Saint-Gobain deploys a collaborative robot in one of its special glass plant

Saint-Gobain chose its production plant in Sully-sur-Loire to deploy collaborative robots among its workers. Robots will help them in a particularly difficult task: polishing special glass.
A new illustration of the arrival of industrial 4.0 concepts in a company more than 350 years old.

A robot to help polish special glazing

Dedicated to the production of special glass, the 2 Saint-Gobain production plants in Sully-sur-Loire in the Loiret region produce only small series. It is a thousand windshields that leave the Sully-sur-Loire plants every year, particularly for the planes and helicopters manufactured by Airbus and for the Dassault Aviation Rafale.

A small-scale production of very technical glasses with, paradoxically, certain manufacturing phases that have remained manual, such as polishing. This task requires the know-how of a highly skilled worker, but it is nonetheless tedious and painful. To assist human operators, the plant has set up Universal Robots UR10 robots. They show the robot the movement to be applied to the glass and the arm, equipped with the Robotiq torque sensor, repeats the movement until the glass is perfectly polished.

The operator no longer has to hold the tool himself and thus support vibrations, which is a direct gain in musculoskeletal disorders. The ROI on the installation of this robot was less than a year and the productivity of the station could be significantly improved since the same production can be carried out in 2 x 8 hours against 3 x 8 previously. The operator remains essential for launching each polishing operation to place the glazing on the frame and then prepare the surface for polishing. Ignacio Sanchez, head of Digital Engineering at Saint-Gobain assures that the objective is not to reduce the number of jobs.

Source: “Reduce Injuries and Increase Productivity with the FT 300 Force Torque Sensor”, Robotiq Release

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