Chipper new foursome for Hansa

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Chipper new foursome for Hansa

By Jenny Pretorius

Quality instructions in, quality work out – even a robot performs better with a precise job description, according to Hamilton-based Hansa Chippers who recently made a significant investment in new equipment.

The company, established in 1980, designs and manufactures wood chippers for the domestic, commercial and export markets. In May the team commissioned an ABB IRB2600ID robot, an ABB IRBP_C500/1000 workpiece positioner, ABB RobotStudio software and a Kemppi Welder, bought from ABB working alongside Global Welding Supplies.

Design and systems engineer Toby Stone says the purpose of the new acquisitions is to future-proof the company. “This will give us flexibility as we continue to grow, ensuring that the quality of our work remains high and that we will keep up with demand in years to come,” he comments.

The ABB and Global Welding Supplies teams commissioned the IRB2600ID over a two day period. However, Toby says, it is not in full production yet. Like any new employee the robot will require some ‘on the job training’, in this instance in the form of building up a fixture library and programs via RobotStudio. Toby says Hansa is the first company in New Zealand to use the RobotStudio software in conjunction with Solidworks and welding with these robots.

He explains RobotStudio, ABB’s offline simulation programming software, allows robot programming to be done on a PC in the office. It is built on the ABB VirtualController, an exact copy of the software that runs the robots in production. This allows realistic simulations to be performed, using real robot programs and configuration files identical to those used on the shop floor.

“ABB commands good word of mouth recommendation in the industry and in addition the software was instrumental in our decision to approach the team for this deal. We design our product range in 3D on Solidworks, which works seamlessly with RobotStudio. So we were able to predesign test jigs, write the program, and have both ready for production prior to installation. This meant that the commissioning, started on a Wednesday, was finished on Friday, and we were production-welding on Monday.

“I believe RobotStudio provides the tools to increase the profitability of our robot system by letting us perform tasks such as training, programming and optimization without disturbing production. All jigs and programs can be arranged, ready for deployment in the next production slot to achieve the overall goal of getting more chippers out the door. However, it will take time to build up a fixture library.

“But we can already see that the repeatability and quality advantages suit our product range and look forward to transferring all our high-quantity low-skilled work over to the machine in future,” he says.

Toby says the IRB 2600ID has impressively fast cycle times. Its compact design and integrated dressing technology–meaning the hose assembly and electrical connections are contained within the upper arm and wrist and therefore firmly secured and protected–give it a small footprint that allows for high density installations if required. A slim wrist combined with the integrated dressing means it can easily access narrow openings and perform complex movements. For example, in arc welding this means that the IRB 2600ID can do circular welds without interruption and without compromising quality.

The integrated dressing technology also means the robot can a run at maximum achievable acceleration at all times, and movements are easily predicted, contributing to high quality off-line programming.

“The ABB welding robot coupled with ABB positioner and the RobotStudio software will offer the best in welding quality, repeatability and accuracy, which will contribute to Hansa’s vision of being the best in the world. We freely recommend ABB, GWS and Kemppi to anyone who is thinking of procuring this technology.” he adds.

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