Stefan Erbe, Lev Löwen, Michael Wernz and Stefan Berlinghof are rich in ideas, technically talented and all between 20 and 25 years of age. The four Freudenberg Group students are designing parts for an innovative robot, rapidly putting together combinations of mechanical seals made by Freudenberg Sealing Technologies (FST). The robot is still a prototype and will be further tested and improved.
Initially, the four students closely observed the production of seals to get an accurate picture of the production process. “The employees assemble the individual parts of the seals by hand, which is a strenuous and time-consuming process. That is why we wanted to construct a robot that could support it”, explained Wernz. “Whenever we were in production area, people kept asking us when the ‘miracle machine’ would be ready.”
The students worked on the project in the company’s training center. The biggest challenge was finding the correct position of the individual parts for the seals. “The robot needs to be reliable and efficient. That is why we chose a mechanical solution and made everything ourselves”, said Berlinghof. “We could never have done it alone. The project was complex and time was short. With the help of the trainers, we have been able to master the challenge.”
The path to achieving their goal involved millimeter-accurate measurement and detailed planning. Löwen and Wernz programmed the robot while Berlinghof and Erbe brought with them knowledge of assembly and machining techniques. “It was really important that every one was able to contribute subject-specific knowledge to the task. Otherwise, we would not have been able to realize the project”, Löwen explained.
From planning to construction, the young men worked on the project for around 150 hours. “The idea is that people from different disciplines and Business Groups work together on a project and thus create synergies”, commented Stefanie Tilger, who was responsible for steering the project at the training center. “The robot has potential: the project has been a success”, said Bernhard Eberle, Lean Manager at FST.