Complex motion is exactly that. It's complicated, and its design can be very difficult to translate into physical motion that a machine or system builder knows will be safe, accurate and reliable before the machine or system actually is built and commissioned.
The stakes are high. Big manufacturing companies want to build mutually beneficial, long-lasting relationships with their key suppliers. Manufacturers also routinely expect better leadtimes, faster commissioning and higher performance from their machine system partners. They expect machine motion to be flawless from Day One. If they don't get what they expect, that business relationship will not last very long.
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AKE Robotics understands these facts well. The company is a subsidiary of the German enterprise AKE-Systemtechnik. The parent company designs and builds everything from transport systems to robotic manufacturing cells. AKE Robotics, located in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, configures and programs all types of industrial robots for applications in manufacturing, assembly and logistics. By incorporating the most current technology in industrial robotics, AKE Robotics meets the demands of a list of exacting customers that includes Audi, Mercedes, Seat, Volkswagen and Volvo Ghent.
Precision Absolutely Required
Supplying robots to the global market requires the highest quality standards. The configuration of crucial production environments has a decisive influence on the high level of responsibility for each realization. In many situations, AKE Robotics' work is constrained by time and space limitations, but the company still must deliver reliable, essentially flawless robot operations. Inaccurate installations result in costly production downtimes and require considerable expenditures to correct. Also, when there are errors, repair work must be done at the customer's site, which significantly reduces the profitability of that project.
Software Compatibility Is Key
To improve quality and minimize risks, AKE Robotics decided to implement a robot programming and simulation solution. One of the essential features the company searched for in this type of software was compatibility with leading computer-aided design (CAD) systems. In addition to making its own designers' work easier (if customers' CAD data could be imported), compatibility with other systems also would make it easier for the company to grow into new markets.
"We want to import almost all CAD data available on the market, including catpart, stl, nx and ugs," says Bartłomiej Siuda, managing director at AKE Robotics. "Most linebuilders and automakers use Catia for 3D prototyping, and these models and elements are most helpful to have."
Siuda says that before AKE made its software change, there was only online programming and on-site finishing. "There was no possibility to test if everything was OK, until it was made in metal and mounted," Siuda explains. "The engineer could not test if, for example, all spots or robot positions are allowed and possible to reach."
The openness and strong industry reputation of Robcad software, part of the Tecnomatix software portfolio from Siemens PLM Software, made it the right choice for AKE Robotics, according to Siuda. "The main reasons we went with Robcad were because it offered us the possibility of working with prestigious automakers and because it is compatible with our parent company, which uses Robcad as well," he says. "It also lets us take on smaller projects, which were previously unprofitable for us."