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Fomeco introduces LWR in pipe processing operations

Zwevegem-based pipe processor Fomeco is always looking for ways to optimise its production process. The company wanted to know whether certain – hitherto manual – steps could be automated. Sirris examined the flow and used a test rig to investigate whether a lightweight robot could take over marking operations.
  • Fomeco believes in robot technology as a means of organising its flow more efficiently
  • Sirris used a test rig to investigate the possibility of automated marking
  • LWR is able to apply red dots to pipes quickly and accurately
     

Fomeco specialises in pipe processing. The Zwevegem-based manufacturer has been a regular supplier to the automotive industry and machine manufacturers for years.

“The test rig showed that the lightweight robot was fast and accurate enough to take over pipe marking operations from the operator.” 

 

Error-prone process

Keen to continuously improve its production flow, Fomeco wanted to ascertain whether certain manual steps could potentially be automated. More specifically, the Zwevegem-based pipe processor wished to find out whether the application of reference points on pipes could be undertaken by a lightweight robot (LWR) positioned adjacent to the operator. Fomeco has a total of 150 products that need to be marked at least once during the production process. Inevitably, the operator occasionally forgets to add the dot. If this error is not picked up in the final check, it will not be noticed until the pipe is at the customer’s premises. Fomeco therefore wanted to see whether automation could enhance the reliability of the marking process. Sirris investigated the technical and economic feasibility of an LWR.

Test rig provides the answer

In an initial exploration, Sirris identified which manual pipe-processing steps could potentially be automated. One of these was the application of reference points known as ‘red dots’.


The experts set up a test rig involving a lightweight robot, for two high-volume products. During the observation phase they checked whether the LWR could keep up the required pace and whether it could perform the operations as accurately as the operator, including shaking the marker to prevent the ink from drying out.

LWR passes the test

The feasibility study with the test rig found that the LWR was fast and accurate enough to take over pipe marking from the operator. Fomeco has since purchased its first robot for this operation and integrated it into its production process. The pipe processing company believes strongly in robot technology as a way of optimising its production flow and is currently looking into automating other steps in the manufacturing process.