Automated robotic production sets new benchmark for respirator safety
Respiratory manufacturer Scott Safety has injected significant investment into the latest robotic technology to eliminate ‘human error’ from its respirator filter production.
Michael Haguinet, product manager EMEA at Scott Safety, said the need to eradicate human mistakes in production is especially critical to particulate filters where errors could mean a matter of life or death to asbestos removers.
“Every single filter is meticulously checked for the minutest defect using an advanced vision system which measures part type and position. The pen is tested using an inline ATI tester penetration level, carbon height and even whether the right lid is placed on the right filter,” said Haguinet.
“The system takes photographs of the filters at multiple points during production and digitally compares them to a flawless filter, instantly rejecting those that show signs of defects. As a result of implementing this versatile form of automation and setting tight criteria for rejection, Scott Safety consistently produces filters that exceed the industry standard for quality.”
As part of the four-year project to bring filter production in-house at Skelmersdale, Scott Safety has recently employed a team of specialists to oversee filter operations on the factory floor. What has historically been a manual assembly process is now a combination of team members and machine.
Haguinet said team members still play a vital role in production, with operators packing the products and carrying out one last quality check before the filters leave the factory.
Following a 50% increase in customer demand for filters in 2015, the manufacturer said its investment in three automated filter lines has now more than doubled its capacity to fulfil orders.
“This significant technological investment supports one of Scott Safety’s corporate pillars of ‘zero defects’ and ensures that rigorous quality and reproducibility is meticulously achieved. As the robots work optimally 24/7 without the need for a break, Scott Safety also delivers unrivalled turnaround in production and delivery of its filters to customers,” added Haguinet.
The company said it is also now looking to recruit a team of process technicians to monitor the robots and ensure optimal output. This is expected to drastically reduce downtime as technicians will spot any mechanical or software issues before they cause production to stop.
Scott Safety is also due to install its own paper-pleating technology for respirator filter production, which will enable the company to manufacture the pleated paper housed inside certain filters.
The Scott product line includes self-contained breathing apparatus, supplied air and air-purifying respirators, PPE, gas detection instruments, thermal imaging cameras and firefighter locators. For further information, go to www.scottsafety.com/emea.
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