German medical technology expert Senova cooperated with Omron and Kraus Maschinenbau GmbH to pioneer the factory of the future.
The coronavirus crisis has caused untold damage to the personal health and finances of people throughout the world, as well as damaging national economies. However, industry has been able to play a key role in developing solutions that can mitigate the crisis.
For instance, the retail, manufacturing and public sectors are increasingly turning to innovative robotics, sensors and AI (artificial intelligence) technologies to ease the pressure on employees, accelerate processes and improve compliance with hygiene requirements. The Technical University of Darmstadt reports that the acceptance of robots has increased significantly in recent months.
Companies wanting to benefit from this trend need to act quickly and to form partnerships with organizations that have expertise in these areas. The power of such co-operation has been illustrated recently by the work carried out by German medical technology company, Senova, in conjunction with robotics experts from O and mechanical engineering specialists from Kraus Maschinenbau GmbH. Senova is a leading developer and manufacturer of rapid test systems for marking biomarkers, viruses and microorganisms.
Working closely together over the past six months, the three companies have developed and built production machines that include smart robotics. These have automated, accelerated and improved the very time-consuming manual production of coronavirus antibody rapid tests. This met a vital need, as the increased testing of more and more people for the virus meant that the production of kits had to be hugely ramped up. At the same time, there needed to be more interlinked production and packaging.
“The fast and uncomplicated implementation of this challenging project was only possible thanks to the perfect interaction and good chemistry between the customer, machine builder and system and control supplier.“ Joachim Kraus | Managing Director Kraus Maschinenbau GmbH
Omron robots provide precise material handling
The tests (which look similar to a pregnancy test) are produced using machines from Kraus, along with Omron eCobra600 robots, Quattro 650 H four-axis parallel robots, Omron TM5-700 cobots, PLC controls, drives and sensors. Due to the increased production volume, Omron has already delivered additional eCobra600 Pros and integrated them into the production line. These robots are particularly reliable, flexible and powerful.
The SCARA robots are ideal for the precise processing, assembly and material handling used in medical technology. The four-axis robot has a range of up to 800mm and can be easily adapted for different applications, such as test production. The eCobra technology also offers high repeatability and a payload of up to 5.5kg. The amplifiers and controllers built into the robot reduce the number of cables needed. The overhead mounting configuration enables the efficient use of space, even in clean rooms, which are so essential in the medical technology environment.
The control and drive of the cutting and packaging machines also comes from Omron, and is built into the production lines of Kraus Maschinenbau. Further components of the flexible COVID-19 test kit production include the Quattro 650 H four axis parallel robots. These can be controlled by Ethernet, using the familiar programming language (IEC 61131-3) of the NX / NJ machine controllers. The four-axis arm distributes the load evenly to the robot, which supports fast and high-precision transport and assembly. The Quattro robots are designed for high payloads and multi-hand applications: several parts can be picked up at the same time. This also accelerates the production of the coronavirus test.