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EMKA ensures that KUKA robot technology is secure


Precision-fit closure technology with maximum assembly convenience: For decades, the Robotics and Automation group KUKA has relied on EMKA’s closures and hinges. So far, a total of several tens of thousands of items are used each year in control cabinets that serve to control intelligent industrial robots. EMKA fittings also play a vital role in the secure closure in the latest KUKA control cabinet series. The heart of the design is a modular swivelling lever system that features impressive variability and the rapid exchange of different locking devices.

Complete modular system for precisely fitting technology

KUKA AG, headquartered in Augsburg, Germany, is one of the world’s leading suppliers of robotics, systems engineering, and Industrie 4.0 solutions. In the field of robotics, KUKA offers automation solutions ranging from industrial robots to complete production systems.

The industrial robots manufactured in Germany are used in the automotive, electronics, and medical technology industries to perform tasks such as palletising, cutting, and welding.

KUKA is developing modular control cabinets at its Hungarian site for the robot controller and the central power supply. These modular control cabinets protect the sensitive electronic system against unauthorised access and prevent water and dust permeation.

Development of a new cabinet series

In order to guarantee this protection, the manufacturer has been relying on EMKA’s innovative locking technology for decades. Consequently, EMKA acts as a system supplier and provides numerous hardware parts for the respective projects. For the current series product, the KR C4 cabinet series means about 100,000 parts per year—based on up to 15,000 cabinets manufactured annually. For the latest KR C5 cabinet series, EMKA has received the order for the complete locking technology.

The planning stages started at the beginning of 2018, followed by approximately two years of development. In January 2021, the order for the series production of the fitting parts was placed. KUKA is currently starting series production of the cabinet series. EMKA delivers the parts directly to the KUKA production facility, where the cabinets are manufactured and finally shipped from there to Germany.

 

During the development, EMKA demonstrated its vertical range of manufacture or real net output ratio by making numerous adaptations to the customer’s requirements. In close consultation with KUKA, the hinge types and internal closures were redesigned several times. In addition to several door hinges, the core product is the swivel lever system from the 1325 range, characterised by its modularity and quick assembly.

A modular system offers variable, easily exchangeable locking centre inserts so that KUKA can respond precisely to its customers’ requirements. Furthermore, the flat design of the pre-assembled and spring-loaded swing handle and the use of flame-retardant plastic parts are impressive, making the system fire-proof.

Locks are not off-the-shelf

The development process focused on two aspects: EMKA developed a new 50/25/50 hole pattern, especially for the new KR C5 cabinet series. Also, the closure technology was adapted to new design requirements: In the course of a more modern look of the new series, the door construction is designed at an angle. The hinges had to be able to bear the loads and be installed accordingly. Another notable design concerns the latches’ placement: Normally, the control cabinets are closed exclusively from the outside.

However, the new KUKA cabinet series specified that a side door must be opened exclusively from the inside. For this purpose, T-shaped handles with reversed latches were installed mirror-inverted to not be visible from the outside and fulfil modern design requirements. However, the design also serves a functional purpose: during repair work, employees can unhinge the doors and have more moving space.

In close cooperation in Hungary

In addition to the product features, EMKA’s close liaison at the local level was particularly successful in the course of the project: “Since EMKA has a subsidiary in Budapest, the coordination channels were very short“, says Ákos Patkó, Development Manager of the KR C5 project at KUKA in Hungary. Open and straightforward communication is particularly noteworthy.

Our EMKA contact person István Komjáthy was often on-site and clarified essential questions concerning the development directly with our design engineers. “We also regularly received numerous sample parts to be tested“. Together, they ensured that the locking technology was a perfect fit, flexible in design, and safe in use – the ideal combination of simple assembly and high-quality protection.