Mr Darque, could you outline the Plastic Omnium Group for us, please?

Maxime Darque: Plastic Omnium is an automotive industry supplier specialising in intelligent bodywork systems, clean energy systems and modules. We offer a wide range of products, from spares for bodywork (bumpers, energy absorption systems, hatchbacks, spoilers, wings and underseals), fuel storage and feed systems to front block modules (shock absorbers, lighting and engine cooling systems, live radiator components, radars and sensors to help driving). Our Group has 135 production sites and 25 R&D centres worldwide.

The factory in Ruitz (Hauts-de-France) where I work as Maintenance Officers produces principally bumpers and hatchbacks for the PSA Group, Opel, Renault and Volvo. We produce 25,000 parts a day and have 11 650 T to 3,200 T injection presses and 110 injection moulds.

What is your role within Plastic Omnium Ruitz?

MD: I’m a Maintenance Officer and my role is to organise and follow-up the maintenance of the assembly line machines. I optimise the quality and safety of the team’s operations and ensure the interface between production and the other support services. I also take part in the continuous improvement of the factory’s strategy and propose the installation of new tools and machines in order to improve our performance. It’s in this context that I was assigned to the project for retrofitting the No. 9 robotic press on which we’re working with DV GROUP.

Can you tell us about this project for retrofitting the robot? What does it entail?

MD: Following nearly 19 years’ service, we were encountering difficulties with out KUKA (KR2150L110K) KRC2-type robot from 2002 in our No. 9 press. The obsolescence of the robot and its robotics was leading to substantial expenditure and spare parts were becoming more and more difficult to find. In addition, after a change of premises and having moved the complete cell, it was very difficult for the machine operators to restore everything. It was imperative that we find a solution to remedy this situation. We defined our needs and drafted the specifications with Christian Delannoy, DV GROUP Project Manager. The aims of this project were to replace the obsolete robot, improve the safety of the robot’s working envelope, set up latest generation robotics and a new electrical cupboard, centralised steering and finally I/O connected venturis.

Why did you choose to entrust us with this project?

MD: Plastic Omnium has been in contact with DV GROUP for several years because some factory poles entrust maintenance work to you. As far as robotics and automation are concerned, this was a first collaboration for us! Following a presentation at the DV GROUP Engineering Pole by one of your Technical Sales Engineers, we really wanted to give you this new project. We were definitely looking for an integrator with expertise in both automatism and robotics, rare skills for service-providers. In addition, your proximity to our Douvrin and Ruitz sites to your agencies in the region ended up convincing us as we have a partner able to intervene in case of emergency.

One of our sine qua non conditions for carrying out this project was the use of KUKA products. Indeed, our entire injection pole comprises KUKA robots. It was fundamental for us to stay within the same range in order to facilitate our operators’ work, as they are already familiar with the equipment, and as DV GROUP is an official KUKA partner, we quite naturally took the decision to entrust you with this project.

What has our robotics solution brought for you?

MD: The project has been finalised less than a year, so it’s early for giving precise indicators. Nevertheless, I can already say that we’re very satisfied to have evolved towards a KRC4-type robot. We have gained in efficiency and also in simplicity, particularly on the automatism side. The new interface is more user-friendly and the preconfigured messages allow us to easily steer the installation, identify problems immediately and sort them out in record time. In addition, we are more trouble-free regarding the future of our new equipment as we won’t have to plan for any part replacements. Finally, thanks to the “KUKA Diagnosis Safety” software and the work carried out on safety by the robot’s working envelope, we no longer suffer any collisions and breakages.

What conclusions do you draw from our collaboration?

MD: Our collaboration has been excellent all round! You’ve supported us well from the design phase up to post-project follow-up. You understood our needs well, have listened closely to us and above all, you have been open to collaborating with our team. In order to successfully conclude a project like this one, it was indispensable for us to discuss our respective experience and expertise and it was very pleasant working together. My greatest fear was that the timing wouldn’t be complied with, as we had given you a very short deadline. In fact, the commissioning was carried out during the close-down period and we couldn’t allow ourselves to be late restarting, owing to some large client orders which we had to honour. Everything went very well and thank you for an excellent job!