Benchmark Electronics, an engineering, manufacturing and integrated technology solutions provider for original equipment manufacturers, deployed four UR5 and two UR10e collaborative robots (cobots) for assembly and testing tasks in its Thailand production facility. With cobots, the company is seeing greater output quality with fewer human errors. Operational efficiency has improved by 25% while as much as 10% of manufacturing space has been saved. Operators have been transferred to higher-skilled jobs, involving complex assembly processes, following the integration of cobots in the production process.

Committed to providing world-class manufacturing services, Benchmark Thailand designed an automated assembly and testing production line to revolutionize its Thai facility, simultaneously addressing the need to improve production efficiency, output quality and customer satisfaction.

Finding the right robotic solution for the applications was important to ensuring the automated line would run successfully. After much research, the engineering team identified cobots as the perfect fit because of their user-friendly design and ability to work alongside workers safely.

The company had tested numerous robot brands but found that UR, being the world-leading cobot brand, best met its operational needs. The cobots are easy to program and are able to work alongside operators safely. The cobots are also highly flexible, enabling the company to easily redeploy and reprogram them for other tasks, should there be a change in the production process or timeline.

Although new to robotics, the engineering team was able to program and integrate the cobots into the production line within a few days. The excellent support from Thai distributor Autoflexible Advanced Engineering, who provided training and advice during the setup process, helped ensure the team embraced the new technology swiftly and effectively.

"Much like my team, I did not have any prior experience with cobots. I learned a lot during the setup process and picked up cobot programming and systems integration in just a few days," said Project Engineer Udomsak Insome, who initiated the automation project.

During the setup, the engineering team made a risk assessment of the whole process. As the cobot comes standard with 17 built-in safety functions, the applications were deemed low risk and safety guarding was not needed, saving the company hefty renovation costs.

Benchmark also found resources in UR+, a global product platform featuring certified plug and play components and kits for UR cobots, acquiring a vision device which quickened the cobot installation.

"Through Universal Robots cobots, we see greater consistency in our production output and minimal human error. We have improved operational efficiency by 25% and saved manufacturing space by 10%. This will be good for new business opportunities. We are also expected to achieve ROI within 18 months," said Boonlert Aukkarapichata, Director of Operations at Benchmark Thailand.