Fast Robotic Handling of Metal Tubes with KUKA Robot

Fast Robotic Handling of Metal Tubes with KUKA Robot


Tube Supply is a distributor of mechanical
tubes and bars and Triple-S Steel is about a 60-year-old distributor of structural steel
products. Between us, we’ve got about a hundred years
of experience in steel. It used to be if you took an order and you
delivered it the next week, that was fine. Now, tomorrow is almost not fine. We have to deliver very fast. Those are the needs for our customers. At Tube Supply, we want to provide excellent
service to our customers and in a timely manner. What can do that more than a robot? Automation is really the future, and if you’re
not pushing the envelope, you’ll be left behind. It’s about meeting our customers’ expectations,
and how we can do that in the most predictable, most reliable fashion, and a robot does that
for us. We had looked at some out-of-town robot integrators,
and Cameron and I were talking, and we came to the conclusion that Houston’s the fourth
biggest city in the United States. There’s bound to be an integrator here. We did a little googling, we found ARC, and
then found out that ARC’s a customer of Triple-S, which moved them to the top of the list immediately. And then we found out they’re one mile from
here. It was destiny that we found each other. ARC Specialties is headquartered in Houston,
Texas. We are an equipment provider as well as a
robotic system integrator. We serve the oil and gas industries, the aerospace
industry, construction and defense. And we found that the knowledge and experience
that we have in automating welding systems will translate very well into material handling
or into polishing or into other types of robotic applications. We developed all of the design, mechanical
and electrical in our facility. We have teams of mechanical and electrical
engineers that work on this concept, and create it to completion. ARC has helped integrate the system from beginning
to end, from our idea on paper to the full-on production of the robot. Before this, my only experience with automation
was my washing machine, basically and ARC has been very quick to respond and find solutions
to problems we didn’t even know we had. The major concern when I talk to people about
automating their facilities is the unknown. They don’t have the resources and the people
available to program these robots when a change is needed. So the way that we approach our customers
that have never had a robotic installation in their facility is to try to make the system
as user-friendly as possible. We chose KUKA because of availability. The robot was stocked for us, basically. It’s a very high-capacity, high-payload type
of robot that we were looking for, and the availability of this robot was there. Other reasons that we select KUKA is because
of the service. The local application engineer is very knowledgeable
about the products and does help us out within a moment’s notice. One of the key benefits of this system is
efficiency, so we designed this system to be able to pretty much run unassisted. So once they load the raw material into the
saw, basically the robot will measure the size of the parts that are being cut and pretty
much stack then and index the pallets without any assistance. We can deliver 1500 parts in a day, which
used to take a week. The first robot that I saw was in a cartoon
called The Jetsons. The housekeeper, her name was Rosie. So our robot has the name of Rosie. Until you see Rosie running, I had no idea
of the service that we really, ultimately would end up being able to deliver to our
customers. Yesterday, we had pieces being cut that weighed
176 pounds. And she didn’t care if it’s 3 pounds or 176
pounds. She’s taking that part from the saw, stacking
it on the pallet, just repeatedly. And that order got out, I would say in half
the time that it would before. If we get a call for 2000 cuts in a couple
days as long as we have the material we’ll be able to service our customers. We keep about a hundred million pounds of
inventory in this plant every day. The large inventory helps keep stock for our
customers’ demands. If you call and want this, we’ll put it on
a pallet for you. Our safety pink robot eliminates a very keen
opportunity for repetitive motion injuries. What she is doing is picking up heavy parts
and putting them in the same place time after time after time. I wouldn’t want my child doing that job. With a robot doing the palletizing, there’s
no intervention with an operator, and that cuts out all of the opportunities for a person
to get injured. With the installation of the robot, no employee
was laid off, and now the jobs may have changed, but they are physically less demanding, which
will lead to less injury. The robot’s great. It’s going to be great for safety, and it’s
helping. But really it’s just cool, and we like cool. And we wanted to be the first, and we are
the first.

11 Replies to “Fast Robotic Handling of Metal Tubes with KUKA Robot”

  1. I would love to get into the drop pile (recycle stuff) from Tube Industries. Steel is only a few cents a pound right now and probably they would rather a nut case like me to get some use out of it. Doooool.

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  3. KUKA
    You guys are doing a great work
    Inovating and helping small to medium bussines
    Awesome job , love your product !!!

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