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The Teamwork



Collaboration is the interaction of humans for the mutual benefit. The principle is equally true in machines. This story shows how true teamwork enables a global SaarGummi team to succeed in robotic collaboration beyond any borders.
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Volker Schumacher

Volker Schumacher works as innovation scout for robotics and VR/AR at SG Neo. His passion is to look behind the surface. He loves to take things apart and to put them back together. And not only in vintage motorcycles and specialty cars 
in his leisure time... 
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At SG Neo he dedicates his skills and experience to fully comprehend the abilities of robots and how to implement them in the daily production of sealing systems for the car industry.
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The Tool

“We do more craftsmanship - handmade stuff in our company - it is less of an industrial process in my opinion“, says Volker Schumacher. The biggest advantage of this robot is the collaborative ability. That means that people can work next to it without fencing and reduced safety equipment around while you interact with it. The collaborative industrial tool doing human work perfectly matches  the SaarGummi environment.

“When we first contacted the company for collaborative robots and showed our facilities and processes to the manager he said: to grab these non stiff parts with the robot will never work. But today we do!“
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The Packing

The predevelopment with the robots' movement and tasks is done at SG Neo in Germany. The innovative idea is then pushed further with joint ventures. As seen here Volker Schumacher & Hua Rong wrap up the robot after testing. It  travels now  to the outskirts of Madrid at SaarGummi, Spain for some real field experience.

Collaboration on a daily basis is key for the global network of SG plants. 
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The Travel, Madrid

Volker Schumacher: “SaarGummi Spain is the next logical step. Even though you have similar robotic activities in Germany, Czech Republic, USA and Mexico. SG Spain invests into new technologies for many years already.”
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The Arrival

Technology drives innovation.
Its relevance is powered by innovative spirit.

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And the innovative spirit comes from the Managing Director Juan de Navascués at SG Spain and a special force he put together.
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Meet the diverse and vivid innovation team.
And before you will we take you back in time to the beginnings of the teamwork with SG Spain that started when Sven Müller had an idea for automatization years before.
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“It all started back in  2015 when the CEO of SG Group, Michael Lorig and myself started the discussion about how to apply automization at SaarGummi Automotive.
Collaborative systems were just on the rise. I  found a suitable robot manufacturer with whom we ran some tests. The biggest challenge was how to grab and channel the soft rubber materials into machine tools.”

The R&D lab from company Festo came up with the idea to copy a pneumatic muscle that flexes and relaxes. The tests were promising. Michael Lorig mentioned to Sven that the guys in Spain are also starting something with robots. The rest is history.

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The Automatization

This is an automized ITS (inline transfer splicing) machine.

This process has been done in part manually and is now fully automized with the additional assistance of collaborative robots.
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The Collaboration

“We developed the original idea of Sven Müller further and implemented collaborative robots into one of our automized ITS (inline transfer splicing) machines. This concept is now also in a trial stage for one of our most complex machines: the extrusion line. The final goal is to entirely automatize the splicing process with the help of collaborative robots.”

The good thing is that heavy tasks are handed over to robots while people handle the more sensitive and complex tasks such as quality management.

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Alvaro works at SG Spain over 4 years now. He was born in Madrid and studied mechanical engineering at the Technical University, Madrid. He picked engineering because he simply loves cars.

In my room I have hundred of small model cars
 which I collected over the years since childhood.
I am also a Formula One fanatic.

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Right after university he started estimating costs of all projects at SG. He then became part of the industrialization process by ensuring the preparedness of equipment and tooling for the start of production.

In November 2015, the Managing Director of SG Spain, Juan de Navascués, handpicked a five people innovation team personally in which he became the team leader.

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“At the university I was just a number among 400 people. Here, everything is much more personal. Juan knows all of us.”
This created a team spirit within the entire company that consists of 250 people in total.
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Reality check

It all looks easy, but there was a moment where the team thought: 'Do we really want to continue'?
A company refused to help with the usage of collaborative robots.

They plainly stated that it was simply impossible for collaborative robots to handle sensitive rubber product the right way. The team stubbornly continued. Now they are independent and own all the knowledge about how to use and implement collaborative robots themselves. 
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The Innovation team

“What I love about my job is that every day is completely different. We have project related topics with various materials and processes with new technologies like the collaborative robot. These are all entirely new frontiers for us. We now have to enter into a very creative dialog with these opportunities.”

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Angel started as a mechanical engineer in Germany prior to working at SG Spain. He focussed ever since on automatization and machine maintenance. Instead of maintaining the same thing over and over again he was always driven by finding new solutions to the root cause. The challenge to integrate a collaborative robot into a fully automized machine seems to him the perfect match.

“I work here for 20 years now. What I really like about this place is Juan’s continuous engagement for improvements. He came to the company and changed it into a much more personal and engaging atmosphere.”

Our heads are round so that our thinking can change its direction   

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He actually started his career as a cook and peeled onions for 6 months. Raul switched jobs to a factory that manufactured tooling for bathrooms. After 12 years being there the factory closed and he started at SaarGummi three years ago working the extrusion line.

“I like the complexity of this machine. In the innovation team now I support mainly Angel with the 
tooling of the robot and how the profile ends up at the robot always in the same position. I also help Patricia with the programming.
What I like the best here is that I am learning something new every day as opposed to the former factory where it was always the same.”

Learning is experience - everything else is just information 

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Patricia worked at BMW automotive for five years prior to SaarGummi Spain. She collects and analyzes data. At the moment her focus is on the programming of the collaborative robot.

“In parallel I am in the second year of studying psychology because I am very interested in what’s going on inside humans. I love my colleagues - they make for a beautiful and great team.”

If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find excuses 

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He started with an internship a year ago and stayed. Diego just finished his studies and thesis.

“The most important project right now is the robot but I also work on coating thickness detection, the thesis of my studies. I work together with Patricia on programming, research and analyzing collected data from various machines.
What I like the most here is that everything is the opposite of routine. I have to be creative and invent things. And this team makes it interesting and fun

Small steps walk big distances

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Manuel's expertise is electronics which he implements for 15 years at the plant. The innovation team benefits greatly from this. At the moment he finds ways on how to automatically transfer parts into boxes as part of robot assisted automatization.

“I like the atmosphere in our team, the research for new technologies like cameras, software and the fact that there could be useful for any of our projects.”
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Isabel started as floor operator 21 years ago, worked as an assistant in the production department and is for two years now in the Innovation team.

“I am looking into financial support for our projects. This year for example our 
ministry of economy co-financed our new extrusion line. We are proud of this acknowledgment from the Spanish government. 
I love my job: it is very satisfying for us when projects are funded and realized because of it. And I love my team.”

The best way to predict the future is to invent it 

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It is great to teamwork with Volker. He has worked for SG in different positions for well over 12 years. He knows all the plants and processes perfectly well. We don’t really have a lab, but the good thing is that we prepare our infrastructure in a way that innovations can be tested in real world scenarios. Our global teamwork combines these experiences with the assets of the entire SG Group and creates
leading innovations.

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Ángel García Gismero
Álvaro Jiménez Gradillas
Diego Rodriguez Masip 

Isabel García Galdón 
Manuel R. Gonzalez Martín
Patricia Lopez Alves
Raul Serna Pozuelo
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The Location

Calle Hierro, s/n
Pol. Ind. Gestesa
E-28890 Loeches Madrid
Tel. +34 91 886 23 00
Fax +34 91 886 23 03

Managing Director  
Juan de Navascues
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