Pilot customer project GripperAI

Innovation partnership between Festo and Würth

Würth tests the customised AI software solution from Festo at the Reinhold Würth Innovation Centre Curio. The "GripperAI" from Festo can handle heavy parts using a robot. This takes the strain off employees during packing tasks.

In the logistics centre of the Würth Group's headquarters in Künzelsau, Germany, there are final packaging stations where a wide variety of products arrive in trays on so-called sorter conveyors. Employees remove the objects from the trays and pack them in shipping cartons. Würth has around 1,000,000 products in its portfolio, from small and light products to very heavy parts. Working with heavy parts is a huge strain on employees. That is why the "GripperAI" software from Festo should be able to handle parts weighing up to 20 kilograms by using a robot. It was the AI expertise offered by Festo that impressed Würth and why it was selected for its innovation project, the development of a customised and flexible solution.

Development of a customised software solution

The Advanced Development Analytics and Control department the Research and Development division at Festo worked on the project for over two years: "We built a copy of Würth's sorter conveyors in our laboratory, allowing us to develop the various capabilities of the robot: object-dependent gripper selection, gripping all types of objects from the trays, packing shipping cartons and handling the cartons and trays," says Jan Seyler, Head of Advanced Development Analytics and Control.

GripperAI

One of the special features of the finished robot is its tool station. The robot can use various suction cups and grippers, and – depending on the type, shape and surface finish of the object – GripperAI determines which tool is most suitable. An integrated camera in the robot detects the various objects, enabling the precise tool to be selected. The Festo GripperAI solution can grip almost any object that is placed in front of it, precisely what the gripper and robot have been designed for. The grippers, which were specially developed for this project, are setting new standards in robot technology; the suction cups are part of the Festo product range.

The customised AI robot solution enables Würth to handle heavy parts and various objects efficiently, which in turn leads to a significant reduction in employee workload and more efficient operations. Another advantage of the Festo solution is that it requires no teaching or training. It also works with every robot and vision system.

The robot cell has been in use at Würth since the spring of 2023 and can operate all the designated conveyors. Further development work and optimisation steps have already been defined.