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Universal Robots Draw the Crowds in Regent Street

Two Universal Robots UR10 articulated arms are capturing the attention of those passing the display window of a prestigious new store in London’s West End. Global sportswear giant ASICS has recently opened its flagship European retail premises on Regent Street, where front-of-house UR10 robots – supplied and commissioned by RARUK Automation – are engaging shoppers with eye-catching routines that include producing drawings of trainers on the store’s impressive front glazing.

When the management team of ASICS decided that it wanted to dress the principal display window of its new London store with robots, the appointed AV system integrator made the call to its trusted resource in this technology area – RARUK Automation. As a UK supplier of articulated collaborative robot (cobot) arms from Universal Robots (UR), RARUK Automation set to work on turning ASICS’ concepts into reality.

In a first-of-its-kind application, one of the ideas was for the robots to pick-up felt pens, draw a trainer (one robot draws the side view, while the other – located alongside – draws the sole view), put the pens down, pick up wipers, erase the drawings, put down the wipers and repeat the cycle.

The skill in completing this task lay mainly in the programming, aided by ArtiMinds RPS software. Fortunately, RARUK Automation is far more than a supplier/distributor, adding considerable value through services that include programming, training and project management.

“The routine required 300 programming points for the side view and around 900 for the sole view, so it was quite intricate,” explains Darren Reynolds, Operations Director at RARUK Automation. “We had to generate programs for three different types of the latest ASICS trainers, with cycle times purposely slow at around 60 minutes for each drawing.”

Along with the programming, several challenges presented themselves in relation to the glazing. Due to the position of the window it is prone to sufficient expansion and contraction caused by the heat of the sun this had an effect on the robot drawing position.

“We had some challenges along the way” says Mr Reynolds. “However, with our expertise in UR robots and determination to meet the timescale, we managed to get things done on time. Admittedly we were on site at 10:30 pm the night before the store opened, but that’s because we’re always prepared to go the extra mile if it means getting the job right for the customer.”

The UR10 robots at ASICS are fitted with Robotiq 2F85 electric finger-adaptive grippers which, like the robots, feature force-adjustable collaborative technology. This innovative functionality means the robots and grippers can operate collaboratively with humans safe in the knowledge that they will come to a safe and immediate stop even in the event of the smallest ‘bump’.

Another task required by ASICS was for the UR10 robots to pick up and rotate trainers at different angles using the same grippers that are deployed for the pens. Again, thanks to the programming knowledge of RARUK Automation, the task was achieved successfully.

As well as supplying the robots and grippers, RARUK Automation also fitted each UR10 with an Alumotion YouRing smart light tool. Bolted on the robot tool flange, the wireless YouRing accessories feature LED technology and powerful sound emitters to warn users about the oncoming arrival of the articulated arm. Special light and sound effects are easily programmed to indicate specific modes, such as direction of motion, for example, thus enhancing both safety and the rate of interaction between man and machine.

“To complete the project, we are now in the process of setting up a remote access solution for the system integrator that is based on Robotiq Insights,” concludes Mr Reynolds. “If the robots stop for any reason, a message will be issued immediately so that an investigation can commence.”

As well as downtime reporting, Robotiq Insights provides real-time data about cycles completed, efficiency, waiting time and overall robot utilisation.

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