CASE STUDY

The world’s largest producer of marine accessories deploys multiple brands of robots with Forge/OS – increasing output and efficiency to keep production in the USA.

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The Business

Atwood Marine is the world’s largest producer of marine accessories. For more than 100 years, Attwood has been the unquestioned award-winning leader in design, development, testing, and manufacturing of the highest quality boat parts and accessories for the marine industry.

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The Challenge

As competitors moved manufacturing overseas, Atwood was struggling to stay cost competitive. They were determined to keep production and jobs in the US, but their high-mix low-volume manufacturing made robotic automation expensive and difficult to justify – especially since they had no automation experience. They sought a future-proof solution that would allow them to reduce manufacturing costs and keep manufacturing in the US.

The Solution

Attwood chose to build their automation around Forge/OS – as this programming platform could support the cobots they’d deploy out of the gate, as well as the industrial arms they might need in the future. Forge/OS presented a user-friendly programming environment that would allow them to program their own automation and robotics tasks – despite their lack of automation experience. The user-friendly programming interface (Task Canvas) would provide their machine operators with a tool they could comfortably learn to operate.

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The high changeover nature of our applications makes Forge the perfect fit. No two tasks are exactly the same, but the ease of writing and editing tasks in Task Canvas allows us to automate tasks we previously thought were too complicated or specialized to automate.

Joshua Phipps, Test Lab Technician
Attwood Marine

Attwood began automating production with a mobile robotic solution powered by Forge/OS. It featured a cobot from Universal Robots fitted with a 2-finger Schunk gripper mounted to a mobile base. It enabled them to implement collaborative automation in their domestic manufacturing facilities – bringing down costs, increasing competitiveness, and keeping their manufacturing in the US.

Two years after automating various production tasks with their Forge/OS-powered mobile cobot system, Attwood was ready to automate product testing. The new application would require more payload than their UR cobot could offer. They also wanted to test at speeds that exceeded the capabilities of their cobot. They needed an industrial arm. The brand agnostic nature of Forge/OS enabled them to choose the right robot for this new task – without brand constraints. Attwood chose a FANUC R-2000iB powered by Forge/OS. Adding a new robot brand to their production floor was seamless due to Forge/OS’s brand-agnostic operating system and programming platform. And, for about the same cost as a small collaborative robot, Attwood was able to add an industrial arm with significantly more payload, reach, and speed.

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The Results

Short Term: Forge/OS-Powered Mobile Robotic Solution

The flexibility of their Forge/OS-powered mobile robotic system (like those offered by READY partners Futura Automation, FINCH Automation, and Accufacture) enabled Attwood to quickly deploy automation, improving production efficiency across multiple workstations, and across a wide range of parts. The form factor enabled the mobile robotic solution to be easily moved between workcells as projects demanded, but the programming environment of Forge/OS was the real game changer. Forge/OS’s No Code programming environment allowed Attwood to quickly program for new parts and manage change over – both of which are critical in their high-mix low-volume environment. Programming was not a barrier, nor was it a timesink. 

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The simplicity that Forge/OS brings to robotics, allows tasks that may have been too complicated or costly to automate before, to be quickly and easily automated.

Joshua Phipps, Test Lab Technician
Attwood Marine

Forge/OS also enabled machine operators and other members of their production team with zero automation experience to operate robots and automation equipment. They were not dependent on a single “expert” to unlock productivity gains with their Forge/OS-powered robotic solution. Attwood Marine was able to spread ROI across many different product lines, and more rapidly achieve ROI. Equally important, the intuitive programming environment of Forge/OS enabled Attwood’s team to program for new tasks, update for new parts, start and stop cycles, and recover the system. With Forge/OS they owned their automation journey.

Long-Term: Forge/OS-Powered FANUC Industrial Arms 

Although the No Code programming environment of their Forge/Station unlocked automation for Attwood – the true power of Forge/OS became apparent when they were ready to add an industrial arm to their production floor. New product testing required payload and speed that exceeded the capabilities of their collaborative system. Having standardized on Forge/OS, stepping up from a UR cobot to a FANUC industrial arm was a seamless transition.

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“Going from UR to FANUC was a seamless transition with Forge/OS. The programming experience is exactly the same.”

Joshua Phipps, Test Lab Technician
Attwood Marine

Forge/OS enabled Attwood to choose the right arm for their new application with no limitations to brand. Attwood chose a FANUC R-2000iB, an industrial arm with a 100kg payload. Tasks programmed on their cobot were ported over to their new industrial arm and touched up – reducing programming time significantly. Once a few waypoints were updated, they were off and running. Programming new tasks was painless for their team, as the Task Canvas programming interface didn’t change at all from collaborative UR to industrial FANUC.

Attwood has since added another FANUC R-2000iB powered by Forge/OS.

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“In our CNC production department, we’ve seen a 50% reduction in labor costs associated with manufacturing products.”

Joe Polasek, Manufacturing Technology Engineer
Attwood Marine

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The simplicity that Forge/OS brings to robotics, allows tasks that may have been too complicated or costly to automate before, to be quickly and easily automated.

Joshua PhippsTest Lab TechnicianAttwood Marine