Customers & case studies

Case study 2: Pick-it helps automating labor intensive pick and place tasks in industry

At Rademakers Foundry, a Dutch manufacturer specialized in producing cast iron parts, robots with 3D vision are used to automate labor intensive, repetitive tasks, such as handling heavy cast iron parts. The Dutch manufacturer already installed one vision guided robot in production and will be adding more systems in the future. Read this case story to learn how Pick-it enables automation by providing a flexible, easy-to-use solution, and how it helps improving ergonomics in the workspace.

General information

  • Company: Rademakers Foundry
  • Industry: Manufacturing
  • Country: The Netherlands
  • Number of employees: 100-249
  • Application: Pick and place, machine loading [Link to machine loading page on website]
  • Robot brand: Fanuc

Automation challenge

If you ever walked the streets in the Netherlands, chances are that you stepped on one of the manhole covers produced at Rademakers Foundry in the north of Holland. Rademakers Foundry is specialized in producing high quality cast iron products. The metal is processed in the factory at a maximum rate of 11 tons an hour. First, it is molten at 1200 degrees Celsius, then moulded to produce a large number raw cast iron products in a fully automatic way. and finally, after this melting step, the products go through a second finishing step. Here, products are being grinded, painted or immersed with a focus on precision and quality. It’s a process where still a lot of manual work is involved.

The circular manhole covers produced here, each weigh around 50 kg. During the manufacturing process, they need to be picked up from an industrial loading cart, turned around and placed in a fixture for grinding. It’s needless to say that this is an extremely labor intensive and repetitive task for humans.

To improve ergonomics in the workplace, Rademakers Foundry decided to work together with Gentic Robotics, a Dutch system integrator, towards a robotic solution for handling and grinding the cast iron disks. This is where they decided to use Pick-it.

Solution

The robotic solution to automatically pick, grind and place the manhole covers combines a Fanuc robot with a Pick-it 3D vision solution and custom gripper. Pick-it is used to locate the covers and send them to the robot for picking. The Fanuc R-2000iB robot, with maximum payload of 210 kg, then moves with high precision to the disk that was recognized by Pick-it and firmly grasps it with its custom-built pneumatic gripper. Automating the grinding itself is still a work in progress.

The added values of the Pick-it 3D vision system in this application are flexibility and ease of use. As the disks are not always perfectly stacked on top of each other in the cart and can be upside down, Pick-it is required to locate and orient the parts so the robot can move accurately towards them.

Pick-it 3D camera with Fanuc robot picking cast iron disks at Rademakers Foundry in the Netherlands.

Johnny Grooten, owner of Gentic Robotics and Fanuc programmer: “We were very impressed by the ease of use of the Pick-it software. After a one day of training with Pick-it, we were able to build the robot cell by ourselves. Also the integration with the Fanuc robot went smoothly. Since we love the combo of Pick-it with Fanuc, we already started building a second bin picking application.”

<iframe src="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fkNDxN7aHjEBd-xax01aoUZZQIk5yEoA/preview" width="640" height="480"></iframe>

In the video, Pick-it accurately locates the covers and sends the coordinates to the Fanuc robot for picking. The Fanuc robot, equipped with a custom gripper for the covers, picks them up with high precision and places them on a second cart. The grinding step in between was still work in progress at the time of writing.

The robot cell is now able to handle more parts than can be produced. This opens the door to increase production volumes at Rademakers Foundry. We are already keeping an eye on the bright future of this company, are you as well?

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