Robotic Success Stories

More than 70 cobots automate several tasks at Siemens’ factory

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As a pioneer in digitalization and automation, the Siemens Gerätewerk Erlangen (GWE) uses both its own products and the collaborative robots from Universal Robots (UR). Today, more than 70 cobots relieve employees from repetitive and tiring tasks. The starting point for each application is a digital twin. Through virtual commissioning, Siemens prevents planning errors and ensures high process and product quality

Like many other German production companies, the Siemens Gerätewerk Erlangen (GWE) has faced several challenges in recent years – from labor shortage to increasing cost pressure. In order not only to react but also to actively shape an increasingly digital future, the electronics plant relies on its own products – and on automation with the help of cobots. The company designs the processes itself. After all, Siemens stands for excellent technical know-how and innovative strength.

“When we first discussed the automation of the plant in 2016, we only knew about classic industrial robots. But we can’t profitably operate them in our small to medium volume production”, explains Maximilian Metzner, Global Lead Manufacturing Electronics at Siemens Gerätewerk Erlangen. They needed an alternative solution.

With the UR cobots the team at Siemens found a suitable solution. “The cobots from Universal Robots are extremely compact, versatile, and, above all, easy to operate,” says Maximilian Metzner. “And the biggest advantage is the flexibility we gain from the technology being intuitive to program and to handle.”

In 2017, the first cobot started operating at GWE – a UR10. Its task was to transfer cardboard boxes from a delivery stack to a pallet. It was the beginning of a success story. Today, more than 70 cobots automate tasks at GWE – and the trend is even rising. For smooth integration, the company relies on planning with digital twins. This means that Siemens plans every step of the value chain virtually in advance and simulates it in their VR lab.

To get employees on board with the introduction of the cobots, GWE initiated an information day. Employees were invited to test and play with the cobots to overcome any potential fears and reservations. A high level of acceptance is now also reflected in the fact that the individual production areas have given their cobots names. For example, «Schorsch» works with housings, while «Waltraud» and «Mariechen» pack devices.

At Siemens GWE, the automation of manufacturing processes has been a great success. Using cobots not only increases productivity and improves the company’s cost position but also increases the motivation of the entire workforce. “Thanks to the cobots from Universal Robots, we have managed to ensure that automation has arrived to take its place right next to all employees on the production floor,” says Harald Ell, Production Planner at Siemens Gerätewerk Erlangen.

“The key to success was that we realized the planning and implementation with our own specialists from technology, production, and maintenance. Today, the other Siemens sites are benefiting from our experience with the cobots” MICHAEL BRUCKSCH Head of Automation Implementation


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