Flexlink Collaborative Robot Systems The Cure for Curing Space

By

Jason Long, Optical Sales Engineer, FlexLink Systems

No matter the size of your optical lab, we at FlexLink know that your floor space is of premium value. The way your floor space is used will affect the overall success you will have in achieving your lab’s short- and long-term goals, while meeting your customers’ expectations. Carefully planning the layout of your equipment and your work flow is a very important process when starting up a new lab or expanding your current production line. Implementing or expanding your alloy curing system should not be overlooked during this planning.

FlexLink offers a Collaborative Curing System that uses cutting-edge technology and includes the safety features of a robot storage system, which can ensure accurate curing times for jobs while saving valuable manufacturing space. A single unit can accommodate approximately 300 jobs per hour and take up significantly less space than the required conveyor needed to accommodate the same throughput.

Optical trays are removed from the main conveyor in-feed line by the collaborative robot gripper specifically designed for handling optical trays. They are then systematically placed into the vertical racking unit for storage. When the required curing time is achieved, the robot removes the tray from the rack location and places it on the out-feed conveyor line that will transport the trays to the generators for processing. Upgrades include incorporating smart routing into the system that can communicate with your Lab Management Software (LMS) to locate and retrieve special jobs. Operators will have easy access to the trays from the backside of the racks should they need to locate a priority or cancelled job quickly.

Correct Curing Times

We all know there are many different ways optimal curing times can be achieved. In the past, optical labs would implement hundreds of feet of conveyor or try and manage curing times with optical tray stacker and de-stacker units. While these methods work, they limit a lab’s ability to easily manage and access trays. There are also a lot of additional hidden costs associated with these methods that are sometimes overlooked.

One benefit of implementing a collaborative robot system is the elimination of the safety guarding. This will free up floor space and lower the cost of implementing robotics. For example, older outdated tray-handling equipment and devices must be guarded to keep employees safely away from moving parts that can cause a work place injury. The guarding itself can be expensive, especially when doors, interlocks and special sensors are required. However, with a collaborative robot system, an employee can work alongside and even interact with the automation, accessing and managing optical trays in the system as needed.

Easy Install

Another benefit is the simplicity of the installation of the Collaborative Curing System. Historically, installation crews needed to be onsite for several days to install long lines of ceiling-supported conveyors that required structural engineering studies and inspections. And, if your lab is in an area that requires seismic testing, this would accrue additional costs for studies as well as special materials to meet the requirements for anchoring the conveyor properly.

However, the Collaborative Curing System can arrive at your lab prebuilt and preprogrammed minimizing the required installation time as well as the down time to your lab’s production. Smaller to mid-sized optical labs that are new to automation will appreciate the simple-to-program features and the ability to integrate the system with existing equipment with little to no alteration. Larger, more established labs that are more familiar with automation will benefit greatly by the additional savings they will see in floor space and eliminating unrequired guarding while maintaining or improving safety standards.

For more information, please contact Jason Long at Jason.Long@flexlink.com.

 


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Labtalk-November/December 2017