Every second of every day in any year around the world, Electrolux sells two of its products. This is an impressive feat, and requires state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, such as the first fully automated and flexible powder coating facility for oven and grill cavities recently installed at Electrolux’s manufacturing plant in Dudley Park, South Australia.
Utilising four ABB six-axis robots to control powder coating gun movement, the new automated process ensures a consistent and superior high gloss ceramic coating for over 2000 oven and grill cavities a day, and a coating material efficiency improvement of 10 percent.
The total investment in the powder coating facility will be returned through savings within two years.
By using six axis articulated robots rather than linear reciprocators, the system is also highly flexible and allows different types of cavities to be processed at any time, which is critical as the site manufactures over 120 different oven models. The new process was installed under the stewardship of Colin Thomas, manufacturing engineering co-ordinator of Electrolux Home Products and replaces an enamel flow-coating process that was very labour intensive.
According to Colin Thomas, “The benefits from deploying the robots were almost immediate. The automated powder coating system replaces a wet enamel flow-coating process, where ovens and grill boxes were manually loaded onto a station that flooded the inside with wet enamel. Operators had to manually clear away the enamel from the interior – before the oven cavity was sent through a drying oven. Following this, there was another manual spray station.”
Electrolux have achieved significant sustainability benefits. They have integrated sustainability into all aspects of their operations, from performance improvements in their new Eco Range of products to factory emissions reduction targets of 15 percent by year end 2012.
Automated oven cavity enamelling process
The new robotics process consists of a four stage ceramic powder coating line in which different sized and orientated oven and grill cavities are suspended from a moving, overhead transfer conveyor. Four ABB IRB 2400 six-axis robots are fixed to an inverted support structure, equipped with a ceramic powder coating nozzle system supplied by Nordson Australia. They operate in conjunction with the conveyor, which travels along at speeds of up to 3.2 metres per minute. This enables up to 240 items per hour to be coated and equates to a production rate of one item per 15 seconds.
At the identification station in the four stage process, the robot’s IRC5 controller monitors the conveyor’s progress and distinguishes the orientation and differences in the oven cavities and grill boxes. This information is transferred to the Nordson supervisory controller via a Profibus Network which enables the appropriate powder gun setting to be selected for that particular item. The robotic arm, complete with powder gun mounted, moves itself to the precise position to apply the perfect powder pattern for a high gloss enamel finish to the oven cavity or grill cavity.
ABB is represented in this country by ABB Australia .