Mitsubishi Electric has unveiled the first member of its MELFA Assista series of collaborative robots, or cobots. These machines are designed to offer maximum safety and durability combined with ease of use and programming, while maintaining high positional repeatability. The RV-5AS-D-S99 MELFA Assista allows companies to automate a broad range of production line processes: from machine loading, device assembly, kitting and un-kitting of parts to testing and inspection. They are due for commercial release in the UK during the first quarter of 2020. The challenge for a true cobot is to remain

helpful while allowing a high degree of autonomous interaction with a human operator. Unlike an assistive arm used frequently for manipulation of heavy objects, or an industrial robot that works at high speeds but merely slows down or stops in the presence of a human operative, a cobot has to be interactive. Teaching a robot how to do tasks which help

a human operative has to happen quickly and intuitively, which is why the cobot can be programmed via a PC, touch screen HMI, or simply by hitting the ‘save’ button and guiding and teaching the arm through the required sequence of movements. Adjusting the sequence or the positions held

is just as quick and easy which makes the robot an adaptable, easy to teach assistant that is totally consistent with its repeatability. This makes it suitable for complex and/or delicate assembly, work holding or pick and place tasks where the operator will have a preferred way of working and will benefit from the robot’s assistance. A solution that guarantees operational safety

alongside its flexibility and high positional accuracy was the aim for the design team that developed the RV Series Assista model. Payloads are consequentially relatively low as the arm is force limited for safety. It also has to be very responsive in terms of touch sensitivity, which limits overall speed. Positioning accuracy however is comparable with industrial robots. The safety features and technical

specifications are in accordance with ISO/TS 15066 guidelines on “Robots and robotic devices — Collaborative robots”. The six-axis articulated arm features a slim profile and good reach from a small footprint, so can be used as a desk-top unit, or deployed within the confines of an individual work cell. Where the cobot stands out from other

existing collaborative solutions is in its positional repeatability. While other cobots feature positioning accuracy repeatability values of ±1 mm, the RV-5AS-D-S99 MELFA Assista

offers positioning accuracies as low as ±0.02 mm. This is comparable with high-performance industrial robots. The MELFA Assista also uses some of the

design principles of Mitsubishi Electric’s MELFA industrial robots in order to maximise durability and reliability. In fact, the service life of this new cobot is in line with standard MELFA industrial robots, some of which have been running smoothly for over 30 years. The result is less frequent maintenance tasks and lower operating costs. When it comes to ease of use, operators will

benefit from some new features such as a six- colour LED ring, mounted around the robot “forearm”, to provide quick visual recognition of the arm’s current status. Each colour identifies a different mode of operation, alarms or faults. This feature sits next to the keypad that

provides an intuitive interface to ‘teach’ the robot a task to perform, as well as to start and stop the robot or reset errors. In ‘direct control’ mode the operator manipulates the robot into position by hand and with controlled force. This position can then be stored and added to the existing motion sequence or attributed to an individual command without the need to open the programming tools. In addition, it is possible to programme

motion sequences via RT Visual that can run on conventional PC operating systems. As the name suggests, programming is designed to be graphical and intuitive. Operators can select drag and drop motion icons to define the intended movements, as well as simulate robot operations. Barry Weller, product manager at Mitsubishi

Electric, said: “Accuracy and ease of use have taken a significant step forward with this product, which is the culmination of technical development as well as many hours of field testing and user feedback. I believe our latest MELFA Assista collaborative robot opens up new opportunities for cobots in a number of sectors.”



TriVision used the PPMA show in Birmingham last month to debut its VisioPointer quality control system in the UK. The system is designed to benefit food and packaging businesses seeking to improve daily operations and reduce waste. The stand-alone system amalgamates several

hundred previous versions of quality control systems, and combines cameras and software, engineered to immediately detect errors and identity faults elsewhere in the manufacturing chain. For food and packaging companies this drives production efficiencies, prevents expensive product recalls and crucially allows these businesses to meet with UN sustainability development goals on reducing food waste. Engineered as a full in or end-of-line inspection

system, the VisioPointer has already proven itself with companies including Danish Crown and Arla Foods. Arla Foods deploys it VisioPointer to detect packaging errors such as seal contamination, quality defects and incorrect labelling before they leave the production site. This ensures that inaccuracies are remedied before the company incurs transport costs and provides the added benefit of protecting its brand reputation. According to Bjarne Randrup Nielsen, production line manger, Arla Foods, the company enjoyed a significant decrease in production delays, waste reduction and customer complaints following the installation of VisioPointer.




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