Ford Dagenham has invested in seven of Universal Robots’ UR10 units — supplied by Shefford-based (Bedfordshire) RARUK Automation Ltd (www.rarukautomation.com
) — to automate the previously manual task of applying fasteners to engine blocks that arrive on the production line every 30sec, across a 24hr three-shift operation.
The engine-manufacturing plant at Dagenham employs over 1,800 people and produces about 750,000 diesel engines a year for passenger cars and vans.
Its current products include Duratorq TDCi engines (in five sizes) for models that include the Fiesta, Focus, B-MAX, C-MAX, Grand C-MAX, Ecosport, Transit and Transit Connect.
Until recently, the task of securing exhaust manifolds to the engine blocks using M8 studs and nuts, as well as different types of barrel nut, was performed by an employee using an electric power tool.
However, to help improve cost efficiency and reduce RSI, the company identified the process as ‘a suitable candidate for automation’, as up to six studs and nuts are needed on each engine block.
With units from the Danish manufacturer Universal Robots already operating successfully elsewhere in the Ford plant, the team at Dagenham contacted UK sales and support agent RARUK Automation; all seven robots were up and running by December 2018.
A vibratory bowl is used to ‘feed’ individual fasteners, which are blown through a tube using compressed air to an escapement for picking up by a robot and screwing into the engine block.
Though renowned for their collaborative operational capabilities, the UR10s at Ford Dagenham are currently being deployed as ‘cohabitant’ robots rather than true cobots, thereby avoiding the need to reorganise and re-certify the production line from a safety perspective, saving time and cost.
The UR10 from Universal Robots offers a reach of 1,300mm and a 10kg payload.