d been trying to recruit a young person for a couple of years,” says Stainless Machinings owner Brian Lawry. “We’d been in touch with local high schools to arrange work experience at our precision component business and liaised with many career advisors and even advertised at Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT), but with no success.
“We then contacted industry training organisation Competenz, who advertised the position on their website jobs board. Shortly after that, we were advised that two potential people had been found and Competenz started the process of talking to them to assess their suitability and then arranged interviews with us. From there, we chose Stuart, who we’ve since offered an apprenticeship with us.
“Competenz provided us with an excellent service and took all the hard work out of finding someone.”
In January 2021 Stuart, who was 17 at the time, started with the company and has now enrolled in a mechanical engineering, fitting and machining apprenticeship.
“I studied Level 1 engineering at school and decided to work in the industry because I like making things and solving problems,” he says. “It was while I was at MIT doing a school course that Competenz sent me job opportunities that were tailored to what I wanted to do. I felt like this was a great step. It should only take me three or four years until I’m fully qualified.”
Brian says Stuart has an excellent attitude, is keen to learn and has fitted seamlessly into the business. “His family also has engineering experience, so he has a natural interest in it.”
Competenz recruitment executive Brenda James says the job matching service takes away a lot of work for both employers and learners, and ensures the right ‘fit’. And once in place, a training advisor will work with the employer and employee to find the most suitable apprenticeship or training programme for them. In this case, it’s a win-win: Brian gets his new employee to train, and Stuart gets a bright start in his engineering career.
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