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Geek+ launches smart factory with ‘robots making robots’

Geek+, a supplier of robotics and AI technologies for warehouses, has launched what it claims is “the world’s first smart factory to use robot arms to make mobile robots”.

Based in Nanjing, the factory uses Geek+’ robots, AI algorithms and other automated solutions to manufacture new Geek+ robots. All of the company’s robots are produced at this factory.

With an increasing demand for customization and limited release products, product cycles are getting shorter and shorter, making flexible production an essential aspect of the manufacturing industry.

Autonomous mobile robots in factories are the best way to achieve flexible production and can also help companies realize a smart and agile supply chain.

With this objective, the company has launched its Geek+ Smart Factory Solution, using its Nanjing facility as a blueprint for flexible production and intelligent manufacturing.

All Geek+ robots are produced at the Nanjing facility

Geek+ says it can adapt and implement the smart factory template to manufacturing facilities worldwide, and customize the solution to meet various production and industrial scenarios.

With over 200 projects across the world, Geek+ has gained considerable experience and data knowledge developing smart logistics solutions for warehousing and manufacturing environments.

It has developed new AI algorithms for scenarios spanning numerous industries, from retail and apparel, to manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies.

Through this, the company has built an ecosystem with international technology partners to develop a total solution for smart warehouses and smart factories including AI vision, robot arms, and internet of things, production management system, logistics management system, big data analysis and advanced robotics.

With its Smart Factory Solution, Geek+ says it is helping customers upgrade their operations to an intelligent and agile supply chain.

Robots making robots

The Nanjing factory output has almost doubled traditional manual production capacity, and single-shift annual production is designed to exceed 10,000 robots. Under a production logistics management system, the robots operate together.

They include:

  • Robotic arms, PLC, smart camera, automatic tightening machine for automated production;
  • Geek+ Moving System: P800 robots deployed using QR code navigation to carry shelves for inventory management, M1000 robots using QR code and SLAM navigation to store, load and unload WIPs, allowing flexible distribution in the automated production station; and
  • Geek+ Forklift System: unmanned forklifts using SLAM navigation to access the entire pallet without ground modification.

The robots are powered by AI technologies including:

  • Scheduling: scheduling algorithms to ensure optimal efficiency and that the robots can figure best path to move around and communicate with each other.
  • Vision: the robot arm station is equipped with an industrial vision system. In additional to the positioning and assembly function required for the production of the robot arm, it can also identify the process of repairing the product, the remaining condition of the auxiliary materials, and the type of work in progress, so as to achieve a more flexible automated production process.
  • Business: an intelligent operating system for the inventory and production area configured to understand and implement required business processes such as shelf heat management, work in process management and bottleneck process optimization.

Once assembled, the new robots direct themselves to the calibration area to receive basic parameter settings.

They automatically complete final testing and finished product inspection after which they directly proceed to the finished product area to be packaged and ready to ship.

Geek+ smart factory management system, powered by AI

To operate smart factories, Geek+ has developed a new integrated system, the Geek+ Production Logistics Management System. It powers all aspects of the facility, from inventory to the production line, integrating logistics and production into a flexible and efficient system. It connects the stock area with the production area and unifies the management of all the different robotic solutions.

This system replaces the traditional conveyor belt system with a new “island production mode” of autonomous mobile robots.

These production islands can be easily duplicated and the solution is a completely flexible and scalable:

  • Multiple products can now be produced in one production line, replacing the single product line.
  • The whole process can be easily adjusted in the system, providing an effortless solution to bottleneck processes.
  • The production line layout no longer needs to be planned in advance. It is adjustable according to the business requirements and can be implemented step by step.

This new intelligent and flexible production model offers a real alternative to costly and rigid conveyor belts.

A ‘game changer’ for intelligent manufacturing

Production capacity has almost doubled, compared to traditional manual production, with annual output expected to exceed 10,000 robots.

The new solution also guarantees more precise process control and higher accuracy with a straight-through rate for the final assembly are exceeding 98 percent, and higher traceability of the whole process, which reduces overall management cost.

Yong Zheng, founder and CEO of Geek+, says: “Smart factories will be a turning point for the entire industry as they provide a truly proven alternative to traditional, fixed production and achieve flexible production.

“What better way to show to the world the value of our solutions than to apply it to our own production? Our Nanjing factory is a window into the future of intelligent logistics and manufacturing.”

The Geek+ smart factory solution is applicable to a wide range of industries, including automobile manufacturers, auto part factories and 3C electronics factories.

It is particularly well suited for industries that require more flexible manufacturing processes, to keep up with the demand for new product lines and allow for capacity expansion.

With smart factories, trial production of new products and product line transformation can be easily implemented, says Geek+.

Zheng says: “In the past four years, we have already developed and implemented game changing technologies for warehousing operations. With smart factories, we continue to pave the way for a truly intelligent supply chain.”