Complete safety in the sanitaryware white finishing process

RobotClean is Sacmi’s new technology for safely performing all sanitaryware white finishing operations which are currently carried out manually and place the operator at risk of contact with hazardous substances such as respirable crystalline silica dust.

Operator working conditions are becoming an increasingly important issue in all industries and the sanitaryware sector is no exception. With this in mind, Sacmi is constantly in search of the best solutions for safeguarding workers’ health in keeping with its commitment to social responsibility.

With the introduction of Italian Legislative Decree no. 44/2020, respirable crystalline silica dust and all operations involving exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust generated by a manufacturing process have been included in the list of Processes and Agents at Risk of Carcinogenic Exposure.

To meet the requirements of the new occupational safety regulations, Sacmi has developed RobotClean technology, a solution that will allow sanitaryware manufacturers to safely carry out all operations commonly referred to as “sanitaryware white finishing” which are currently performed manually and place operators at risk of contact with hazardous substances.

Developed through years of R&D work carried out at the Sacmi Laboratories in Imola, RobotClean consists of an anthropomorphic robot equipped with a series of newly developed tools, an innovative dedicated programming system and a range of accessories devoted to piece finishing.

These dedicated RobotClean tools are designed to faithfully reproduce the operations performed manually by the operator and feature integrated control to compensate for the forces acting on the piece. They are available in a variety of models specially designed for the various steps (external surfaces, internal surfaces of the WC bowl, rim and under-rim, etc.) and for different models of sanitaryware. These tools enable the final quality of piece finishing to be controlled with total precision. The tools are equipped with special abrasive elements devoted to finishing operations and with blowing and extraction units to ensure the complete cleanliness of the operating area. Changes of tools and abrasives from one stage to the next are managed completely independently by the robot. The technology combines perfect mechanical compensation of the forces on the pieces with the use of special finishing tools tailored to the needs of the sanitaryware industry. It is capable of working with pieces produced using very different casting technologies, from high-pressure casting to traditional casting with plaster moulds. In all cases, RobotClean guarantees a finishing process that meets the quality standards requested by the most demanding producers.

The concept of modularity was also a major consideration when designing the technology. As a result, Sacmi is able to offer the sanitaryware industry a complete range of automatic finishing solutions, each devoted to specific production requirements: from the fully equipped finishing cell capable of carrying out the complete range of operations required for the production mix (exploiting the cell’s flexibility) through to solutions with several finishing robots positioned in sequence so as to maximise production capacity and eliminate tool changes.

In order to provide a rapid and intuitive technological solution, RobotClean is equipped with dedicated programming software capable of performing detailed simulation of the robot’s movements and operations. All the programming and simulation activities can be carried out directly from the office (offline programming mode) and therefore without the need for lengthy production stops for the creation of new robot missions.

RobotClean is designed to be integrated with the other stages of the production process and with other Sacmi technologies already in operation in the factory, from casting cells to automatic robotised glazing lines, with the aim of achieving complete automation of sanitaryware production plants.

The RobotClean cell is also equipped with a special device for rotating and overturning the sanitaryware item. This allows it to perform white finishing operations over the entire surface of the piece, so manual operator intervention is limited to the final testing stage.

The innovative filter cabin specially developed for RobotClean also plays an important role in ensuring a healthy and clean working environment. It is designed to guarantee the highest quality filtration of the processing dust produced in the robot’s working area, ensuring that it cannot escape and contaminate the workplace.

In addition to its essential function of creating a safe and healthy workplace, RobotClean also serves to standardise the quality of a process that is currently performed entirely manually by human operators. Considering that white finishing is one of the most important stages in terms of the appearance of the finished product, RobotClean is able to achieve consistent quality from one piece to another without the inherent variability typical of manual processes, thereby guaranteeing complete customer satisfaction.

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