fast, precise, and on the money

State-of-the-art companies can no longer afford to make compromises in terms of speed and quality. Automation of complex or even individual processes is a key to success in this area. For strenuous tasks, a robot is the perfect colleague, providing ready assistance to employees. At the company Fastlog AG in the Gwatt (Thun) plant, both Fanuc robots of the type „M-10iA“ and „M-20iA10L“ lend a helping hand towards extending the service life of electronic devices, even basic units such as modems, and afterwards the robots package them perfectly on pallets for customer shipping.

Fastlog AG is a company that was re-established in 2009 with over 100 years of tradition from the former PTT Group and currently employing 140 people in service and logistics of spare parts for its business customers. In this niche business, the objective is to increase the lifecycle even of basic used electronic devices such as modems or set-top boxes from the IT/telecommunications sector and to make them available to the market again, fully inspected and tested.

In fact, each device in the „Fastchecker“ is tested and inspected in detail, polished, cleaned and newly packaged again. This „refurbishing“ saves the manufacturers lots of money and ultimately reduces the burden on the environment. „Fastchecker“ is a clear solution for the rapidly-growing demand in the Swiss market, and Fastlog revolutionizes the after-sales business for electronic components and systems with this Fanuc M-20iA10L palletising robot, given the nickname „PALETTI“ by its co-workers.

By: Marcus Frutig (Editor technica), Fanuc Europe Corporation, Luxembourg

 

1.1     REFURBISHING IS A STRENUOUS, MANUAL PROCESS

As all devices at Fastlog are completely inspected at modern measurement workstations and receive the latest software updates, the finishing touch in the sequence is the refurbishing of the covers, whereby the cover has to be gently and carefully finished and polished, as modern plastic covers do not forgive any minor flaws. Repairing each device manually or removing old adhesive labels: These are physically demanding and monotonous tasks. Marcel Hadorn, Operations Manager/Head of Services at Fastlog explains further: „That is why we decided to deploy a robot from Fanuc for these tasks, on the one hand, to take a load off of employees and on the other hand, to meet the efficiency requirements.“

How did the collaboration come about? The polishing was one task, and the palletizing of the completely refurbished devices was another. Hadorn explains: „We discovered the company Derap AG, which has its headquarters nearby, and we had them prepare sketches of initial routines and requirements. We were quickly convinced that we wanted to use a robot for palletizing. Then the company Fanuc was suggested to us. What convinced us about Fanuc was seeing the direct applications of its plant in the nearby location of Biel/Bienne.“

1.2     REQUIREMENTS SPECIFICATION FOR CHOOSING THE RIGHT ROBOT

Together with the integrator Derap AG from the nearby town of Heimberg (BE), a detailed requirements specification was prepared. The initial focus was on the palletising robot „M-20iA10L“, the application of which is standard today in many companies and which very quickly achieved the desired result for Hadorn and his team. A key parameter in the requirements specification was the cycle of 12 devices per minute, which was also successfully achieved. Thus, Marcel Hadorn and the consultant team led by Peter Keller, CEO of Derap AG, was on the right track: „We were very quickly convinced by the precision of the robot applications, although for the palletizing process, you don’t need tolerances of tenths or hundredths of a millimetre“, confirms Hadorn with satisfaction. „Although there were certain challenges during commissioning, we were able to quickly correct them by coordinating the stacking of the boxes. The system, including the sensors, works perfectly“, he adds.

Peter Keller, CEO of the engineering firm Derap AG, explains from his perspective why robots from Fanuc were the right choice: „We received the cycle times and the different desired palletising patterns with tight tolerances as a specification from Fastlog. Thus we looked for the appropriate robots that were able to fulfil these tight specifications. This already narrowed the search considerably.“ The crux of the matter was optimally placing many of the different shrink-wrapped and thus not always perfectly geometrically-shaped device packages on the pallet with eccentric suction devices to ensure that there will be no production interruption, and that the load won’t shift during road transport. The „iRVision“ system in the unit delivered by Fanuc is „also very well matched as a component, which was an additional decisive criterion for choosing Fanuc robots.”

Figure 5.18: The „PALETTI“ packaging robot of the type M-20iA10L in constant operation. Peter Keller, CEO of Derap AG, emphasises: „We received the cycle times and the different desired palletising patterns with tight tolerances as a specification. The vision of the unit is also very well matched, which was an additional decisive criterion for choosing Fanuc robots.“ (Photos: Fanuc/Sabino Parente)

 

Figure 5.19: Detail on the robot arm of the type „M-20iA10L“: The integrated air grippers must be dimensioned for various packaging geometries of the sensitive packaging material.

 

 

Close cooperation for quick solutions. Thus, the palletizing was somewhat more difficult to master, given more sophisticated processes. But we saw that the originally planned polishing system was somewhat easier to implement by comparison. The development of the polishing system went relatively quickly. Hadorn added: „With the polishing system, we were able to reach our goals within the deadline we set for ourselves. Here even more personnel savings can be achieved than on the palletizing system.“ An important point for him was also „the fact that the Derap company provided us with superb assistance in deciding on the robot models „M-10iA“ and „M-20iA10L“ from Fanuc. We defined the requirements in terms of weight, speed, and workspace conditions on the systems, then based on a recommendation by Pierre Rottet from Fanuc, and in cooperation with the people at Derap, we opted for these specialized devices.“ Bürki Electric AG from Steffisburg was responsible for the networking, installation and programming of the PLC controller and the vision components of both systems. Short distances and local companies working hand-in-hand combined to lead this close project collaboration to rapid solutions.

1.3     FORCE MOMENTUM SENSOR FOR CONSISTENTLY HIGH QUALITY

On the „M-10i“ palletising robot – today named „PALETTI“ by the employees – different design approaches were originally discussed. It quickly became clear that a continuous application of force would be necessary for the difficult polishing process in order to guarantee consistent quality. This was achieved with the force momentum sensor by the company Fanuc, „which runs very homogeneously and smoothly. We are satisfied how the whole project was organised“, confirms Hadorn.

Figure 5.20: The „Politti“ polishing robot of the type „M-10iA“ in tireless operation polishing modems in 70-second cycles with the grinding machines from Suhner AG. Marcel Hadorn, Plant Manager Fastlog AG is very satisfied: „Our polishing robot ‚Politti‘ can polish up to 700 housings per day.“

 

Also for Pierre Rottet, sales manager for robots at Fanuc, this „M-10iA“ robot in combination with force momentum sensor is quite unique: „This sensor communicates directly with the robot controller, thus we are able to guarantee that the contact force exerted when polishing the housing will always be the same. This offers the advantage that you can achieve consistent quality in this polishing process. On the other hand, there are significant time savings during programming, i.e. when teaching the movements. The force momentum sensor thus always carries out the programmed movement with the same contact force.“ This polishing process is in fact something special in the application. Pierre Rottet is certain: „It can also be used to demonstrate to other customers that Fanuc robots and the force momentum sensor enable the implementation of machining solutions like these, involving process engineering. The unique features with Fanuc are the options for integrated solutions: Peripheral devices such as image processing or force momentum sensors etc. are proprietary Fanuc products and can be integrated into the robot controls very easily in a ‘Plug and Play’ concept. I believe that technologically this is really something that can be used in the future, also for other industrial applications.“

Figure 5.21: The continuous force application required for the difficult polishing process of the sensitive plastic housings is precisely detected by the force momentum sensor from Fanuc for consistent quality. For the development of new programs on this robots, the internal Fastlog engineering team received training at Derap.

1.4     INTERNAL KNOW-HOW FOR EXTERNAL FUTURE VISIONS AND GROWTH

The entire polishing process of plastic housings containing sensitive electronics is generally a very delicate process, as is the rapid packaging of completed package onto the pallets. „Our employees are grateful that these tasks can be taken over by robots today“, Marcel Hadorn is certain. After all, automation and robots, subjectively speaking, are also subject to criticism: „We initially had concerns about deploying these robots in our production, because after all, they ultimately eliminate jobs. But remarkably, this was well received by the employees and the mood is surprisingly positive. The palletising was a very strenuous task, especially in the summertime.

Also well received from our staff was the polishing robot, as there were frequent healthrelated downtimes on this system. This was a sign for us to take the load off the employees. There have not been any complaints from the employees that they no longer have to do this strenuous task“, says Hadorn. This means automation with robots dovetails with a more environmentally-friendly and resource-conserving (working) world of tomorrow, which, all in all, requires new solutions, especially due to the high-wage price pressure for Swiss companies, particularly given the heightening competitive situation with Europe and the Far East.

Fanuc Switzerland also considers this forward-driven project highly successful: „With this project, we have gained not only the company Derap as a system partner but also the company Fastlog as a new end customer, who is now using robots in production for the first time. This certainly will not be the last project. That is why for Fanuc Switzerland, it is naturally a very important and also a successful project“, summed up Pierre Rottet and Claudia Scheidegger, Marketing Fanuc Switzerland, standing at the polishing cell, where their „M-10iA“ is whirring continuously and rapidly from modem to modem.

Werner Steiner, CEO and DVR of Fastlog, summarises: „We were very pleased to see how so much expertise could be built up in such a short time, and we are now capable of programming the new palletising system ourselves. It is important for us to have inhouse expertise for the program adaptation. There are already new ideas, and we are looking forward to additional cooperation with the companies Derap and Fanuc.“

 

Author: Markus Frutig, Editor technica-online.ch
Preliminary impression in the scientific journal „technica” (www.technica-online.ch)

Ines Furler übernimmt das Ruder bei der Fastlog AG

Per 01.01.2018 übernahm Ines Furler die Leitung des Logistik- und Serviceunternehmens Fastlog AG in Gwatt bei Thun.
Bisher war Sie als Managing Director für die Schweiz und Österreich bei der DHL Logistics Schweiz AG tätig.
Sie ersetzt Werner Steiner, welcher sich als Verwaltungsratspräsident in die strategische Geschäftsführung zurückziehen wird.

Neuer Fastlog Service für Geschäftskunden

Fastlog bietet einen neuen ökologischen und ökonomischen Service im Logistikbereich an. Die Kunden können täglich mehrmals bestellen und erhalten am nächsten Tag nur eine Lieferung. Dies geschieht ressourcenschonend in Mehrwegboxen. Damit können wir neue Kundenbedürfnisse abdecken.

Neue Führung für Fastlog AG

Seit 2009 stand Werner Steiner an der Spitze des Logistik- und Serviceunternehmens Fastlog AG im Gwatt. Nun gibt er, 61-jährig, die operative Führung ab.

Fastlog schafft 18 neue Stellen in der Region Thun

Das Logistikunternehmen Fastlog AG wächst. Es übernimmt neue Logistik- und Serviceleistungen für die Swisscom und weitere Kunden. Für die Region Thun entstehen somit 18 neue Arbeitsplätze.

Fastlog erweitert die Logistik- und Servicedienstleistungen für Swisscom

Swisscom hat im Rahmen der Ausschreibung „Future Logistics“ für den Massenmarkt die Service- und Logistikleistungen neu ausgeschrieben.
Bestandteil der Ausschreibung war unter anderem die Vorwärts- und Rückwärtslogistik der Residential Servicetechniker (Fislog).

Im Mai wurde nun der Vertrag für die Vergabe an Fastlog von beiden Parteien unterzeichnet.

Chinesische Delegation besucht Fastlog AG

Organisiert durch die in China bekannte Bosum Association besuchte letzten Mittwoch eine chinesische Delegation von Wirtschaftspersönlichkeiten die Schweiz.
In einem straffen Programm besuchte die 21-köpfige Delegation diverse Firmen im ganzen Land, auch die Fastlog AG war einer der Zwischenhalte.

Fastlog an der Fachmesse Logistics & Distribution

Fastlog wird dieses Jahr vom 26. bis 27. April erneut an der Logistics & Distribution Messe in Zürich anzutreffen sein.

So geht Logistik 4.1

Am 25. August 2016 haben wir unser neues Logistikcenter an der Eisenbahnstrasse 71 in Gwatt eingeweiht.

Impressionen aus dem Lagerumzug

Tausende Artikel wurden bei Fastlog  in das neue Logistikcenter gezügelt.

Fastlink an der SOM (Swiss Online Marketing Messe)

Nachdem Fastlog vom 06. – 07.04. bereits an der Logistics & Distribution Messe mit dem modularen Dienstleistungskonzept Fastlink vertreten war, waren wir vom 13. – 14.04. an der Swiss Online Marketing Messe (SOM).

Logistics & Distribution Messe in Zürich

Fastlog war diese Woche an der Logistics & Distribution Messe in Zürich anzutreffen.

Zeitungsbericht Crossblades

Die Crossblades, welche bei uns seit September endgefertigt werden, wurden durch einen Journalisten der BZ Thuner Tagblatt getestet und es ist ein entsprechender Artikel erschienen.

Crossblades Schneeschuhsystem

Die Fastlog AG setzt ihre modularen Fastlink Services neu in einem bisher untätigen Geschäftsfeld ein
Die Endmontage des Crossblades Schneeschuhsystems der in Steffisburg ansässigen Inventra AG wird durch die Fastlog AG in Gwatt bei Thun ausgeführt.

Logistikprozesse werden schrittweise reorganisiert

Der Fachartikel zeigt wie wir immer wieder unsere Prozesse optimieren und uns stetig weiterentwickeln.

Schnell, exakt, alles «PALETTI»

Moderne Unternehmen können bei Geschwindigkeit und Qualität keine Kompromisse mehr eingehen. Die Automation von komplexen oder auch individuellen Prozessen ist dazu ein Schlüssel zum Erfolg.

Neues Schieberegal als erster Schritt zum neuen Logistikkonzept

Die Logistik in unserem Hauptgebäude in Gwatt/Thun platzt aus allen Nähten deshalb haben wir vor einiger Zeit eine neue Logistikhalle extern angemietet.

Fastlink an der Cebit 2015

Die CeBit in Hannover ist die weltweit grösste IT-Messe und findet seit 1986 jährlich in Hannover statt. Über 200‘000 Besucher liessen sich während fünf Tagen von dem Neuesten aus der IT-Branche faszinieren.

Swisscom annotiert Fastlog AG Bestnoten für das Jahr 2014!

Swisscom bewertet jährlich ca. 60 strategische Lieferanten.

Fastlog nimmt den Fastchecker in Betrieb

Es geht darum, die Lebensdauer auch von einfachen elektronischen Geräten zu verlängern.