March 01, 2006
Flexible robots speed up production around the Grundfos factories. The greatest number is found in Danish plant Ålestrup, but the factory in Wahlstedt, Germany has quite a few as well.
It is not a question of sacking real people when robots take over the work around Grundfos.
On the contrary, the Grundfos robots have created more jobs. Today, the robotic staff amounts to 124 "souls".
Robots have contributed to making the work processes far more efficient. Thus, they have made way for increased earnings, and at the same time taken over most of the tedious routine tasks that used to cause attrition and monotonous work. At several production sites, the robots have even taken over job functions that were hazardous to the employees.
- The robotisation gained momentum at Grundfos in the mid-1990s, and since then the number has risen steadily to its present level, Gert Madsen informs us.
Gert Madsen is senior development engineer at the Technology Centre and has worked with robot technology at Grundfos since the first robots entered the shop floor.
- We have reached a saturation point. We do not employ robots in production at the same rate as earlier. When a robot is employed, it should be for functions that involve production of large batches. There are not many of those tasks left. I spend quite an amount of time observing where, and in particular how, robots can take over new tasks. It is a job that demands quite a bit of imagination, Gert Madsen emphasises.
- If it does not exist, we develop it ourselves. When we buy a robot, it comes as a standard module. After that, we start developing it for the exact purposes and needs we have at Grundfos. Once they have undergone further development at the Technology Centre, the robots can do practically anything. In short, the Grundfos robots are trend-setting in their field, Gert Madsen tells us.
Through research, Grundfos has developed work programmes and unique systems for quick replacement of tools that are expandable according to need. Thus, each single robot will be able to perform many different types of tasks. This solution is ideal e.g. in the production of parts for CR pumps. Mainly because Grundfos focuses particularly on system integration, creating growth and saving money and space.
Since the start, a single robot in the CR factory has processed over two million chambers, and the number is growing steadily every day. Currently, over a dozen robots are "employed" at the CR factory.