Family-run furniture maker becomes an industry leader through the collaborative help of Olympus Technologies & the University of Sheffield AMRC

Family-run furniture maker Fibreline has become an industry leader through the collaborative help of Olympus Technologies & the University of Sheffield AMRC, who proved that robotics and automation technologies could increase capacity and improve productivity in its production process.

The Keighley-based business, which was founded in 1982 and employs about 200 workers, supplies bespoke cushion filling for up to 4,000 sofas every week.

Fibreline approached the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) to investigate whether two of its labour-intensive processes could be fully automated: the drilling of buttonholes in pieces of foam and the process of spraying adhesive glue to products on the assembly line.

A selection of Fibreline’s foam products were sent to AMRC’s Factory 2050 in Sheffield, the UK’s first state-of-the-art digital factory entirely dedicated to conducting collaborative research into reconfigurable robotics, digitally assisted assembly and machining technologies, to be tested using one of their onsite universal robots and cameras to determine the right specification, which they were able to do.

The report and drilling specification were then presented to Olympus Technologies, one of Fibreline’s existing suppliers, which enabled Olympus to provide Fibreline with a fully automated process – using the output from a 21-megapixel Keyence camera, mounted above a turntable, to modify the Octopuz offline programming software drilling path, based on the actual position of the foam.

The collaboration with AMRC, who’s testing had de-risked and largely proved the concept, gave Olympus Technologies the confidence to implement the project for Fibreline.

The drilling cell has now been in operation for more than a year and Fibreline are incredibly happy with the result.

For more information on how Olympus can help you automate your production contact the team on 01484 514513 or email [email protected].

Read the full story on the AMRC’s website here.