Kuka is implementing an autonomous transportation solution in its own production with the KMR iiwa mobile robot.
The company’s own robot production facility has now switched from a multiple-line system to single-line manufacturing in accordance with cutting-edge lean production methods.
The mobile Roboter KMR iiwa (KMR stands for Kuka Mobile Robotics, iiwa for intelligent industrial work assistant) is an autonomously navigating platform combined with a Kuka LBR iiwa lightweight robot.
Here (pictured), it automatically supplies production material to the KR Quantec in-line wrist assembly station. A KANBAN solution is being implemented in this assembly. The KMR iiwa takes over the distribution of screws, bolts, sealing rings, nuts and other small parts.
Kuka says human-robot collaboration (HRC) alone is not sufficient to make production more flexible in the long term.
In the near future, it must be possible for robots to be used in mobile applications. Mounted on mobile platforms, they move independently through production shops and transport goods or workpieces, thereby modernizing logistic processes in the production of tomorrow. Now, Kuka Roboter GmbH too is benefiting from this at its headquarters in Augsburg.
“We want to gear our manufacturing operations towards the future and, at the same time, considerably boost our efficiency. Our objective is to reach a capacity of over 20,000 robots per year in Augsburg. We can achieve our aim only if we restructure our robot assembly processes in accordance with the latest lean manufacturing methods,” says Andreas Ostermann von Roth, executive vice president of operations at Kuka Robotics, as to why the approximately 140-meter production line was built with a greater degree of automation.
With the KMR iiwa, Kuka is combining the strengths of the sensitive LBR iiwa lightweight robot with a mobile and autonomous platform.
At the KUKA headquarters in Augsburg, the robot has now become a location-independent, highly flexible production assistant with an unrestricted workspace – an “ideal basis” for meeting the requirements of Industry 4.0. “Flexibility is the basic prerequisite for the versatile and adaptive production of tomorrow,” says the company.