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16.09.2021

FASTSUITE Edition 2 in Sheet Metal Processing

Digital Twins: Robot optimization in a matter of hours

Robolution is a systems integrator that specializes in robot automation, with a focus on welding operations. The company was looking for a digital simulation twin to program and validate its manufacturing cells, and CENIT’s FASTSUITE Edition 2 was just the solution for the task. Robolution now saves valuable time during the commissioning phase – no more tedious and time-consuming teach-in of real-world facilities.

During the first half of 2021, about 1.4 million new vehicles were registered in Germany, says the Association of the Automotive Industry. Ever since Henry Ford first introduced assembly line production for the Model T, the basic principles of auto making have hardly changed: Car assembly is separated into a succession of individual steps, with each person on the line responsible for a specific task.

Robot have been helping with physically demanding chores for a long time and now perform most of the grunt work: Welding, soldering, pressing, flanging, gluing, riveting, screwing – all the processes that hundreds of metal parts undergo after they leave the pressing plant.

Many of the welding facilities deployed for these processes come from systems integration company Robolution. They are used e.g. for arc welding in assembly of seating or chassis components, but also for automated testing, joining and other handling jobs – the latter are usually follow-up tasks to the actual welding, but they can also be stand-alone procedures.

Robolution works with robots from four different manufacturers 

Robolution primarily installs robots by ABB, Fanuc, Kuka and Yaskawa in its facilities. Until now, the greatest challenge for Robolution was to teach the respective welding fixtures to the robot system. “To ensure that our welding devices and their fixtures – torches, supports, etc. – can work hand in hand with the respective robot systems, we either had to use different systems for simulation and programming or teach the robots manually”, says Marco Boywitt, Simulation Technician at Robolution, in describing the problem.

Seeking to resolve this dilemma, Boywitt once again turned to IT consulting and software provider CENIT: Robolution and CENIT have been collaborating ever since the automation company was established. “Robolution and CENIT have a long-standing partnership”, says Boywitt. “For example, we pooled our practical and technology experience to develop and test synchronous and asynchronous robot applications.” 

A single software for efficient simulation, programming and optimization

The next step aims to reduce the time spent on programming and validating new cells – no matter what brand of robot. “We are pleased to be able to assist Robolution in addressing this challenge, and FASTSUITE Edition 2 is just the right software for the job”, says Heiko Obmann, Senior Account Manager at CENIT. This 3D simulation platform by CENIT lets businesses cover the entire lifecycle of a production system, from the earliest conceptual design to process detailing and on to virtual commissioning and live operation.”

FASTSUITE Edition 2 offers Robolution a digital simulation twin for early-stage testing and validation of production cells: The digital twin of the robot cell enables verification and optimization of clamping setups and cell layouts before the installation is approved for physical engineering.

“We rely on FASTSUITE Edition 2 to simulate all robot movements including approach and retreat paths. Generating the robot program in this way saves an enormous amount of time during the commissioning stage, because the simulation lets us optimize everything to such a degree that we only have to make minimal corrections at the end”, is how Boywitt describes the added value.

Robot-neutral operating concept for plant operators

Obmann emphasizes that FASTSUITE Edition 2 doesn’t just boost productivity at Robolution: The software platform offers attractive benefits for plant operators as well.

The 3D simulation platform adapts to the legacy software infrastructure and optimizes the existing systems. “That begins with integration into the PLM systems, and it goes all the way to virtual commissioning. Thanks to its robot-neutral operating concept, our solution is easy to understand and offers businesses a true increase in flexibility”, says Obmann.

FASTSUITE Edition 2 is compatible with all major robot control systems. To deploy the solution, all that is needed is a simple CAD computer and a user who ideally has some prior experience with the setup of robot facilities. 

Additional benefits for automation providers: The 3D model as a demonstrator in customer dialogue

For auto manufacturing businesses, this represents a shortcut to the intended result, and less effort in getting there. And it ensures that clients get an optimum return on investment in their plant facilities.

These features make the software the right solution for small-scale supplier companies who only wish to program a single robot cell, but equally for large corporations that plan to map entire digital factories.

What’s more, FASTSUITE Edition 2 is now also available via a simple viewing license that can be used as a valuable sales tool. “The view license lets our clients leverage the 3D simulation model as a demonstrator for plant concepts. This really facilitates internal communication with the respective development divisions”, says Obmann.