Tel:+44(0)121 748 4600 Fax:+44(0)121 730 2745 Email: Search
The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation

Working hand in hand with Cobots

Date: Monday 25 October 2021

“Freudenberg Sealing Technologies is currently using cobots at eight locations,” said Ralf Maisack, who is pressing ahead with the strategic development of cobots in the company’s Technology & Innovation unit. “For example, a stationary, one-armed robot has taken over simple assembly tasks at the Findlay facility in the United States. We are also using a two-armed cobot in Luserna, Italy, and mobile cobots in Bristol and Newcastle in the UK.”

The new coworker in the Simmerring® final assembly area seems quite unremarkable. He neither rotates his head 360 degrees like R2-D2 in Star Wars nor does he speak in a tinny voice.

This variety of robot was created to collaborate with human beings. That is the origin of its name: cobot is short for “collaborative robot.” For years, industrial robots have not been able to work hand- in-hand with people. They could only work within cages for safety reasons. Cobots, on the other hand, are small, light and agile and are designed for small loads and slow speeds. Unlike classic industrial robots, cobots are small, lightweight and flexible. They are already in use in the Simmerring® final assembly area at the main Freudenberg Sealing Technologies factory in Weinheim.

First of all, it reaches into a dispenser and removes a Simmerring® from the bar feeder. Then it swivels toward a specially developed workstation and presses the Simmerring® onto a cone so that the metal spring to be mounted springs at precisely the desired point. The cobot then takes the Simmerring® off the cone again, moves it to the lubricator and presses it with positive-locking onto a lubricating mandrel. Here the crucial factor is that the cobot is linked with the machine control system via a data cable. This allows it to communicate with the system and actively trigger the signal to perform the lubrication. The quality control after the lubrication is also important. It is only when the machine reports that the process has functioned error-free that the cobot removes the Simmerring® from the lubricating mandrel, swivels to a delivery table and stacks finished products by the dozens. A human being is then needed to carry out the final inspection and package the rings.

A cobot never works alone. It always works with a human being. Since the speed and strength of a cobot are limited for safety reasons, it is suited for work with medium degrees of automation and complexity.