SMB Seng Heng Engineering chose Universal Robots to improve its production output


Editor’s brief: The COVID event worldwide has certainly caused major ripples across diverse industries. Some had to fold despite having been around a long time. However, some managed to transform and survived. One such example is Singapore-based Seng Heng Engineering, which chose to automate to improve its production output. Seng Heng Engineering chose Universal Robots’ cobots and managed to improve its production output by 50% within 3 months. Read more below.

SINGAPORE – By successfully deploying two cobots in the production line, Universal Robots (UR), the global leader in the rapidly growing market of collaborative robots (cobots), has enabled business continuity and improved production output for Singaporean manufacturer Seng Heng Engineering during disruptive periods.

Pandemic causing massive labour shortages

The manufacturing sector is facing new difficulties as a result of the global pandemic. Ground operations in the Asia–Pacific region came to a halt due to the closure of borders, the closing of factories, and the restriction of movement. Manufacturers were not only confronted with the unattractive prospect of closing down facilities, but also with massive labor shortages ever since the pandemic began. Due to these difficulties, manufacturers are increasingly turning to automation and robots to guarantee their survival. It has been reported that Asia is still the largest industrial robot market in the world. This is especially true in the Asia-Pacific region. The total number of units shipped in 2021 was 354,500, an increase of 33% from the previous year, as reported by the International Federation of Robotics.

Challenges faced by Seng Heng Engineering

For fasteners, turnkey machining, and corrosion-resistant coatings, look no further than Seng Heng Engineering, a third-generation manufacturer in Singapore with 70 years of experience.

Seng Heng Engineering experienced unprecedented difficulties maintaining a stable workforce throughout the course of the pandemic. Because of this, they began thinking about automating some tasks in order to remove the bottlenecks in production brought on by a lack of qualified workers and the associated uncertainty.

Onshore, offshore, and subsea safety oil and gas equipment is fastened together with the help of Seng Heng Engineering’s bespoke connectors, such as high-quality bolts and nuts. It is possible to track each individual fastener back to its source thanks to the part numbers, materials, and serial numbers that are laser etched into each one. Due to a lack of available labor, the engraving process has become increasingly inefficient. Seng Heng Engineering is trusted by regional industries and the supply chain because it is one of the few fastener companies in Southeast Asia to be certified by the American Petroleum Institute (API) to produce critical bolting for the oil and gas industry.

Successful deployment at Seng Heng Engineering

In light of the importance the manufacturer places on worker protection, cobots have emerged as a practical option. As opposed to human workers, cobots don’t need to be encased in protective barriers to do their jobs (upon risk assessment). Fasteners were previously loaded and unloaded into CNC machines by hand. Thus, the use of cobots frees up human workers from the monotonous tasks that can take up to five minutes for each fastener.

“Initially, our employees were skeptical about deploying cobots in the production line, with the fear that cobots may take over their jobs eventually. Now, our employees have fully understood that cobots are relieving them from monotonous tasks so that they can work on tasks that require their cognitive skills. Even employees with no background in programming are capable of operating a cobot. In a short period of three months, we have seen significant achievements thanks to the successful deployment of cobots,” said Jackie.

Dedicated engineering support from Aubotic

Aubotic, a certified system integrator, has provided Seng Heng Engineering with excellent engineering support and made it simple to deploy new systems. Seng Heng Engineering saw a 50% boost in productivity and efficiency on the production line after implementing two UR10e cobots with UR+ certified Onrobot electric grippers as end effectors to help with the CNC and engraving machines.

The use of cobots has allowed the company to greatly expand its order intake within a relatively short time frame (three to five days). As a result of these strict social distancing measures, Seng Heng Engineering, which previously only had one shift, has added a second shift for the CNC section. Thanks to the cobot’s ability to supplement the night shift’s reduced manpower, second-shift operations can continue as usual, and the business reaps the benefits of the night shift’s absence by avoiding any potential bottlenecks. As a result of using cobots, orders can be fulfilled with minimal downtime and speed.

“We have witnessed a significant increase in productivity and efficiency after the implementation of two UR10e cobots to automate the CNC and engraving processes. In addition, the cobots are capable of working around the clock in tandem with our employees, relieving them from working on dull and monotonous tasks,” says Jackie Lau, Managing Director, Seng Heng Engineering.

Seng Heng Engineering is planning to increase its use of cobots in the near future as it views automation as a key enabler of an intelligent workforce and efficient throughput.