SmartFeeder. This is the name of the system that applies artificial intelligence to feed and position parts within a manufacturing line. The developer of this innovative solution is the Sabadell-based company GMS Sistemas. This GMS belongs to PMZ Group, which founded Francisco Sanchez 1989 as a supplier of industrial transmission solutions and reducers.
Within the SmartFeeder, parts are deposited on a rotary disc from an autonomous unit. With the combination of a servomotor and an actuator, they are separated and placed in the desired position. When the vision system detects that the position of the pieces is the indicated one, the robot takes care of the collection. The SmartFeeder can feed different product families. In addition, it avoids the blocking of parts and stops that can affect the production of a line. It is also possible to feed different formats, sizes or materials by changing the programming of the system.
"The traditional feeders position the pieces one after the other, and if they are defective they are also inserted into the line", explains the general manager of PMZ Group, Xavier Sánchez. For this reason, with the SmartFeeder it means a "saving", as the robot detects if the piece is not correct and takes it out. The introduction of this new system is costing, as the tendency of companies is to work with traditional positioners, which use vibrators.
The future is robotization
In the first two months of this year, GMS Sistemas has already made the same SmartFeeder offers as during the whole of last year.
"The market has to change", says Sánchez, who affirms: "Robotization is the future if we have to be more qualitative with the product we manufacture". For this reason, the company from Sabadell has opted for innovation through its R&D department, made up of two people who develop the projects.
GMS Sistemas was born in 2000 as a division of PMZ Group. "We focused on sectors that needed high quality and there were none", says Sánchez. In this way, the Sabadellense company has become the leader in food systems in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic sector.
This situation, however, has not always been so peaceful. In 2008 the crisis fell like a slab. The Sabadellense SME was very focused on the automobile sector, one of those that first went into recession. Many projects were stopped. "The best master's degree is when you have to reinvent yourself," says the CEO of PMZ Group.
The survival of the Sabadellense company was possible thanks to the financial engineering they did and in a project that Sanchez got in Germany to work with Volkswagen. From there, they began to design specific solutions for the market such as caps, perfume bottles, ophthalmic flasks ...
It positioned itself as a company that worked with high quality. In addition, the automotive sector only accounted for between 20% and 30% of turnover. This meant that from 2012 to 2015 it grew by an average of 25% a year. "We were dying of success", remembers Sánchez. The number of employees rose from 7 to 18. To avoid falling again, Sanchez decided to reduce growth. Since then, in 2016 it had a turnover of 3.3 million euros and in 2017 it reached 3.75 million euros. Last year's accounts have not yet been closed, but growth is expected to be around 7% or 8%.