From palletisation to packaging, picking to production lines, Industry 4.0 has arrived and the number of applications where robots and humans are collaborating is rising. Technology is constantly evolving and operations are looking to boost efficiency by integrating innovative, high-performing equipment that can add real value.
KUKA is a world leader in the production of industrial robots. The company was originally founded in 1898 and focused on producing affordable illumination, before diversifying its operations throughout the 20th century. In 1973 KUKA developed the world’s first industrial robot with six electromechanically driven axes, establishing itself as a robotics pioneer.
Since 2004, KUKA has focused its business on providing cutting-edge automation solutions and now boasts a Guinness World Record for the world’s largest and strongest 6-axis industrial robot. Though its home is in Augsburg, Germany, the global company now has several headquarters across Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
KUKA offers tailor-made automation solutions for a wide variety of industries, including automotive, e-commerce, consumer goods, and electronics. From industrial robot systems, to a complete production system, KUKA believe there is a solution to be found for every customer.
Yale and KUKA: the perfect fit
Recently, the Italian headquarters of KUKA integrated Yale solutions into its Turin warehouse. As companies who both put the needs of the customer at the centre of what they do, and have the flexibility to provide full solutions or integrate with existing ones, the synergy between the approach of KUKA and Yale proved to be a natural fit.
KUKA required a consistent yet flexible operation; in its warehouse are a variety of shapes and sizes of automated solutions, from small and lightweight collaborative robots to large and industrial robots weighing an impressive 4500kg.
Any materials handling equipment therefore had to be adaptable enough to handle a range of loads, as well as operate efficiently on a daily basis with minimum downtime. KUKA turned to trusted Yale dealer Unicar to create the optimum solution.
Yale solution for the world of robotics
Unicar has been a Yale dealer in Italy since 1992 and today the company has three branches and a network of 29 local dealerships. Unicar aims to offer customers innovative solutions tailored to meet the needs of each application. For KUKA, the solution comprises Yale ERP30VL and ERP40VM electric counterbalance forklifts.
Due to the weight of the parts being handled on site, KUKA opted for both medium and heavy duty equipment. VM Series electric trucks are built for intensive use and capable of handling multiple loads, making them ideally suited to heavy-duty applications. Both the VM and VL Series are powered by 80 volt batteries and offer the same performance as internal combustion engine models, all the while, delivering excellent durability and reliability.
Superior ergonomics and productivity are central to the Yale philosophy. The Yale forklifts supplied to KUKA come with a host of ergonomic features designed to optimise operator comfort and boost productivity. A full suspension seat, adjustable armrest with built-in hydraulic controls, and low whole-body vibration compartment help reduce operator fatigue, while a ‘head up’ display keeps the operator’s field of vision clear and provides truck operating information at a glance.
When it comes to performance features, the energy balance (e-Balance) of performance, manoeuvrability, and battery shift life can all be matched to the needs of the application, increasing productivity and throughput and significantly reducing the cost per pallet moved. An extended steer axle with continuous stability enhancement offers increased articulation, allowing the truck to manoeuvre easily in narrow working aisles and provide maximum operating comfort even on uneven surfaces.
“We sell several hundred robots a year and our recently expanded premises now house a showroom and KUKA College Training Centre along with our sales and service support teams. KUKA has a logistics and automation subsidiary, Swisslog, which focuses on robotic and data-driven intralogistics and KUKA uses this internal expertise to help choose suppliers who are able to deliver the same high levels of safety, effectiveness, and productivity as we do,” said Alberto Pellero, Director of Strategy and Marketing at KUKA Italy.