Automation Process Development Cell for Thales UK

Thales UK needed a robust and safe way to upskill their workforce in the field of automation. They needed a way to enable their colleagues to test, learn, feedback, and iterate with new technologies.

Loop Technology designed and built a customised RoboPRIME – a self-contained, industrial automation process development cell. It is a completely configurable testbed to accommodate different parts and processes. The cell allows Thales UK and the wider supply chain to test automation concepts on their existing manual processes, develop new methods of manufacturing, and learn. All in a safe, reliable, and consistent environment.

The cell was commissioned under a project called COREF – Connected Reconfigurable Factory. The project aims to realise the “Factory of the Future” using Industry 4.0 technologies. COREF will develop two digitally-connected industrial innovation labs at their Belfast & Crawley sites.

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We integrated:

  • Fanuc CRX-10iA collaborative robot
  • Tablet teach pendant
  • 2m x 2m table top rated to 100kg, with T-slots, cable access holes and quick access I/O box
  • Dedicated safety system with interlocked guarding and safety monitoring system
  • Configurable touch screen HMI
  • Safety area scanners

Reconfiguring the cell
The table top is completely reconfigurable. It enables simple repositioning of the robot, and the addition of tooling. RoboPRIME cells are modular, and can be combined for larger and more complex systems.

Programming the robot
The collaborative robot can be programmed easily with manual guided teaching or with the robot teach pendant.

Running the robot
The system was programmed with the flexibility to run as a collaborative robot, or autonomously as an industrial robot, even without guarding. The safety area scanners allow the robot to run autonomously at full speed with the doors open. It automatically switches to a reduced robot speed if an operator enters the safety zone, and collaborative mode if an operator is within robot reach.


Cell Size
The cell size required was too large to fit through the access doors onsite. Our mechanical engineers designed RoboPRIME to be easily split in half and rebuilt whilst still able to support 100kg.

Operator safety was our main concern. Careful consideration was given to how we set the safety zones, speeds and robot operations with the guarding present or removed.


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