Since its introduction in the early 80's, offline programming software (OLP) has evolved release after release and year after year. The onset of powerful computers with faster graphics and more memory, new CAD technologies, simulation techniques, and algorithms have pushed the development of OLP forward. As the robots are programmed in a computer environment without disturbing the production process, OLP reduces production stops and costs. This has made it the preferable choice for programming robots for manufacturing companies. Industry mega trends, Industry 4.0 and Smart Factories are paving the way for digital offline programming.
However, about two decades ago the scenario was completely different. There was no compelling need for offline programming; robots were used for high volume production where the need for programming changes was relatively small. OLP software was expensive and running on expensive Unix computers. Only automotive and aerospace industries could afford such expensive technologies. On the other hand, the software was also cumbersome to use, and skepticism against the new technology was prevalent. Standing against the odds, Delfoi was passionate about bringing OLP to the market to save time and costs on the shop floor.
Gradually, with the evolution of production processes from large scale production to small scale and one-kind of production, the concept of OLP started picking up pace. Further, Industry 4.0, Digital Twin and Smart Factories have fueled this trend. Being the pioneer in this paradigm, even before OLP was deemed acceptable, today Delfoi, is the worldwide leader in offering OLP and simulation products that enable manufacturers to automatize small batch production and speed up their new product introduction (NPI) process.
Today, numerous clients use Delfoi’s OLP products to eliminate programming from production, cut the programming downtime from weeks to a single day, and expand the use of robots to traditionally manual jobs. “With Delfoi’s OLP solutions even the traditional job shops, the subcontractor industry and structural steel fabrication industry can gain the efficiency of the robotics used in automotive industry. You don’t have to manufacture your products in low cost countries. Cost of automation is the same in China as in the United States. You just have to keep the utilization rate of your automation investments high by minimizing the programming of the robots on the shop floor,” explains Heikki Aalto, EVP of Delfoi.
Providing OLP—From Welding to Painting
The Delfoi Robotics software range includes software for many different areas in almost all industrial robotics applications and guarantees leading solutions to meet the needs of every company. The software is generically enabling program generation for the major robot brands. Clients can generate native robot code for robots from a wide range of vendors including ABB, Fanuc, IGM, Kawasaki, KUKA, Motoman, OTC Daihen, and Panasonic.
The disjunctive factor of intuitive software is automated, very fast programming. The intelligent algorithms of the software automatically detect CAD features and minimize manual programming routines. With only one mouse click the software can generate a robot program with hundreds of program rows.
With Delfoi’s products and services companies can plan, execute and manage their manufacturing and delivery processes, leading to shorter time-to-market and lead times, faster ramp-up, less inventory, and better delivery accuracy
The product portfolio includes Delfoi ARC for arc and laser welding as well as for plasma and laser cutting. Delfoi CUT is a software designed for offline programming of robots performing 3D mechanical cutting, deburring and finishing operations. Delfoi PAINT is an application for programming of painting and contouring robots.
Raimo Puro, CEO
Courtesy of Volvo Construction Equipment
Interestingly, Delfoi also works closely with robot vendors such as OTC Daihen, ABB, KUKA, Fanuc, Yaskawa, and others who can deliver Delfoi OLP products in case their customer's back-end systems are slow and cumbersome to use. “We bring automation to programming. This is why the software is used increasingly in industries where traditional manual operations have been replaced with robots–the structural steel industry is a good example,” remarks Aalto.
Defining the Future of Robotics with New Innovations
With well over two decades of experience, Delfoi has well-developed programming expertise that includes universal support for application and robot models, ensuring high-quality solutions for each company. Delfoi has over 400 customers who keep their production robots in effective use and program them outside of the production process using Delfoi Robotics solutions. One such client is Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE), a leading manufacturer of construction equipment, who is on a mission to introduce a new type of robotization for welding. So-called jigless welding is an innovative concept for welding at Volvo Construction Equipment. In its pilot project, Volvo CE will be utilizing Delfoi Robotics OLP along with its robot cell. The pilot project will focus on manufacturing components for Volvo's dumpers in its Braås facility. “We have developed a flexible solution that is able to use the same equipment for many different items. We will work with the jigless robot cell and use the Delfoi Robotics offline programming system,” says Dr. Erik Åstrand, specialist in welding optimization at Volvo Construction Equipment.
Besides Delfoi Robotics software product segment, Delfoi also offers innovative software for “Smart Factories.” Delfoi Planner 4.0 is a web and cloud-based advanced production planning, scheduling, and control solution for manufacturing customers. "Delfoi Planner complements our Industry 4.0 solutions on a factory level and its open REST-API enables integrations to any ERP system, like SAP,” extols Aalto.
In order to exceed customer expectations and offer exceptional solutions, the Delfoi team constantly works towards bringing forth innovative solutions to the robotics market. This is evident with its recently developed algorithms for co-operating robots. The algorithm allows clients to program multiple robots with unique tasks. “We are enabling an environment where multiple robots are working synchronously in a coordinative fashion with each other to fulfill a given task,” says Aalto. Under this model, Delfoi is also focusing on a type of welding where for example a big robot handles a frame of an SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) while small robots carry out the welding process. Similarly, Delfoi is also focusing on automatic path planning for a robot arm, allowing it to go inside narrow areas without collisions and joint violations. From the geographical standpoint, the company is constantly endeavoring to expand its market presence e.g. to parts of the U.S. and China.