Manual Work Meets Modern Automation to Empower Workers With Handicaps

September 23, 2020

In spite of advancing digitalization, the following still applies: Manual workstations are indispensable, because automation is not always profitable with small batch quantities or complex processes. Such workstations are preferred at the Martinshof Werkstatt Bremen, a sheltered workshop for a mixed workforce including people with handicaps, as they are ideally suited for integrating persons with physical or cognitive handicaps into working life.

Martinshof Chief.jpg_ico400.jpg

“Poka Yoke has empowered our workers,” said Miriam Berger, in charge of Production Planning, Martinshof Werkstatt Bremen. “We use automation to avoid mistakes that previously occurred in the production process. Everyone must be able to work smoothly together.” 

The Japanese Poka Yoke principle, which aims at the systematic elimination of human errors, coupled with Mitsubishi Electric’s “Guided Operator Solutions,” ensures high quality for Martinshof’s customers, which include well-known automakers in the region.

With some 2200 employees, Werkstatt Bremen is one of city’s largest employers as well as Germany’s oldest and largest workshops for people with and without handicaps. Apart from job order and contract production in the fields of metal and woodworking, electrical assembly, filling, and packaging, Werkstatt Bremen employs 500 workers alone in the automotive business sector, and has been supplying local automakers for more than 30 years.

Handke Industrie-Technik, a long-standing supplier to Werkstatt Bremen of manual workstations, and a premium solution partner of Mitsubishi Electric, recognised the unique opportunity. Together with Mitsubishi Electric, Handke developed a Poka Yoke solution for adapted working. The prototype of the error-free workstation convinced the customer, and was installed in the production line. Since May of 2018, a total of four identical zero-error workstations are in use for automotive parts production.

MitsCE001_GOS_Martinshof_Pic3.jpg_ico400.jpg

Integrating on-site technology and visualization

“The main challenge of this project involved the integration of existing technology into the new error-free workstations,” said Nils Knepper, Senior Product Manager Modular PLC/Software at Mitsubishi Electric Germany. “However, thanks to the interfacing features of our Poka Yoke controller, this was not a problem.”

The MELSEC iQ-F series PLC, installed on-site in a small control cabinet, is the intelligent, individually configurable and expandable heart of the solution that controls the picking and assembly sequences. Apart from Mitsubishi Electric’s own components, the system can also handle third-party sensors and actuators. In this case this included the digital torque wrench and a system for industrial image processing. The connection of a barcode printer is being implemented, and thanks to existing conventional interfaces, this can be done easily by the PLC.

“During the design of the user interface, Mitsubishi Electric was highly flexible, and took all our requirements into account. Because many of our employees cannot read very well, we make use of smileys and other symbols,” explains Miriam Berger. “In addition to process reliability, the Poka Yoke workstations have the great advantage for us, unlike the past situation, as practically any employee can now do the job.” The supporting visualization mentioned uses a 10-inch touchscreen terminal connected in the background to the Poka Yoke controller.

MitsCE001_GOS_Martinshof_Pic2.jpg_ico400.jpg

The hardware and software solution from Handke and Mitsubishi Electric deliver simple scalability, convenient configuration, programming and commissioning as well as comprehensive connection possibilities (including MES and ERP). And as soon as freedom from errors is achieved, and the technical potential is available, Werkstatt Bremen will investigate whether the buffer store can be dispensed with in the future, so that after assembly is completed the parts can be directly shipped “in time” to the automaker.

MitsCE001_GOS_Martinshof_Pic4.jpg_ico400.jpg

Wide range of components for individualization

“The need to prevent errors exists everywhere during production and assembly,” remarks Andreas Kebbel, Managing Director of Handke Industrie-Technik. “What is most important is the quick and flexible adaptation to the needs of the persons working there, and to the requirements of the process.”

That is why Mitsubishi Electric and Handke offer their solution in the form of a modular system with a wide range of components and interfaces for operator guidance. Amongst others, these include mechanisms to ensure the correct picking of parts, e.g. light barriers, pick-to-light push buttons (alternatively: pick-to-voice), barcode scanners, and proprietary pick-to-door devices with stroke switches. Moreover, there are monitoring devices such as electric screwdrivers with torque & angle detection, plus vision systems as well as opportunities for robot integration. HMIs (Human Machine Interfaces) from Mitsubishi Electric’s GOT2000 series are used for displaying the individual process steps, offering direct connectivity to the Poka Yoke controller, and meeting every display requirement from text through graphical symbols up to animations and augmented reality. Depending on requirements, the latest generation iQ-R or iQ-F PLCs can be used as controllers for the guided manufacturing solutions. Mitsubishi Electric’s Guided Operator Solutions can be integrated in to production systems, so that workstations can be networked and resources controlled and monitored in realtime.

Important Links Bar.jpg

https://www.werkstatt-bremen.de/

https://us.mitsubishielectric.com/en/

 

Related Articles

Network Infrastructure Featured Product Spotlight

PBUS 14 Panduit logo 400

This webinar presented by Beth Lessard and Keith Cordero will be highlighting three Panduit solutions that will optimize network equipment and cabling to ensure that your spaces are efficiently and properly managed to support ever-evolving business needs of today and beyond. Products that will be featured include PanZone TrueEdge Wall Mount Enclsoure, Cable Managers, and Adjustable Depth 4-Post Rack.

REGISTER HERE


Editor’s Pick: Featured Product News

Siemens: SIMOVAC Non-Arc-Resistant and SIMOVAC-AR Arc-Resistant Motor Controllers

The Siemens SIMOVAC medium-voltage non-arc-resistant and SIMOVAC-AR arc-resistant controllers have a modular design incorporating up to two 12SVC400 (400 A) controllers, housed in a freestanding sheet steel enclosure. Each controller is UL 347 class E2, equipped with three current-limiting fuses, a non-load-break isolating switch, and a fixed-mounted vacuum contactor (plug-in type optional for 12SVC400). The enclosure is designed for front access, allowing the equipment to be located with the rear of the equipment close to a non-combustible wall.

Read More


Sponsored Content
Electrify Your Enterprise

Power is vital to production, and well-designed control cabinets are key. Allied Electronics & Automation offers a comprehensive collection of control cabinet solutions including PLCs, HMIs, contactors, miniature circuit breakers, terminal block connectors, DIN-rail power supplies, pushbutton switches, motor starters, overloads, power relays, industrial Ethernet switches and AC drives engineered to keep your operations running safely, reliably and efficiently.

Learn more HERE.


Products for Panel Builders

  • Panduit: G6 PDU Series Boosts Panduit PDU Offerings

    Panduit: G6 PDU Series Boosts Panduit PDU Offerings

    Panduit is pleased to announce the global release of its G6 PDU Series. The innovative G6 line marries the best-in-class form factor of the G5 Series with an upgraded intelligence card to bring faster performance along with new functions and cybersecurity improvements to customers. Among the main features of the G6 PDU is its low-profile… Read More…

  • Russelectric, A Siemens Business: ATS Remote Annunciator

    Russelectric, A Siemens Business: ATS Remote Annunciator

    Russelectric, A Siemens Business, introduces its new ATS Remote Annunciator (RTS-RA), a powerful accessory that brings together data from multiple Automatic Transfer Switches into a single display. The remote annunciator is designed to be configured by the customer. It allows monitoring of the position and status of up to eight Russelectric ATS types RTSCD and… Read More…