COMPANY NEWS: KUKA

Robot in washing cell in the automotive industry

| Editor: Franziska Breunig

Flexibility is the trump card: a KUKA washing robot in an automated production system.
Flexibility is the trump card: a KUKA washing robot in an automated production system. (Bild: KUKA)

A KUKA robot of type KR 120 R2100 nano F exclusive has been deployed at the BMW Group’s Dingolfing plant. The robot from the KR QUANTEC nano family guides components to cleaning nozzle holders. During this process, the robot is exposed to chemical additives, high temperatures and high levels of cleaning pressure.

The robustness and flexibility of the KR QUANTEC nano F exclusive allowed it to be integrated into an existing automated process chain. The robot guides components with varying geometries to the nozzle holders where they are cleaned to remove forming agents and any dirt that may be present as a result of the production process. The companies Schnupp GmbH & Co. Hydraulik KG and WK Systemtechnik GmbH & Co. KG were entrusted with implementation of this solution.

A KUKA robot for high payloads cleans a component in five steps

In the first step of the process, the KR QUANTEC nano F exclusive uses a special multiple gripper to pick up the component from the infeed unit. In the second step, the hollow cavity of the component is cleaned. For this, the robot feeds the component to the internal cleaning operation with millimeter precision. Exterior cleaning is the third work step. This is followed by neutralization of the interior of the component by rinsing with deionized water. In the final step of the process, the robot places the component on the output conveyor unit. There, before being removed from the washing cell, it is also rinsed on the outside.

Robot withstands large volumes of water and high temperatures

The working environment of the KR 120 R2100 nano F exclusive is not usually suitable for industrial robots. The reason: the robot is exposed to a large volume of water with a 3% admixture of alkaline cleaning agents. Furthermore, temperatures in the washing cell can exceed 60° Celsius, resulting in considerable water vapor.

Robot protected by special measures

Special protective measures have been taken to ensure that the KUKA robot is not damaged by these external influences: it features complete encapsulation of the mechanical system and pressurization of the robot interior. The cable set is routed internally throughout the robot. Moreover, the protective surface is resistant to alkalis, acids, heat and corrosion. Thanks to these measures, it meets the requirements of protection rating IP69.

The flexibility of the KUKA washing robot is highly advantageous

Another benefit that the KUKA robot provides is its high flexibility and short cycle times. The entire washing operation can be performed in 45 seconds and components of different sizes can be processed. Achieving the required cycle times and handling components with different geometries is only possible with this special robot variant. Since commissioning in the summer of 2015, the system has proved its worth. In the meantime, follow-up inquiries have been received for the automation of further cleaning processes with a robotic cleaning system.

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