Robotic Materials Testing: Optimum Quality Assurance at Reduced Cost

The Zwick Roell Group is the world leader in the field of automated material and component testing. With precise, innovative, reliable testing machines and intelligent software, the company provides customized solutions for almost all test tasks of modern mechanical material testing in 20 different branches. Around 900 staff members, a production facility in Ulm, further headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, USA and Singapore as well as worldwide agencies in 56 countries ensure presence and customer service all around the globe. Zwick has now installed over 300 robotic testing systems around the globe for a range of testing functions, including hardness, tension, compression, torsion, surface quality, dimensional accuracy etc.

Surviving the Modern Consumer

The need for efficient, effective product testing saturates our material world. By automating the test process, robotic solutions enable manufacturers to better compete in an aggressive marketplace. Consumers benefit from safer, more functional products.

Armed with internet access, today's consumer can quickly and easily amass a wealth of comparative data and peer reviews about any product they plan to purchase. Post purchase, unhappy consumers can, and will, air any grievance in the swift, uncompromising feedback loop delivered across the very public arena of the World Wide Web. To remain competitive manufacturers must meet the expectations of this more discerning end-user in addition to complying with increasingly rigid health and safety regulations. A product must be both functional and robust. It must simply work, and keep working.

The majority of consumer products are built by assembling multiple elements made from different materials. Each material has its own strengths and weaknesses and, once assembled, the product as a whole will also demonstrate characteristic structural properties. Most often, failure of any single element within a particular product will constitute the failure of the product as a whole.

An official investigation highlighted the failure of a single O-ring seal on the right solid rocket booster of the Space Shuttle Challenger, to be the most likely explanation for its complete destruction during the second minute of the orbiter's tenth mission, on January 28, 1986. The accident resulted in the death of all seven crew members and a two-and-a-half year grounding of the entire shuttle fleet.

An extreme example perhaps, but one which clearly demonstrates how a single component can be responsible for total product failure and complete loss of confidence in an entire product line.

For manufacturers, the inclusion of a weak component in a design can spell disaster both financially and from the perspective of brand reputation. Some high profile product recalls can cost millions. The Toyota recall early in 2010 saw, in Britain alone, more than 180,000 cars withdrawn from the roads due to a faulty accelerator pedal. And any consumer will recognize the frustration caused by: that single malfunctioning button on a mobile phone or TV remote; that knob that just keeps falling off; that top that no longer fits; that bit that sticks out and catches; or, the widget that just won't work!

Test, Test, Test!

To avoid product failure manufacturers must ensure their goods meet the highest standards from the outset. To do this, they must test both the parts they use to create their products, and the final product itself.

The increasing variety of manufactured goods, and diversity in the materials used to produce them, demands an ever wider selection of materials testing solutions. By introducing robotic materials testing with built-in application flexibility these time intensive processes can be automated, producing more robust results while optimizing costs in both time and money; a win-win situation for both manufacturers and consumers.

So manufacturers must test, test, test and manufacturers of test equipment, like the Zwick Roell Group, must make sure that materials testing is both straight-forward and cost effective.

Robotic Testing Boosts Efficiency

Robotic testing systems typically include a testing machine, grips, a load cell and robotics controlled via a computer with an appropriate software package. Robotic testing is particularly suited to situations requiring large testing capacities and can be installed as either a complete system, or by automating existing manual equipment with a robotic extension.

Robotic testing systems have multiple benefits:

  • Require extremely low operator effort
  • Push button and go operation
  • High capacity
  • Able to operate 24 hours per day
  • High standard of repeatability
  • Enables redeployment of skilled human labour
  • Built-in computerized control and data management

Additional costs incurred by installing a robotic system are generally recouped within two to three years.

Zwick Roell Group Adds Value

As the world leader in the field of automated material and component testing the Zwick Roell Group offers additional benefits with its robotic testing systems:

  • Flexible, reconfigurable specimen magazine and grips
    • Multiple specimen dimensions and shapes such as shoulder, strip, or profiles
    • Rapid change over between set ups
  • Robots can be parked to enable manual operation for special tests
  • Integrated testXpert® II software supervised by the automation module autoEdition2
    • User-friendly interface for easy operation
    • Familiar Windows platform
    • Easy import/export for quality reporting and certificates
    • Compatible with most existing IT-infrastructures
  • TestXpert® II software handles multi-function testing for full scalability
    • Additional components limited only by the capacity of the PC
    • Extendable test type capabilities e.g. add flexure testing to tensile testing
    • Increase throughput by adding more than one of the same test
  • Fully customizable and industry specific systems available
    • Ensure regulatory compatibility
    • Match your system to your needs
  • Remote maintenance and support
    • Highly secure internet connectivity
    • Real-time communication
    • Rapid diagnosis and solution implementation

Conclusion

Robotic testing systems optimize the efficiency of materials testing in manufacturing processes for high throughput quality control. When selecting a robotic testing system, purchasers should consider hardware flexibility and scalability, software compatibility, and ease of integration. Robotic systems can be both stand-alone or extensions of legacy equipment, and industry specific testing solutions can be either bought off-the-shelf or customized. Added value can be found in the form of regulatory compliance and remote support and maintenance from reputed material testing equipment manufacturers such as the Zwick Roell Group.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Zwick.

For more information on this source, please visit Zwick.

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