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In spring 2017, Flex Hex company was spun out of the European innovation project, ReconCell, in which Blue Ocean Robotics is a central partner in go-to-market activities. The Hexapod system offered by Flex Hex has been developed to enable a faster production changeover. Hexapod enables an implementation of more cost-effective operational robotics in small, medium and large production companies.
Production lines lack flexibility
Manufacturers have limited abilities to quickly switch between production batches because adjusting the production line, jigs and fixtures can be a time-consuming and costly process. Fixed assembly technology lacks flexibility necessary for quick and smooth production changeover. Storing the dedicated fixtures and platforms also means additional costs for production companies. There is a clear need for an alternative to dedicated jigs and fixtures in order to make the production and assembly processes more flexible. The industrial automation increases efficiency and cost-effectiveness of production by creating more flexible production environment where machinery can be easily adjusted to the production batch.
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Flex Hex is bringing the Hexapod system to the market, a flexible positioning system and an alternative to the dedicated jigs and fixtures in production. The company was born out of ReconCell R&D project in April 2017. Blue Ocean Robotics and its partner Jožef Stefan Institute recognized the market need for flexible fixture system and initiated the Flex Hex company responsible for bringing Hexapod to the industrial market.
The Hexapod system is an embodiment of the Industry 4.0 principles. It is a flexible and precise solution for all industries dealing with production – from automatic to railway and aerospace industry. The Hexapod system can be also applied in welding processes. It is also a good solution for SMEs as it enables the fast change in the production lines for small batches. It does not need an operator – the robotics arms already used in the production can safely position and fix the Hexapod. It saves time and money on designing new solutions and fixtures for every new product. The Hexapod is already available in two versions, adapted to bear a payload of 10 kg or 50 kg. Test of the Hexapod system in real-life manufacturing setups showed that in most cases, the manufacturers can obtain an 80% faster changeover to other production series and avoid costs of storing the dedicated fixtures. By introducing flexible fixture to the production process, a company producing headlights for automotive industry can increase production by 50.000 pieces per working cell on a yearly basis.
The prospects for the future
Manufacturers have to keep pace with the rapidly advancing technology to stay competitive and optimize their production process. Investment in industrial automation can help the manufacturers to stay relevant on the market.
Since the concept of Industry 4.0has become well known, mainly in the car production industry, there is a high demand for innovative and adaptive robotics solutions in the development of the so-called smart factories. The Hexapod system provided by Flex Hex is a precise answer to the industry needs.
Laurent MarquisCEO of Flex Hex
Currently, Flex Hex is establishing new partnerships with sales representatives around the world. The company is also developing relationships with universities and research institutes involved in testing the solutions for Industry 4.0 in order to further develop the Hexapod system.