The Dutch manufacturer Thomas Regout has integrated robots in its production process to assist workers with carrying heavy parts, showing them assembly instructions through virtual reality, and collaborating in the workplace without replacing jobs carried out by humans.

Woman and robot working together in the factory

The Dutch manufacturer Thomas Regout produces telescopic slides for industrial applications. Because of small batches sizes and the high flexibility needed, operators had to change machines and tools very often, slowing down productivity and involving highly physical labour for workers.

Thanks to their involvement in the EU project HORSE, this company teamed up with the Competence Centre TNO and a Digital Innovation Hub in order to develop a solution based on the integration of robots in their production process.

Rather than replacing workers, the robots assist humans in the factory across three key tasks:

  • Robots place heavy parts on hooks, while humans continue to do this task but with other parts that involve less physical labour
  • An augmented reality projector displays instructions to the workers to make complex assembly of elements easier for them, even if they do not have experience or specialised knowledge.
  • A camera also tracks the process to warn if some step is missed and a robot arm brings bins an parts as needed to the worker.
  • Support in the monitoring and planning needed to enable flexible and effective production

Impact

  • Reduced change-overs
  • Efficient management of production
  • Reduced workload on humans
  • Potential application in other production lines, especially for SMEs that need small lot sizes and frequent changeovers

For more information on this success story, visit HORSE's website and check the following video.

 

Project
Smart integrated Robotics system for SMEs controlled by Internet of Things based on dynamic manufacturing processes
Project Acronym
HORSE