Customer, Challenge & Risks
Pioneer Industrial Systems was approached by a service oriented and solution provider for the oil and gas industry in Texas. We were contacted by their general manager. The primary purpose of their product is to preserve the environment by reducing the risk of soil contamination in the event of a spill or accident. They approached Pioneer Industrial Systems after researching automation and robotic companies that specialize in spraying various materials. Their request was to spray a polyurea material onto a moving backer material.
The customer needed to produce a large amount of polyurea matt on an automated production line. Pioneer was tasked with applying the polyurea material on a moving matt line while maintaining a required thickness and coverage. They needed to guarantee full coverage with no pinholes for liquids to penetrate the liner. The material then needed to be heated through a drying oven to help accelerate the curing process before it could be wound up into a finished roll. Currently they were doing this by hand. Quality and the volume of material required were quickly becoming an issue. Finding reliable labor to work in a manual spray booth in the Texas heat was also a major challenge.
The customer would be faced with losing orders if they could not automate this process in the upcoming months.
The customer found Pioneer Industrial Systems through Fanuc Robotics Integrator website. Pioneer fit their need for an automation provider specializing in various spray materials using robotics. The reached out to our sales staff via our website. Our sales team went to work uncovering their needs and working together on the required specifications. A visit to their production facility helped to understand the current method of hand spraying and the challenges that lie ahead
Using RoboGuide, Fanuc’s 3D simulation software, Pioneer was able to identify a Fanuc robot that would meet the payload and reach requirements for this system. Simulations in .AVI format were provided to the customer for review. A proposal was submitted, and the customer submitted their Capital Project Approval Request to their corporate management and a purchase order was issued to Pioneer.
A Fanuc M710iC robot was selected for this process based on payload calculations and reach studies. A tubular steel, gantry style frame with a 7th axis was designed to invert mount the robot directly over the moving matt line. A PE stamp was acquired for the structural analysis of the gantry frame. The system was then implemented into a spray booth and filtration system to contain any overspray. The equipment had to be fast, accurate, and reliable to guarantee 100% material coverage at the thickness required. Pioneer proposed using line tracking to adjust speed of the robot and the material output based on the matt line speed. Fanuc’s Dual Check Safety (DCS) package was installed in the robot to reduce the safety distance requirements around the robot cell by defining protective DCS zones around the working robot envelope. Robot travel outside these safety zones creates an immediate stop.
Pioneer worked with partner integrators to design and build the payoff and windup equipment and integrate the customer’s existing spray equipment. We worked with these outside suppliers to make sure the customer received a turnkey working system. Pioneer then designed and built an 80ft infrared drying oven and conveyor after the spray booth to meet their drying requirements.
Upon customer approval of all project mechanical and electrical design drawings, material was ordered, and the build began on Pioneer’s shop floor. Once the cell assembly was completed, the customer came to Pioneer for an onsite one-day runoff. After customer approval on the runoff, the machine was disassembled, shipped, and Pioneer’s assembly crew went on-site to install the equipment. The installation took place during a production shutdown period over the July 4th holiday. A week later, working with our customer’s schedule, the programming engineer arrived on site for start-up, programming, commissioning and training.
The customer was provided support documents including machine drawings, a detailed machine manual, the latest copies of the robot programs, and a spare parts list.
Outcomes of Success
The customer replaced a manual spray operation with repetitive motions and strenuous working conditions with a fully automated spray and drying system, where the operator became more of a machine tender than the one performing the manual labor. The safety was drastically improved by removing the operator from a spray-born, dirty environment. Efficiency, output, and quality also was greatly improved.
Pioneer was later asked back to incorporate a sand broadcasting system onto the existing traversing robot to provide for a textured material.
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