ABB’s YuMi collaborative robots (cobots) are playing a pivotal role in reshoring production and addressing workforce shortages for SUS Corporation, a key provider of aluminum frames and die-cast aluminum components to the automotive and manufacturing sectors.
Joerg Reger, Managing Director of ABB Robotics Automotive Business Line, comments on the trend of reshoring as a response to supply chain disruptions and uncertainties. He notes, “Reshoring can bring its own complexities. Our flexible automation solutions are designed to tackle these challenges. It’s rewarding to see SUS Corporation experiencing time savings, improved production efficiency, and adaptability in supply management through our automation solutions. This underscores that automation is not exclusively for large OEMs.”
Faced with significant global supply chain disruptions, SUS Corporation has shifted its production back to Shizuoka, Japan, to enhance lead time management and flexibility. However, recruitment and retention challenges due to the repetitive nature of the production process and labor shortages have hindered achieving desired production volumes.
The introduction of YuMi dual-armed cobots has revolutionised SUS Corporation’s assembly line, enhancing productivity by 20% and offering essential flexibility for demand fluctuations. The company anticipates a return on investment within two years.
The automation solution, developed using ABB’s RobotStudio® simulation software, was designed and optimised virtually before real-world implementation. The software confirmed YuMi’s capability to perform complex assembly tasks, aiding SUS Corporation in making informed investment decisions. The company is now exploring further automation opportunities across different product lines and processes.
Akihiro Taki, Team Manager of the Die-casting Team at SUS Corporation’s Shizuoka site, explains the benefits: “The cobots have automated monotonous tasks, allowing our workforce to focus on more fulfilling roles like operation management. Additionally, the system enables reduced night-time staffing, cutting down the number of dedicated assembly machines from 11 to five.”
ABB’s recent Automotive Manufacturing Outlook Survey highlights labor shortages as a major challenge, with 31% of respondents citing it as a top concern and 35% considering it a significant factor in rising costs.