Rob, a Cobot, is the newest type of “employee” at P1. Cobot is the short term for a collaborative robot. This type of robot is specifically built and programmed to work safely with humans.
P1 Technologies employed its first cobot early in the 1st quarter of 2019 in an effort to provide cost savings to our customers. The cobot is a UR5e from Universal Robots. We fondly call him Rob. Its main task is to pick and place fixtures for an overmolding process. Rob works with an operator who presents the fixtures and does the next operation after molding.
This year, P1 has expanded Rob’s capacity. A Continuous Improvement team, led by Maria Pontiveros, launched a project at the end of July 2020 to have the cobot support two cells instead of one. Each cell is designed to process a certain product at the same time but is flexible enough to run both with very minimal change over time - as when customer demand changes. A critical component was designing a new mold with dual cavities that could handle two types of products in the same family. P1’s Engineering team worked together with our in-house Mold Design, Tooling, and Manufacturing groups to take on the challenge. They even added features in the mold that are automation-friendly.
The other major task was customizing an end of arm tooling that could handle the “pick and place” process for both cells. P1’s 3D Modeling Design and Printing capabilities made this task easy. The design concept instantaneously sprang into reality, which is a big plus during the prototyping and debugging phase.
With UR’s flexible and intuitive programming language, Rob has been redeployed once again. This time, he is quite busy working concurrently with two operators, 24/5.
By: Maria N. Pontiveros