Attabotics, Inc. from Calgary in Canada was launched onto the market in 2016 with the goal of developing and building robotic 3D storage. The main customers for the efficient and space-saving storage solutions are companies from the ever-expanding e-commerce sector. Attabotics has over 200 employees, who have developed an innovative and space-saving storage system. Their in-house manufacturing includes a fleet of ten machining centers from DMG MORI, including two DMU 50 3rd Generation. Like the robotic storage solutions, Attabotics relies on intelligent and economical solutions for manufacturing, which is why the 5-axis machines have been automated with WH 6 Cell workpiece handling.
The growth in online commerce in recent years has led to a growing demand for intelligent storage solutions that can manage large order volumes quickly and efficiently. Based on these requirements, Attabotics has developed patented products and solutions that offer high density storage and work with extremely fast robots. “Our threedimensional storage systems reduce space requirements by up to 85 percent,” explains Scott Gravelle, CEO Attabotics. “Our solutions are also freely scalable, which means that the storage capacity and flow of goods can be adapted to growing requirements at any time.” Attabotics is thus able to guarantee consistently high productivity for storage logistics.
Incoming goods and order management takes place fully automatically inside the 3D warehouse. Fast robots deliver orders in an efficient sequence, sort the goods and transport them reliably to the respective workstation. According to Scott Gravelle, “Fast installation and commissioning are possible and the system can also be expanded during running operations.” Nordstrom, a US American e-commerce clothing company, is already using a 3D storage system from Attabotics to reduce its warehouse space, save real estate costs and accelerate logistics. “E-commerce companies like these are the ideal user as they almost exclusively need to transport smaller sized goods.”
The productivity that Attabotics guarantees for storage logistics is also needed by the company for its own manufacturing to ensure it remains competitive. Automation solutions that can handle increasing capacity are in demand. “Because we don’t have sufficient capacity to automate our own production, which in any case is not our core expertize, we needed an experienced partner in this area,” recalls John Hickman, Vice President Manufacturing. They found the right partner in DMG MORI and installed two DMU 50 3rd Generation machines with WH 6 Cell workpiece handling.
Amongst other things, Attabotics manufactures aluminum base columns on the two DMU 50 3rd Generation machines for supporting the framework of the 3D storage systems. “We always need large numbers of these parts,” says John Hickman. “We needed to automate this manufacturing process, including workpiece handling, to be able to meet the high demand especially when production is at full capacity.” WH 6 Cell workpiece handling is perfectly designed for this. The robots move components with a workpiece weight of up to 6 kg and dimensions of 300 × 280 × 50 mm. 15 workpiece carriers are included.
Very precise machining is required, as the base columns are also responsible for aligning the customer’s entire storage system horizontally. “This was one of the requirements of the DMU 50 3rd Generation,” says John Hickman looking back at the acquisition. Smaller components for the AttabotTM are also produced on the 5-axis machine. “Efficient machining of complex geometries with accuracies of up to 5 μm was a further requirement – both for stainless steel as well as aluminum workpieces.” The machining flexibility of the DMU 50 3rd Generation was a decisive factor.
The automated loading and unloading of the DMU 50 3rd Generation achieves high production capacity and more manufacturing flexibility. “We want to manufacture as many of our components as possible in-house, but at the same time we want to invest in research and development,” says Scott Gravelle, outlining the challenge. Automated manufacturing offers this flexibility. “Particularly when it comes to the development of new products, we can perfectly draw on the expertize of our CNC team.”
Automated production is one of the factors that enables Attabotics to offer a vertically oriented and comprehensive range of services, Scott Gravelle emphasizes: “They include research and development, design and actual production including CNC machining, robotic assembly and testing of the products.” Installation and commissioning of the 3D storage system at the customer’s site rounds off the offer. Attabotics thus supplies everything from a single source, which also applies to DMG MORI in the area of automated manufacturing.
In addition to the six storage solutions installed in North America so far, other companies from a range of industries are testing Attabotics’ 3D storage platform. Scott Gravelle looks ahead optimistically: “As we are also able to cool our 3D storage, the system is also applicable to the food industry.” Deep-freeze solutions with end-to-end cooling are also under development. “This means the signs are good that we will soon be able to drastically increase our production output.” Existing production could be expanded by WH 6 workpiece handling in the future to achieve this: “Automated 5-axis machining centers such as the DMU 50 3rd Generation or the compact DMP 70 could also ensure efficient manufacturing in this area.”
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