Industry solutions

Weiss Robotics from Ludwigsburg manufactures sensitive grippers for powerful industrial robots. The grippers are electrically controlled and can therefore move particularly fragile objects. This is unique in the industry.

Small robots work away behind a glass wall. The robots grip, lift and place various objects with the utmost precision. One of them simultaneously picks up four filled glasses and places them in a container one meter away. Then the robot turns and picks up four more jars. Another places very small screws from one plate onto another. Almost none of this can be heard. Die fleißigen Roboter summen in angenehmer Lautstärke in der Eingangshalle von Weiss Robotics vor sich hin. Until now, industrial robots have mainly used compressed air to grip. The grippers from Weiss Robotics are controlled electrically instead - a considerable added value for industrial companies.

 

Electric grippers with feeling

Weiss Robotics GmbH & Co. KG from Ludwigsburg manufactures grippers for industrial robots and cobots. Cobots are robots that work together with humans and, compared to industrial robots, can perform even smaller tasks automatically. For example, they can remove bread rolls from the oven in a bakery and sort them onto a shelf. The electric grippers from Weiss Robotics make it possible to move delicate objects such as young lettuce plants, raw eggs and fragile glasses from A to B with sensitivity - quickly and precisely, without damaging them. "We see gripping as the sensitive, tactile handling of objects that are not really stable," says Managing Director Dr. Karsten Weiß. Compressed air grippers, which have so far mainly been used in industry, lack the necessary sensitivity for this.

 

Evaluate images and transfer data

A lot of data provides this feeling.This includes camera images, which are viewed, evaluated and transferred to the gripper.With further information on the nature of the material and the size and weight of the objects, the grippers understand how much force they need to apply to which object.How far the grippers spread their gripping fingers also depends on the data fed in.Weiss Robotics offers its intelligent grippers in 16 variants.They all combine mechanical with sensitive, almost human characteristics - a benefit for industry and its automation.

 

Grippers in use in New York

One of the world's most renowned universities has long since recognized this:Columbia University in New York is researching the automation of tomorrow with special grippers from Weiss Robotics.Scientists at Columbia are currently using the grippers in a research project to grip textiles.The aim of the project is to train gripping with fabrics such as cotton in order to fold T-shirts and pants automatically.If this is successful, electric grippers could soon be providing support in hospitals or dry cleaners.The fact that the grippers are being used in research in New York is an accolade for Managing Director Weiß and his company.

 

At home in the Stuttgart region

Weiss Robotics has strong roots in the Stuttgart region, as many customers come from the surrounding area: "We are a small company and are strongly focused on the domestic market.We have a clear locational advantage here in the region because we can reach our customers very quickly," says Weiß.The smart grippers are used in industries where automation is a top priority.These include companies in the automotive, electrical and pharmaceutical industries.As the grippers can be connected to all well-known manufacturers of industrial robots and cobots, they are in high demand.Managing Director Weiß therefore always has to weigh up which orders are feasible for his team.

 

Centerpiece: development and production

"We are lucky and are in a growth market.Automation and manufacturing are becoming increasingly important in Germany," says Managing Director Weiß, who won a lifelong sponsorship from Bosch as a 14-year-old in a young talent competition and was allowed to use the supplier's workbenches and tools for his tinkering completely free of charge.At the same time as graduating from high school, Weiß won the national "Jugend forscht" competition in 1998, and his grippers have been on the market since 2015.Today, around 20 people work in his team.Development and production are at the heart of the company.In a small hall, employees are constantly milling, grinding and wiring the special aluminum grippers.

 

Successfully into the future

The business situation is good: "The demand for our gripping systems is unbroken.Automation is becoming more demanding, partly because the industry's requirements for highly sensitive materials are becoming more stringent," says Weiß.This is why the company is also looking to expand in the Stuttgart region.The Ludwigsburg-based company recently recorded double-digit annual growth.Sensitive grippers will also be needed in the future when fuel cells and batteries are assembled and disassembled in rows.Until then, the robots in the entrance area of Weiss Robotics will continue to hum and work diligently - screw by screw, glass by glass.

 

JK
Wirtschaftsförderung Region Stuttgart GmbH
https://www.region-stuttgart.de/news/starke-roboter-lernen-weiches-greifen/

Automatica in Munich recorded around 40,000 visitors this year. And many of these visitors were also at Weiss Robotics. True to the motto “Smart Grippers. Simply integrate,” the Ludwigsburg company showed innovative gripping modules and system concepts for intelligent automation. The central technology was GRIPLINK, a "link" via which servo-electric grippers and other tools can be integrated or replaced quickly and without great programming effort.

"Automatica was very successful for us this year," says Dr. Karsten Weiss, CEO of Weiss Robotics. "It's simply the ideal platform to present innovations and new trends to the industry and to receive important feedback from customers." With its Smart Gripper stand concept. Easy to integrate, the Ludwigsburg-based company addressed an important topic in the industry: namely the easy integration of servo-electric grippers.

"Our exhibits, such as the new universal gripper WPG 300-120 with a 120 mm stroke and 300 N gripping force and direct cloud connection, were very well received," says Sales and Marketing Manager Sascha Wittig. "Our stand was actually always very well attended," sums up Sascha Wittig "and we are very much looking forward to deepening our customers' inquiries outside of the trade fair."

 

Delia has been working at WEISS ROBOTICS since 2008. "I came across the position quite by accident through an ad on Facebook," she remembers. She is actually a trained vehicle painter. On her Instagram account "alfa.delisches" she shares pictures of really cool painted car bodies - her "works of art". At WEISS Robotics, she now assembles servo-electric gripper modules full-time. “I immediately liked the fact that the products are so filigree in structure, but very robust when finished. It also gives me a real kick when I can troubleshoot a repair job and eventually find and fix the problem!” Delia also describes herself privately as a "screwdriver". "For example, I like to build Lego with my kids," says the mother of two. Above all, what she finds smart about her colleagues is that they value mutual trust, collegiality and good communication more than bureaucratic processes. “We help each other and stick together. Our boss also sets an example."

In May, Weiss Robotics presented a wide range of smart grippers at the "All About Automation" in Heilbronn.In addition to the new IEG Plus series for handling, the smart plug and play gripper WPG 300-120 was also presented.And, of course, visitors to the stand could find out how easy it is to integrate servo-electric grippers with GRIPLINK. With 147 exhibitors and 1,447 visitors, the trade fair, which was only held for the second time in Heilbronn, was well attended. "The "All About Automation" is the ideal platform for us to exchange ideas with our existing and new customers," explained Sascha Wittig, Head of Sales and Marketing at Weiss Robotics. "Very often, they come to our stand directly with their problem." Weiss Robotics has set up a special area for this. Weiss Robotics will also be present at the “All About Automation” in Chemnitz. This will take place from September 27th to September 28th, 2023.

In the heart of New York City, the research group led by Prof. Shuran Song at Columbia University, one of the world's most important universities, is working with gripper modules from Weiss Robotics.

The university combines research and teaching at its location with the enormous resources of the big city with the aim of attracting a diverse and international faculty, staff and student body, supporting research and teaching on global issues and establishing academic relationships with many countries and regions. And so the contacts from New York extend to Ludwigsburg in Swabia.

The "DextAIRity" research project at the Columbia Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Lab (CAIR) aims to use robots to handle various textile materials. For this purpose, a cobot from Universal Robots was equipped with the WSG 50 gripper module from Weiss Robotics. The universal servo gripper with a stroke of 110 mm and a gripping force of 80 N can be flexibly controlled and is therefore particularly suitable for sensitive handling of limp fiber materials. "The WSG 50 can be controlled directly from a PC via the integrated Ethernet interface - an important feature for our project," explains Cheng Chi, software developer at CAIR.

Dr. Karsten Weiß, Managing Director of Weiss Robotics, and Sales and Marketing Manager Sascha Wittig are using their stay in New York on the occasion of Interphex 2023 to make a short detour to the Data Science Institute to find out more about the research project. "We are very impressed by the work of Prof. Shuran Song and her team," says Dr. Karsten Weiß about the visit. “We are very happy when our technologies are used in research projects. This underlines the enormous flexibility of our products.”

 

Interphex is a major international trade fair and conference that brings together around 8,000 trade visitors from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries  at the Javits Center in New York City. The focus of the fair is on the development, production, packaging and distribution of pharmaceutical products. 450 exhibitors showed their latest developments. Together with STÄUBLI Robotics, Weiss Robotics presented its STERIGRIP 200 aseptic gripper for the new STERICLEAN+ hollow-wrist robot. This validated solution was specially developed for use in ultra-clean aseptic applications and, with the GMP Class A cleanliness certification, also meets the highest requirements of the pharmaceutical industry. With the integrated media routing from the robot foot to the gripper module and consistently pharmaceutical-grade materials, the solution on display represents a new benchmark in terms of hygienic design and is therefore particularly suitable for highly demanding applications in the fill/finish area of gene therapy products. "We were able to make many important contacts for ourselves and received consistently positive feedback on our STERIGRIP series," says Dr. Karsten Weiss. "Interphex offers an excellent framework for technical discussions with industry experts from the pharmaceutical and biotech industries".

The "All About Automation" in Friedrichshafen recorded 35 percent more visitors than in the previous year and the Weiss Robotics team also noticed that. "We haven't had any breaks in the last two days," says Sales and Marketing Manager Sascha Wittig. "And that was a good thing, because we were able to help many customers with their specific questions."

They came directly to the stand with their components in order to discuss solutions in the “handicraft corner” provided especially for this purpose.

GRIPLINK, the link for servo-electric grippers

Many of the visitors were enthusiastic about the GRIPLINK technology. “Many people like the idea of having less integration effort for grippers and tools thanks to smart technology. "Servo-electric grippers are often more sensitive, flexible and efficient to use than conventional models," says Sascha Wittig. But the CLG 30-006, one of the world's smallest servo-electric gripper modules, also aroused interest. It has an IO-Link interface and is particularly suitable for handling very delicate components such as those found in the electronics industry.

WPG 300-120 Ultra flexible and with cloud connection

For the trade fair presentation, a Denso robot was equipped with the ultra-flexible WPG 300-120 gripper, which has a gripping force of over 300 N and can be connected directly to the cloud.

"The regional concept of the fair suits us very well," says Sascha Wittig. "With this in mind, we are already looking forward to the next "All About Automation" in Heilbronn on May 10th and 11th, 2023.

Energy efficiency and flexibility play a major role in today's production landscape of German mechanical engineering and this means that easy integration is becoming increasingly important. Pneumatic gripping modules, while still very inexpensive, are also limited in their application. Changing the component to be produced can therefore quickly mean time-consuming retooling. Servo-electric gripping systems are much more flexible here, but have so far required more integration. That changes with GRIPLINK. Because this technology serves as a real bridge between the robot and the component and a significantly shorter programming and changeover time.

We therefore recommend our customers to use pneumatic gripping systems wherever simple gripping tasks need to be solved. Thanks to GRIPLINK, servo-electric grippers can be used wherever you want to save energy and have to react flexibly to product cycles.

Andrey Domnyshev is a development engineer at Weiss Robotics

 

Andrey Domnyshev is a development engineer and has been working at WEISS Robotics since May last year. Originally, he had only planned to write his thesis. Then he signed on as a working student and finally he stayed. "I was fascinated by the complexity of gripper technology," he says.

Andrey Domnyshev originally comes from southern Siberia and studied “Automation” in Cologne and graduated with a master's degree.

“What I like about WEISS Robotics is that you can try things out. During my final thesis, I developed my own electric gripper, which I was then allowed to manufacture myself. Big companies don't offer you that!” Andrey Domnyshev also appreciates the family atmosphere in the company.

"It's nice to have helpful colleagues and a boss who takes time for you. I'm sure I can still learn a lot here in the future and make my contribution to the company's success!"

There were a lot of things we couldn't do during the Corona pandemic, but some things we were really good at. For example, we were able to work very intensively on our product developments.

The CLG 30-006 was developed during this time and now complements our product portfolio with a real specialist for handling small parts.

Feeding dermatological samples into a microscope used to be a laborious manual process that required a certain amount of finesse. This process can be automated with smart grippers, as our application example shows.

 

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