22. February 2023DESMA automates footwear production – robot-aided solutions for cementing upper and sole with amir®c
Robotic and automation solutions by DESMA Schuhmaschinen GmbH help the footwear industry automate production processes and raise product quality, efficiency, flexibility and sustainability in footwear production
Manual labour still accounts for a major share of the work in roughly 90 per cent of the total shoes produced worldwide. However, the trend towards process automation and standardisation is also picking up speed in the footwear business. There are many reasons for this: changing consumer behaviour increasingly places the focus on product quality, which therefore has to be raised to a consistent, reliable level. Production output has to be maintained, while costs ideally, on the other hand, have to be lowered. Materials and additives have to be used as economically as possible and employees freed from strenuous work. Sustainability issues are a further concern, i.e., reducing environmental pollution during the production process. DESMA Schuhmaschinen GmbH offers numerous solutions for production automation in response to all of these demands. The company has been developing innovative plant systems and pioneering robot integration since the 1980s. With more than 1500 robots in use worldwide, it is a forerunner in the field of automation.
amir®c – precise, reliable, and flexible cementing of upper and sole
In its amir®c product portfolio (automated material supply with integrated robots – cementing), DESMA offers automated tooling cells and production lines, inclusive of supporting operations for preparing uppers and soles for the cementing process. In companies producing sports and casual footwear as well as those focussing on trekking boots or safety shoes, these processes are still performed largely by hand. By automating these processes, the producers can improve their manufacturing as well as product quality and control their production processes more reliably by increasing precision and repeatability. What’s more, a controlled production process also reduces the use of consumables during production and relieves staff from physically exhausting and monotonous tasks.
DESMA has developed, for example, a particularly efficient automated tooling cell for the precise and reproducible application of primer and cement to soles as part of its amir®c product portfolio. This sole cell can be used as a standalone solution or alternatively integrated into production lines. The robot applies exactly the required amount of primer or cement, leading to significantly lower consumption of process chemicals. In another configuration, a similar cell can also be integrated into the production line to automatically roughen the surface of the upper following the defined tooling path: this is performed by a roughing robot, which roughens individual contours and delivers consistently good results.
In addition to these cell solutions, a typical amir®c- production line consists of several process stations and robot applications. At the start of such a line, soles and uppers are inserted manually into the production line. A camera is used to check the position of the uppers on the last, while the contours of the corresponding shoe soles are automatically scanned.
Once the “production recipe” has been loaded, e.g., by RFID or barcode technology, the production and control software obtains the exact data and contour lines needed for further processing during the subsequent production stages. Amongst other things, for example, the spray robot traces the outer contours of the sole and the upper precisely and applies exactly the required quantity of water- or solvent-based primer and/or cement.
Following the defined process, the soles and uppers then pass through various conditioning elements, before reaching the automatic bottoming cell which assists the operator to perform the sole laying operation under optimal conditions and also manages the flows up to the final pressing operation.
Flexible series production is possible
The option of scanning each individual sole during the process and the need to last each upper onto a highly precise last ensure that the robots can perform each tooling operation automatically without the need for any complicated reprogramming or retooling.
This means that amir®c can be used for small or large production batches extremely flexibly, precisely, automatically and with short cycles. Fluctuations in working and processing quality are virtually ruled out, which minimises production costs. Robots also improve working safety, while automation solutions improve general working conditions, amongst other things because employees no longer have to be protected from direct contact with cement fumes.
Support and service from project planning to production
When it comes to planning and designing amir®c systems, DESMA provides support and advice for its partners in the footwear industry right from the start. The production cells and lines are designed to meet individual customer requirements and the DESMA experts also take into account the conditions at the customer’s particular production site. The amir®c systems themselves are then produced in Achim, where the automation lines, inclusive of the control software, undergo thorough and comprehensive trials and tests prior to delivery. They are then packed, transported and assembled at the customer’s factory, where the robots are commissioned by DESMA engineers together with the customer. Global support and maintenance services ensure that DESMA customers can contact an expert at any time if they need spare parts or wish to enlarge their systems. DESMA Managing Director Klaus Freese states, “We don't leave our customers after the start of production, but support them through a variety of channels - online or in person - throughout the entire service life of the DESMA system.” Automation solutions thus help to standardise work processes, improve product quality and boost the customer’s competitiveness on a permanent basis.back