Augmenter sa productivité, soutenir sa croissance et relocaliser certaines séries : c’est possible grâce à la cobotique !

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In another article, Alexandre Published, founder and director of Osé, told us how he relied on cobotics and innovative HR practices to attract new welders. He also explained to us how cobotics allowed him to support his growth, gain productivity and compete with Asian prices on small series. You will find the rest of his testimony in this article.

Alexandre Published
Alexandre Published, founder and director of Osé and the O group. (credit: Alexandre Moulard)

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The Osé company (Group O) is an SME specializing in the design and manufacturing of industrial sheet metal.

Alexandre Published is the founder and director.

With its 9 cobots, the company has not only improved the working conditions of its employees, but it has also gained a lot in productivity.

Thanks to cobotics, Osé even manages to reintegrate productions that were relocated to Asia.

Engineering techniques: Since its creation, Osé has shown strong growth. Does cobotics allow you to support this growth?

Alexandre Published: For sure, cobotics helps meet the growth needs of businesses. At Osé, we have four welding cobots and five cobots (UR10e) used for other applications. Since we have had these cobots, we have gained a lot in productivity.

For example, automating the loading/unloading of our press brake allowed us to move to a “3×8” organization, with work in hidden hours and staggered hours. Before cobotics, programming was done via a digital control, which was time-consuming and took up a large part of the bender-adjuster’s day. Today, programming is done directly on the cobot tablet.

To give figures, when we started cobotics 6 years ago, there was a part that took us 4 hours 15 minutes to solder. Today, we weld it in less than 15 minutes!

And in terms of production costs, we have progressed a lot in 6 years. While initially a production rate of 50 pieces was required to start production with the cobot, we are currently launching the cobot for productions of 3 pieces!

It changes a lot of things, because it allows the reintegration of certain small series productions that were made in Asia.

How did you manage to relocate these productions?

Here is an example: we had a client who entrusted us with 80% of his production (laser, bending, welding). We could not produce the remaining 20%, for cost reasons, because the parts were made in Asia. As the client wanted to entrust the entire production to the same subcontractor, we looked for solutions.

The problem concerned our folding machines: at the time we did not have an automatic folding solution. We first tried manual, but given the volume (1,500 to 2,000 pieces), it was not viable.

We then decided to set up a folding cobot. Today we produce 100% of the parts for this customer, at Chinese prices, and we also make money.

For their part, the customer receives their parts in 3 days, compared to 7 to 10 days for Asian production (air freight deliveries). Everyone wins and there are much fewer risks in terms of logistics.

After several years of daily use of cobots, have you noticed other gains in production?

On the economic side, we are seeing a clear reduction in consumables used, thanks to cobotics. For example, we do a lot of sanding and polishing. Since the arrival of cobots, we have divided our consumption of abrasives by 7! For what ? Because the effort applied by the robot is constant, while manually the person will not apply the same force throughout the day or will clog much more abrasives.

And regarding welding, if we consume 30% more contact tips, because the robot repositions itself more often, we save on other accessories, notably diffusers. Where, in manual welding, a person who welds 8 hours a day will consume one diffuser per week, in cobotics it is around one per year!

Then there are all the time savings. The operator saves in particular in packaging and insert assembly time since these operations are carried out in hidden time.

Finally, there is of course all non-financial gainslinked to the comfort of the employee, the elimination of TMS, the flexibility of the cobot, which can be installed wherever the operator needs it, etc.

Despite all these advantages, do you think that there is, in France, a certain reluctance to invest in cobotics?

Unfortunately, this is the case in France, unlike other countries! To give an example, we integrated the Team France Export in order to promote cobotics in countries like Tunisia. Given the low cost of salaries, I was doubtful about the motivation of manufacturers to invest in cobotics. To find out, we took part in a trade show in June 2023. Honestly, we were more than surprised.

We sold more cobots in three days of the show in Tunisia than in a year in France! This is really surprising, because you should know that, in a Maghreb country, it takes 5 years for a cobot to be profitable, working in a 3×8 shift.

On the French market, a cobot is profitable in a year and a half! However, we note that French manufacturers are very reluctant, even suspicious, even though it is in their interest to invest in cobotics as quickly as possible. For certain companies, the risk of losing numerous markets is therefore real!

Why this distrust of cobotics? Is this related to a bad experience people have had with traditional robotics?

Highly possible ! You should know that in France, one in three industrial robots was purchased (often with a significant share of subsidy) without the companies having qualified personnel in-house… Very often, the robots quickly ended their lives in a corner of the workshop or were sold, which doesn’t make much sense.

With cobots, there is no this problem! It is very easy to train a person to use a cobot. On the welding part, for example, one day of training is enough: installation of the robot at 7 a.m., start of training at 9 a.m., first weld at 9:30 a.m. So that at 5 p.m., you have four people trained in the use of a welding cobot and capable of using 80% of the functionalities.

Manufacturers should therefore not be afraid of this tool! For our part, we will continue to focus on cobotics, and we are impatiently awaiting the arrival at the end of the year of the new UR20 cobot, whose higher payload and scale will allow us to work with larger parts. and automate new processes.

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