Leather goods production using no-code robotics

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High quality is a top priority in the leather goods industry. To remain competitive, manufacturers must convert their production processes to the latest technologies. MEPCA found out how the Italian machine builder Galli ventured into robotics and developed a robot-based flexible automation solution for processing leather pieces using ArtiMinds Robot Programming Suite software.

Galli SpA develops innovative systems and machines for the leather goods industry. To produce leather goods, numerous work steps are necessary, and it is vital to guarantee high and consistent quality. Many processes have to be supported or carried out by employees but often involve very monotonous or unergonomic tasks. To increase productivity and also remain globally competitive, Galli was asked by a customer to develop a customised automation solution that could handle the grinding, polishing and dyeing of the edges of leather pieces for products such as belts or bags.

 

Staying competitive 

To achieve the highest possible level of automation, Galli added a robot to the machine to take over steps previously performed manually. However, since the process could not be fully automated and temporary support for the worker was still necessary, it was decided to integrate a cobot from Universal Robots. This option was chosen because it can be used safely next to or in interaction with humans without the need for safety fencing.

Roberto Verduci, R&D Manager at Galli, said: “It is particularly important to provide the best possible support to the operator using the latest modern technologies and choosing appropriate solutions and tools so that the user no longer needs specific knowledge”.

The machine builder did not have any experience in the implementation of robotics applications up to that point. Therefore, Universal Robots recommended that Roberto reviewed the ArtiMinds Robot Programming Suite (RPS). He quickly realised what a great time saver and simplifier the intuitive, function block-based graphical programming was.

“The software is so intuitive to use that we didn’t need to take any training,” continued Roberto.

Thanks to ArtiMinds, Galli could complete the project, from design to programming to implementation, without an external integrator.

 

Minimum programming effort 

The cut leather pieces are passed to the robot by a worker in a container. The robot picks them up from the box and guides them to the machine. To process the edges and carry out the actual work step, it moves the leather pieces back and forth along their cut edges on firmly positioned, paint-impregnated rollers. The robot must constantly adjust its orientation and alignment so that the leather pieces touch down on the rollers correctly. Similar to the principle of a ballpoint pen, the ink is then transferred to the leather edges.

A major challenge in the application is the large number of different belts, buckles and other leather goods processed with the machine. This is because the varying geometries require constant adaptation of the robot program. Thanks to the CAD2Path function of ArtiMinds RPS, however, this problem can be easily solved. Instead of time-consuming teach-in of all points with the robot, (geometrically complex) profiles can be imported from CAD models and the software automatically generates the exact robot path from this. But it is not only this feature that leads to considerable time savings in the programming phase. Auxiliary functions such as wizards simplify the parameterisation of the individual function blocks. Thanks to the 3D simulation environment in the software, it is possible to perform collision and reachability analyses in the planning phase and offline mode.”

 

Higher quality and productivity

Robot-based automation of processes previously carried out manually by the operator has increased productivity and produced a consistent quality level that, overall, is even higher than before.

According to Roberto, there is no comparable alternative to the ArtiMinds Robot Programming Suite: “We had looked at other software solutions, but realised that these were not suitable due to the high complexity in programming. With ArtiMinds, on the other hand, we found a beneficial tool with a convincing price-performance ratio.”

www.artiminds.com

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