In 1984, Victa Lawncare in Sydney installed an IRB60 robot from ABB Australia , to palletise mowers for domestic sale and the export markets.
This palletising robot worked tirelessly for the next 24 years, palletising several hundred thousand mowers that end up either ‘turning grass into lawn’ in Australian backyards, or taming gardens scattered over 30 countries across the globe.
The continuous operation for 24 years, places the IRB60 robot at Victa’s Sydney factory in the record books as one of the longest serving ABB robots in the world.
The ABB palletising robot has also performed memorably, successfully carrying out, with exacting precision, the same repetitive task for 24 years and has done so in such a reliable and productive way, that it has required only minimal change during its entire lifecycle. Regular maintenance and support from ABB’s field service and Victa’s factory staff were contributing factors to its success.
Unfortunately during 2008, the IRB60 palletising robot veteran required a spare part which had become difficult to obtain, prompting ABB’s field service engineers and Victa’s engineers to start looking at alternatives for their manufacturing facility.
“The final solution we proposed included re-utilisation of a year 2000 model IRB 6600 robot that was listed for sale online at ABB’s Used Robot Zone,” said Greg Sale, ABB’s robotics service business development manager. “The robot was one of hundreds of used robots listed in our global inventory and had very low operating hours due to spending most if its life as a test and training robot.“
“Because of the success of the system installed in 1984, an important part of the project was to ensure reliable equipment was re-used wherever possible, so with the IRB 6600 robot we were able to utilise many of the dependable pieces of the palletising system already installed on Victa’s site,” said Greg.
Eugene Lobo, Victa engineer, added: “ABB were also conscious of our desire to keep costs to a minimum, and with this in mind they conducted a full on-site inspection to assess what could be salvaged. A complete inventory was developed detailing the equipment to be kept and those items that needed updating. These new items ensure the reliability that we had become accustomed to. Once this was finalised, the production rates were then nailed down.”
The project started in August 2008 and was completed and fully installed within weeks and involved several experienced ABB service personnel working on-site for a period of seven days.
“We are very happy with the end result and would recommend investigating the cost and other benefits of re-utilising robotics equipment to others,” said Eugene. “We have a highly productive palletising system and have kept many features, such as the operator interface that were familiar to our process operators. We also utilised the existing gripper, conveyors and some of the fencing.”