Robots are four times faster at polishing

Following the successful installation of Motoman systems for robotic arc welding and more recently plasma welding and cutting, one of Europe’s leading stainless steel catering and sanitary ware equipment manufacturers, W&G Sissons, has embarked on a far-reaching programme to automate polishing at its Sheepbridge, Chesterfield, factory. The first cell, based on two Motoman 6-axis articulated-arm robots, entered service in January 2001. Patrick Mason, production engineer in charge of the project, is planning to ensure that the polishing of all bowls, WCs and other products manufactured in batches over 20-off will be automated within the next two years. Speed is perhaps the main benefit of robots over hand polishing. A WC which used to take 70 minutes to polish to a grained finish by hand now takes 18 minutes including six automatic tool changes. If a mirror polish is required, the saving is even greater – 30 minutes by robot compared with three hours manually. A further comparison was cited, whereby a 500 mm x 400 mm stainless steel bowl which used to take 24 minutes to polish is now completed in six. The success in polishing this and other similar bowls has allowed a reduction in the work previously subcontracted.

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