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Flexible Robot Arms Yield 18 Month ROI for Swedish Contract Manufacturer

With three new robot arms from Universal Robots, LEAX Group now benefits from a genuinely flexible resource that can be moved around between their 11 factories according to need. To them, the robotic arms are a long-term investment that future-proofs possible changes in the product portfolio.

LEAX Group, a Swedish contract manufacturer, often moves machinery within the factory in order to find the best flows. Sometimes entire flows are transported to other LEAX sites. So the automated solution the company was looking for had to be flexible, easy to program and with efficient use of space.

One of LEAX Group's 11 factories -- this one is located in Köping, Sweden.



The 1,100 employee company produces drive shafts, main shafts, input and output shafts, drill bits, industrial gearboxes, synchronizing and bearing rings, and complete propeller shafts for heavy vehicles.

"We manufacture everything from small annual volumes up to 100,000 units of a particular article per year. For us it is extremely important, as well as one of the company's strengths, that we are able to quickly execute orders for new products. We have very high requirements for how quickly we can start up a unit," said Rickard Isaksson, Quality Manager at LEAX Group.

One of the three UR10 robot arms the LEAX Group purchased from Universal Robots.



LEAX Mechanical decided to invest in three UR10 robot arms from Universal Robots for its plant in Köping, Sweden. They are used for changing bits within a shaving machine and for loading and unloading two gear-cutting machines by means of a three-fingered gripper.

Isaksson explains that the UR10s are a long-term investment: "If we compare it to a normal machine then the payback time is 18 months, assuming that the operator runs two shifts. But it's far too narrow an outlook to simply calculate the payback time. Suppose that in three years we will stop manufacturing a certain product. Then we can use the UR10 again with new and other applications. If we had designed something specifically for a certain product, we would not be in the same position."

LEAX engineers found that programming the UR10 robot was easy and intuitive.



The flexible UR robots optimized both production and the use of space while enabling agile manufacturing. LEAX has found value in their easy programming, fast setup, flexible deployment, and safety.

"During the start-up phase, we were anxious to test the safety of the robot," says Stefan Frölind, Automation Engineer at LEAX Group. "Each time we touched it, it stopped. So it felt safe to work with. Whenever I get in the robot's way, it stops really easily. Afterwards, you just have to reset it and restart it."

Working collaboratively with the robot arm has proven to be very safe.



LEAX integrated the UR10 with another type of robot and they work together communicating with each other. "The programming was very easy. Most of it was intuitive," added Frölind.

Flexible automation is now the most important core issue at LEAX. Having a flexible setup and being able to produce a lot quicker as they move the robot around is the key to their business.

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