Fujitsu has started using robots “side by side” with humans in its production lines.
This is the first use of robotics on a production line in the same vicinity as human workers without the need to restrict them to fenced off areas, claims the manufacturer of electronics components.
Vera Schneevoigt, senior VP of product supply operations at Fujitsu EMEIA, said this type of human-robot collaboration was an “integral part of Industry 4.0”.
“We are pioneering a new method of assembling precision electronics components that reduces the need for human operators to perform repetitive, mundane tasks, lowers the risk of potential manufacturing defects and raises production outputs,” she said.
Working in partnership with robotics firm Kuka, Fujitsu fully integrated a robot into its computer mainboard production line in January at its Digital Smart Factory in Augsburg, German. The company said it has already helped boost manufacturing efficiency, accuracy and quality. A second robot will be added later this year.
The robots are taught by humans by manually guiding their arm before the motion is reinforced with machine learning with no need for any additional programming. The robots can then carry out monotonous or repetitive tasks at high speed, but can sense when a human worker is nearby and automatically slows down their movements so as not to cause injuries.
Fujitsu and Kuka said they plan to add explore other areas where this type or robotics can be used, including predictive maintenance and quality control.
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