Low cost automation concept with ‘robot in a box’

Posted on 4 Oct 2011 by The Manufacturer

Automation consultancy GB Innomech launches RoBox, a new concept in low cost robotics designed to help manufacturers cut costs by automating product manufacturing processes.

RoBox – a ‘robot in a box’ – uses a fast, highly accurate robot that can be customised to carry out repetitive or hazardous product assembly, or quality testing, tasks in applications where it can be difficult to recruit or retain staff.

Initial target markets include healthcare, consumer, industrial and food product manufacturing.

The developers say that RoBox can be quickly and easily reconfigured without its operators needing any specialist programming knowledge.

Innomech says Ro-Box is a low cost solution designed to help manufacturers who are resistant to high cost automation solutions gain access to automation.

“Robot-based automation is widely accepted as one of the best ways for companies to save costs but many UK manufacturers are reluctant to invest, compared with other developed nations because of outdated views about cost, set-up time and reliability,” said David Beale, technical director at Innomech. “Our novel approach is based on a new generation of high performance, industrial robots that are essentially general purpose tools which can be easily and inexpensively reprogrammed to handle multiple new tasks,”

Flexible, automated workcells such as RoBox are also being increasingly adopted to help manufacturers protect their businesses from costs that are frequently over-looked when calculating the full labour costs associated with manual manufacturing methods.

Examples include time lost from staff sickness or holidays, heating and lighting costs, the cost of personal protective clothing and the commercial risk of an occupational injury or litigation claim resulting from conditions such as Repetitive Strain Injury.

A recent report from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work provides cause for manufacturers to review their processes and consider automating some. The report found that, in increasing number of RSI cases, low skilled manufacturing jobs were usually most at risk, and repeated hand and arm movements – common in some assembly operations – are the single biggest risk factor.