Automation: Plastics specialist cuts costs with ABB robots

Posted on 8 May 2014 by Callum Bentley

To meet cost targets and maintain quality standards across its three sites in Ireland, Czech Republic and South Carolina, USA, plastic parts supplier Mergon International relies on 37 industrial robots from ABB.

The robots, installed over the last two years, are used for cutting, drilling and assembling the moulded parts, offering accurate, repeatable performance. But these are not the first; the company has been operating ABB robots for the past 15 years.

“We selected ABB based on the quality of the hardware and because the company offers local support as well as global availability,” says Aisling Nolan, general manager of Mergon International.

For the same reasons, the company also selected AC and DC drives from ABB for running extruders on its blow moulding machines.

The equipment at the Irish plant, where 23 of the robots are installed, was supplied and integrated by Robotics and Drives of Ireland, ABB Robotics’ official Authorized Value Provider (AVP).

Mergon International manufactures technical plastic mouldings for the automotive, industrial and healthcare sectors.

“Using robots allows us to be competitive.  Without automating our processes we simply could not compete in the marketplace. We almost always seek to automate processes if it makes commercial sense and ABB is a great partner in this respect,” says Nolan.

When installing robots, the company looks for payback within one year, something that generally is achieved.

The robots enable high plant utilisation with the maximum possible processing in an unbroken chain. Mouldings are received from the machines, excess material removed and moulding flash ground off, before the parts are placed on a pallet in a set pattern designed to facilitate the next operation. With the use of robots, the manufacturing steps are linked together, cutting total cycle time and reducing the amount of capital tied up.

Mergon operates three ranges of ABB robots. These are selected depending on the application, the payload and the reach required.

The company uses 18 ABB robots from the 6000 series, the most accurate and rigid robot in its class. This features a well-proven design that, together with a minimum of maintenance, ensures high production up-time. Advanced motion control and collision detection reduce the risk of tool and work piece damage. The control system ensures the robot always optimises acceleration and retardation to actual load, path accuracy and position repeatability, resulting in the shortest cycle time possible.