Hirotec America, a supplier of weld assembly equipment to major OEMs, has introduced an automated machine in its production operation in Michigan.

A Yaskawa Motoman dual-arm manipulator has been integrated into an OTTO 1500 self-driving vehicle from OTTO Motors to pick up and dip parts in black oxide for corrosion protection.

The process involves dipping parts in a sequence of buckets with specific time delays between each one to allow parts to become properly oxidized and provide the right corrosion resistance.

Previously, the process was completed manually by whoever happened to be available on the shopfloor, according to the company. This meant the process was prone to error and often needed repeating, however, impacting on productivity and throughput.

Peter Mourelatos, R&D project engineer at Hirotec America, said: “We can rely on the OTTO solution to do the same thing, exactly the same way, every time.

“We’re seeing much more consistent parts than we saw with our manual process,” he added. “We don’t have to run the parts through multiple times any more, which has improved our productivity in spare parts production.”

The Hirotec America division is part of the global Hirotec Group and contributes $200m to its total of $1.6 billion in worldwide sales.

“We’ve successfully implemented mobile manipulation at our site, and I can see the OTTO vehicle being used by Hirotec operations globally,” said Mourelatos.