Job retention Switzerland: Accurate solution

Editor: Susanne Hertenberger

10000 pétanque balls are manufactured every day by the market leader, La Boule Obut. One part of the production line with Stäubli robots had to be modernised in order to maintain the competitive edge.

Romain Souvignet, General Manager at Obut, in front of a Stäubli robot.
Romain Souvignet, General Manager at Obut, in front of a Stäubli robot.
(Bild: Christian Pfammatter / Stäubli)

Since 1955, La Boule Obut has been the leader in designing, developing and manufacturing steel pétanque balls. 10.000 pieces of this sport equipment are manufactured in the plant in Saint-Bonnet-le-Château – equally for professional and recreational sportsmen. In view of the saturated French markets (90% of the sales volume) and the competition from discounters, the typical small and medium enterprises relied on innovation in the 1990s for product development as well as manufacturing processes. One part of the production line had to be modernised, in order to maintain the competitive edge and to avoid maintenance costs, however, without doing away with the traditional character and know-how of the employees of La Boule Obut. Stäubli Robotics was approached in search of solutions for automation and quality control checks in accordance with quality and precision standards, which always represent the organisation’s key to success.


Production line with a high-performance robot

After redesigning and modernisation of the production hall keeping in mind the key role of the workforce, in 2012, Stäubli installed the first TX90 robot for the leisure range by Obut; this was followed by a second robot for the professional product line in 2014. These Pick & Place robots with sensors for quality control were placed directly behind the welding stations and instantly caused a drop in the lead time as well as an improvement in the quality of the pétanque balls. “The welding seams and the geometry of the balls are monitored in the production cycle right from the start”, explains the production manager, Pascal Ferragne. “The operating personnel must not spend a long time for this process. The employees can therefore concentrate on other interesting activities, for example, programming the robots”.

Increased productivity and safe workplaces

Even the working conditions for the workforce has improved with the modernisation of the assembly line: the robots take over lifting of heavy loads and offer more flexibility in peak times. Thanks to the robots, the company could sustain its workshop in Saint-Bonnet-le-Château and thereby create local jobs. “Stäubli robots have provided new impulses to the company and even influenced our company philosophy”, says Pierre Souvignet, CEO of La Boule Obut. “Thanks to them we could strengthen our strategic positioning with respect to our clients and develop an image that is based on modern technology”.


Pétanque is a boule-game related precision sport. Here, two teams try to throw a specified number of balls as close as possible to a previously cast jack. In the competition, 3 players (triplet), 2 players (doublette) or 1 player (tête-à-tête) face each other respectively. Pétanque was invented at the beginning of the 20th century in Southern France. The first world championship was held in 1959 in Belgium.

More information: Stäubli AG, CH-8810 Horgen,,