Eaton factory in Arad, western Romania, manufactures life safety goods. The plant has deployed four MiR Autonomous Mobile Robots. The robots transport components to assembly lines and then pick up finished products. Moreover, the company plans to implement another machine - at the emerging SMT (surface mount technology) location, the MiR250 will take care of transportation. AMRs optimize processes and enable employees to develop competencies while focusing on more valuable tasks.

Issue and solution

The Eaton plant was primarily looking for a solution to its staffing shortage. In addition, transportation of components and products has been a field to optimize expenses and employee time. Before the implementation of AMRs, the processes of transporting components to assembly lines and collecting finished products were handled by employees. They used mainly manual forklifts in their work. Managers wanted to relieve the workforce and shift employees to more value-added tasks, like complex assemblies.

Eaton in Arad began looking for ideas to address these issues. After reviewing the capabilities of various solutions and contacting suppliers, the company selected two models of mobile robots. First, in 2019, Eaton deployed two MiR200 models, which can carry loads of 200 kg and move at a maximum speed of 4 km/h. As of 2022, there are also two MiR500s in the facility, capable of carrying 500 kg and reaching a pace of 7.2 km/h. The company already has another machine, the MiR250, which will take care of product delivery and collection at the emerging SMT location, an environment controlled for parameters. Eaton chose MIR because of the safety and autonomous driving requirements.

Intralogistics optimization

The Arad site is the first Eaton plant to deploy autonomous Mobile Industrial Robots. According to Bogdan Brindas, Engineering Manager of the Life Safety Division, safety is key, especially regarding the collision-free operation and the ability to adjust the robots' speed to the current conditions.

„From my engineering point of view, however, autonomous driving is crucial. Thanks to it, we do not have to control the robots while driving. AMRs move autonomously on their missions. In terms of the work they do, payload capacity is important because AMRs can carry multiple layers of products on a single pallet. Also essential is their ease of use, which does not require the constant presence of a specialist” – says Bogdan Brindas.

Workers who now deal with robots highlight that their duties have changed for the better.

After the implementation of MIR robots, the workloads associated with the handling of products and displacements in the factory were reduced. Working with robots is easy, and now I spend more time controlling assembly processes and operations. I also have more time for professional development. Thanks to the MiR robots, the operational efficiency has increased, and the quality of work has improved

Bogdan Brindas

Engineering Manager of the Life Safety Division

40 kilometers saved per day

Data on daily robot routes provide the finest illustration of the scope of improvements. MiR’s  AMRs at the Eaton plant work six days a week and operate two shifts. Each day, the MiR500s carry more than 100 pallets, covering 120-150 meters during each mission, which means they drive 12-15 kilometers. MiR200s, on the other hand, do about 150 missions and cover 25 kilometers. Previously, humans had to walk the same 37 or 40 kilometers.

In total, AMRs operate 45 lines and numerous Kanban locations. Robots begin their mission when they get a signal from an employee who presses an RFID button. As they approach the rack, MiR500 robots pick up the pallets and carry them to the docking station. For the MiR200, the line feeder first provides details regarding the missing material. The warehouse operator retrieves the material from the rack, loads it onto the MiR200, and selects one of the missions. Using a sound, the robot signals that it has arrived, the line-feeder picks up the load, and the AMR returns to the charging dock.

Before deploying the robots, Eaton installed pick-up locations at standardized alleys from which the robots take pallets of finished products. Along with integrating the machines with its racks and software, the company enhanced the network signal to make it simpler to connect with AMRs.

„Each rack from the docking station has a presence sensor. The scope of the role of this sensor is to tell the AMR robot whether the place is empty or not so that robots can place the pallet. The AMR, which is back he's saying now and scanning the empty position. If one of the positions is filled, the robot will detect it and he will not place the pallet there.” – says Bogdan Brindas.

About Eaton

Eaton is involved in improving people's lives and the environment through reliable, efficient, and safe energy management technologies. Among other products, the company manufactures products in the areas of safety, security, and emergency communications. Other business areas include control, drive technology, and industrial automation, as well as server racks. The company's history dates back to 1911. Today, Eaton operates in 175 countries, has more than 50 factories, and employs over 85,000 people worldwide.