Client: Queen's, and Unitrunk on Successful Robotics Collaboration
Knowledge Provider: Queen's University
Sector: Advanced Engineering
Queen's, and Unitrunk on Successful Robotics Collaboration
Queen's University and Unitrunk Group working together using robotics in manufacturing process.
Originally established 50 years ago as a family run engineering company, the Unitrunk Group developed a specialised division manufacturing Cable Management Systems in 1984. One of the technical challenges the company faces is achieving absolute consistency in the forming of its cable management systems and to address this issue, it sought to utilise advanced robotics in its steel forming procedures, drawing on the expert assistance of NITC to bring this about.
Using robotics imparts a high degree of consistency and reliability in the manufacturing process, and for Unitrack, it also allowed the company to run production after normal hours. The benefit to Unitrack of working with NITC was that it allowed the development work to be carried out in a controlled environment. When first approaching this project, the company had wrongly assumed that robotics would be a straightforward solution to put in place, as in itself, robotics is not new technology. But because of the small size of Unitrack’s components and the high production speeds required, the project turned out to be much more complex than anticipated.
The project began when a Queen’s University student was placed with Unitrunk, with the role of investigating the latest folding technologies. By working off site, Unitrack was able to use the technology available at NITC, which together with the grant funding provided by Invest NI, enabled the three-year project to be completed. The project was a success on all fronts. It allowed the NITC team to increase is knowledge of robotic press braking and to develop a strong relationship with a manufacturing company.
Graham Milligan, Business Improvement manager at Unitrunk, had this to say about the overall project: “This is our first experience of working with robotics and we hope that it’s only the beginning. Now that we’ve built the relationship with the Northern Ireland Technology Centre, we’d like to bring that forward into the future for new innovations with not only our processes, but also our products.”