In the summer of 2019, Sun Chemical implemented a new robotic application in Frankfurt to support its continued growth by improving the production line with a Kawasaki RD080N robot.
Sun Chemical, a member of the DIC group, is a leading producer of printing inks, coatings and supplies, pigments, polymers, liquid compounds, solid compounds, and application materials. Together with DIC, Sun Chemical has annual sales of more than $7.5 billion and over 20,000 employees supporting customers around the world. At its production site in Frankfurt am Main Sun Chemical manufactures printing inks for direct delivery of products to customers in Europe and the rest of the world. Recently, the demands on the production capacities at Sun Chemical in Frankfurt am Main increased considerably, so that the need for appropriate automation quickly became clear and was also confirmed by the US group management. The goal of the new solution: to achieve a sustainable improvement in the efficiency and productivity of existing processes.
The finished ink is filled into 3-kilogram buckets, sealed, and automatically labelled. A Kawasaki RD080N robot is equipped with a specially designed vacuum gripper and transports the closed, labelled buckets to a waiting pallet. With a maximum payload of 80 kg and a reach of 2,100 mm, the RD080N is designed specifically for palletizing applications. With industry leading work range and reliability, the high-speed palletizing robot helps companies improve production line efficiency. As soon as the pallet is completely loaded, it is removed by an employee via a roller conveyor for film wrapping as well as further loading and replaced by an empty pallet.
The robot can resume operation immediately after the change. Particularly good for long-term planning: the system and the robot are currently running at only 50 to 80 percent of the available maximum capacity - there is still plenty of room to adapt to increasing requirements. The system forms the end of the production process and can quickly become the bottleneck of production. But since it has been commissioned, the production capacity has been consistently higher.
In addition to increasing production capacity and long-term cost savings, the focus was also on relieving the ergonomic strain on employees. The handling of the paint buckets, the pallets as well as the regular readjustment were challenging for the employees in the long run - especially for older colleagues or those with physical complaints.
Despite initial scepticism, the system and the robot were quickly accepted and appreciated by all employees, reports Manuel Krause:
The solution must be robust and reliable - then it will be accepted. And if it is not too complex and makes the daily work of our colleagues easier, even more so".
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