The biography of the pieces

Traceability is no longer a challenge, but a reality. A key element that must be taken into account when planning Industrial Manufacturing Processes.

It is important to determine the most appropriate traceability solution for the processes that we need to control. For the selection it is important to take into account the technological advances in communication systems and data storage.


Today there are many alternatives to meet the need for control of production Processes. All must comply with the quality, safety and reliability standards required of said control.

The best choice is the one that best suits the future of the process. The chosen traceability system must evolve in parallel tothe manufacturing process. Apparent complexity is simplified by parameterizable applications or adaptive developments or an efficient combination of both.

The main objective of implementing a trace system is to allow the tracking in the supply chain of the joint parts and each of its components, but it is also important to highlight the defect detection function of the production process itself, which allows us to study improvements for optimization through corrective actions.

In conclusion, traceability systems have an impact on manufacturing processes by reducing manufacturing times (costs) and improving quality (confidence) in the product.

Eva Suárez, Operations Area.

diseño industrial Pontevedra

CELL-OS, European digitalization and analytics project for robotics

CTAG and PROBOTEC are executing the CELL-OS – Robotic Cell Operative System project, framed as a cascade funding project in ZDMP – Zero Defects Manufacturing Platform, a European project that seeks the development of a platform to support manufacturing processes with zero defects.

En CELL-OS, CTAG and PROBOTEC are working on the validation and adaptation of the ZDMP platform for a real use case, related to a robotic riveting cell. To this end, a new method of monitoring the devices of the cell has been developed, and work has been done on the development of new models for predicting the quality and reliability of the cell. ZDMP has supported the use and deployment of a series of tools for this.

diseño industrial Pontevedra

In November, the results of the project will be presented to ZDMP. The project will also be disseminated at the I4MS Stakeholders event  (Budapest, 19/10/2022), at the Hands-on Automotive Workshop organized jointly by EIT-Manufacturing and CTAG (Porriño, 25/10/2022), as well as at an upcoming event organized by PROBOTEC in November 2022.

células robóticas autónomas


This project has received cascading funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 825631.

PalPro, solución perfecta paletizado industrial

PalPro, our palletizing solution

It is possible that one day cars will fly, or that they will slide without contact on the ground generating a magnetic field that is repelled by the large magnet earth (would there be cars for the northern hemisphere and for the south? … they would surely have a “polarity change” switch. But what do you say? They would use GPS location to switch polarities) …  mental speculations, I will say, avoiding the colloquial.

There are many advances in this regard, but in the meantime, they move using circular shaped pieces invented thousands of years ago.

I will try to make sense of this seemingly disjointed introduction later.


The automation  of product packaging is undoubtedly one of the fields of application of robotics in general, and one of the variants is the use of collaborative robots.

From PROBOTEC we have understood this, and the result is our “PalPro“, a  complete and simple solution based on robust fundamentals.

We will make a brief tour  of some of the bridges that we have been crossing.


Distribution of elements – Mosaics

One of the tasks to be performed prior to palletizing is to determine the placement of the elements on the pallet, based, mainly, on the optimization of the final volume, although there are other aspects to take into account such as the stability of the whole. To do this, it is usual to distribute the elements in alternately different layers and optionally, to intersperse between them some separator element.  What is the optimal placement?

Container packaging is an optimization problem, in  which items of different sizes must be located in a finite number of containers, each of a fixed capacity, so that  the number of them to be used is minimized.

Computationally speaking, the problem is of the NP-Hard type, and the corresponding decision problem (deciding whether the elements can fit in a specific number of containers) is NP-complete.

distribucion medios mosaicos

Despite its difficulty, in the worst case, optimal solutions can be produced for very large instances with sophisticated algorithms.  Many   approximation algorithms are existen. For example, the first adjustment algorithm provides a quick, but often not optimal, solution that involves placing each item in the first space in which it fits. It requires Θ (n log n) times, where n is the number of articles to pack. The algorithm can be made much more effective by first sorting the list of items in decreasing order (sometimes known as the decreasing algorithm of first setting), although this still does not guarantee an optimal solution, and for longer lists it can increase the execution time of the algorithm.  It is known, however, that there is always at least one ordering of elements that allows the first adjustment to produce an optimal solution.

There are many variations of this problem, such as 2D packaging, linear packaging, weight packing, cost packaging, etc.

A variant of containerized packaging that occurs in practice is when items can share space when packed in a container. Specifically, a set of items might take up less space when packed together than the sum of their individual sizes. This variant is known as VM packaging, because when virtual machines (VMs) are packaged on a server, their total memory requirement could decrease due to pages shared by VMs that only need to be stored once. If items can share space arbitrarily, the problem of containerized packaging is difficult to even approximate. However, if the shared space fits into a hierarchy, as is the case with shared memory in virtual machines, the problem of containerized packaging can be approached efficiently.

PalPro facilitates the configuration of tiles by offering different distributions of elements per layer to choose from.


Optimized hardware architecture – PalProPC+HMI

Although the programming console of a robot, or a conventional HMI, can be used as  an interface for the configuration of tiles (enter box measurements, edit layer distribution, select stacking order, etc. ) there is no doubt that this task is more typical of a personal computer, with the convenience of using a  conventional mouse and keyboard.  PalPro has a PC with touch screen that fulfills a double function: Create and edit the different distributions and  HMI interface for the exploitation of the cell. (Running the configuration software  PlaPro can be performed on any other PC, in the office, e.g. and  then transfer the result to the cell)

Once the Job to be performed has been selected, the necessary information is transferred to the PLC that takes control and is responsible for indicating to the robot the trajectories to be executed at all times: From where and what element it has to take, and where it must deposit it.

From that moment on, the PC goes on to fulfill the functions of HMI as mentioned above.

Arquitectura hardware optimizada – PalProPC+HMI

PalPro, a round solution 

I admit that we have not invented the wheel (because it was already …) but we have eliminated any quadrature atisbo, optimizing resources, without using cannons and we have a proprietary, scalable and 100% solution under our control.

Manuel Juíz, Product Development PROBOTEC.

células robóticas autónomas

CELL-OS, Robotic Cell Operative System

PROBOTEC, an expert in industrial automation, together with the Automotive Technology Center of Galicia, has received funding from the European project  “ZDMP Zero Defects Manufacturing Platform” for the development of the CELL-OS project between January and October 2022.

The goal of CELL-OS is to transfer the concept of factory operating system to autonomous robotic cells, designed for welding, container collection and palletizing purposes to integrate them into manufacturing lines.

Today’s robotic cells are designed for very specific tasks, and their communication with the manufacturing line is often very limited. However, robotic cells have great potential to provide more connectivity, interoperability and intelligence to the factory.

The main objective of CELL-OS is to enable the end users of robotic cells to have additional functions, oriented to AI and analytics to perform predictive maintenance and quality prediction, so that the overall performance of the cell can be evaluated in real time. This will help provide manufacturing robotic cells with almost zero defects, with maximum reliability for high-demand environments. CELL-OS will provide new functionalities and connectivity-interoperability potential to PROBOTEC robotic cells, to make them more attractive and with greater added value.

células robóticas autónomas

This project has received cascading funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 825631.

bin picking, robots industriales

What is Bin Picking?

robots industriales

Bin Picking was born as the result of the union between a vision team and a robot. Conceptually, the operation is very simple, it is based on extracting pieces arranged in a chaotic way from a basket in order to palletize them neatly in a basket for delivery to the customer or even the direct feeding of different tools or tools.

The vision equipment is a 3D system that allows us to analyze the scene and locate the different pieces in space. In addition, it establishes which part is the most suitable to extract in each cycle, optimizing the entire process. Unlike traditional pick and place applications, based on vision systems where the trajectories are previously recorded and where the vision system is in charge of correcting said trajectories, Bin Picking systems self-generate picking trajectories based on the Localized parts and their work environment (columns that may exist, basket walls …) to achieve greater process efficiency.

The different processes that are carried out in a Bin Picking system are:

  • Bulk Parts Container Scan
  • Analysis of the information captured by the 3D camera identifying the different pieces present in the basket
  • Establishment of the order of catching the located pieces for the correct optimization of the emptying of the basket
  • Automatic calculation of the catch path by the vision software and sending it to the robot system
  • Picking up the piece avoiding the different obstacles such as the container walls
  • Deposit of the piece in the corresponding place

The difficulty largely resides in the type of part to be located. It varies depending on the size of the pieces, their shape (normally the flatter the pieces are, making it difficult to locate them correctly in space), the amount of brightness that these pieces generate …

A basic Bin Picking system is composed of a 3D vision camera, a vision PC where there is software where the captured information is processed and a robot for handling the pieces. The precision of these systems is not excessively great. For this reason, it is sometimes necessary to complement this basic system with some additional vision equipment for the repositioning of parts on the fly or an intermediate centering position.


Advantages of Bin Picking systems:

  • Great flexibility and versatility, both in workload and reprogramming
  • Higher productivity can be achieved, being able to work non-stop with minimal supervision
  • They perform repetitive tasks, always with the same precision
  • Vision recognizes and locates the position and orientations of parts in space
  • Automatically calculates trajectories and robot movements avoiding collisions with its environment
  • Quick payback of the system
Selección de materiales | Probotec

Selection of materials in the design phase

The materials available in engineering are many and very diverse. They are basically distinguished by their chemical composition, their state (solid, liquid or gas) and their internal structure.

In this case we will focus on solids because they are the most used in the design of machines and components, mainly due to their ability to perform structural functions.

The selection of materials for the different parts or components is a fundamental part and the success of our design will largely depend on doing it correctly.

Below we will list and briefly detail the main factors to take into account:

– Function and life cycle of the component: The first thing to bear in mind is that the material must meet the demands to which the piece is going to be subjected. We must attend to its physical characteristics and properties:

  • Density: relationship between the mass and the volume of the material, fundamental because it will define the weight, among other aspects.
  • Mechanical properties: behavior of the material against external agents (elasticity, plasticity, malleability, ductility, hardness, toughness and brittleness)
  • Thermal properties: determine the behavior of materials against heat or ambient temperature (specific heat, thermal expansion, heat capacity, thermal conduction, specific temperatures…)
  • Electrical properties: behavior when electric current passes through it (conductivity, resistivity, magnetic properties, dielectric properties…)
  • Optical properties: they are those that are revealed when light falls on them (transmissivity, absorptivity, reflectivity…)

Manufacturing and/or shaping processes: It is important to take into account the processes by which we are going to work the starting material. Although initially it meets the required properties, we must pay attention to the fact that after these processes they may undergo variations that reduce or enhance them. We must also choose a material for which the means of transformation are within our reach and have reasonable costs.

Cost and supply: It will be essential to take into account that the chosen material adapts to our budget and that the supply conditions are favorable to us. We can find equivalent materials and we must then assess the best value for money and also make sure that we are going to obtain the material within the necessary period.

Finishes and other sensory aspects: The finish we want to give to the product or machine will also condition the choice of material. If possible, this factor will be less decisive than the previous ones, but every day the importance given to user perception is greater. We will find materials with more or less attractive colors and textures, with greater or lesser ease of performing finishing operations, the possibility of painted or lacquered finishes, a greater or lesser sensation of solidity, better or worse touch, etc.

Recycling and environmental impact: Perhaps the conditioning factor that is currently gaining the most weight. The environmental sensitivity of both people and companies is on the rise and that is why materials with less environmental impact are sought both in obtaining them and in their transformation, prioritizing those that generate less waste and that can be recycled at the end of their life. its useful life.

At Probotec we want to contribute our grain of sand to achieve a more sustainable industry and world and for this we have the ISO 14001 certification whose objective is to control environmental aspects, reduce impacts and ensure legal compliance in environmental matters. We have drawn up environmental management procedures for all waste generated directly or indirectly and we require all our suppliers to properly manage it.

– Other possible conditions: As each project is a world, different conditions may arise, even greater than the previous ones. A couple of examples may be the degree of innovation (depending on the possibility of researching and experimenting with new materials) or the machine’s work environment (different degrees of humidity or salinity and exposure to extreme temperatures).

Alfredo Blanco Veiga, Department of Mechanical Design PROBOTEC.

sistemas de visión artificial

The importance of light in artificial vision systems

proyectos de automatización

As defined by the RAE, light is the physical agent that makes objects visible and our objective with artificial vision systems is nothing more than that, SEE. Locate parts and use that information appropriately to improve the operation of our facility.

An easy-to-understand example could be the location of a part on a conveyor belt. With a vision system we could calculate its position and transmit that information to a robot so that it can pick it up correctly.

Light must be used to adequately illuminate our scene. Lighting is the most important factor and its proper control is decisive for the final result. With this I do not mean that a lot of light is beneficial, but that its correct adjustment in our installation will be what marks the obtaining of good results.

Most of the time, in industrial environments the lighting conditions are not suitable. For this reason, it is chosen to artificially illuminate the work environment and even in some cases cabine the installation so that the external light interferes as little as possible in our application. What we are looking for is to have a constant and homogeneous light source at any time of the day. Changes in lighting can lead to false positives at the time of detection or even make it impossible to locate the parts.

We do not always seek to have great sharpness in all the details of our pieces. In certain applications it may be interesting to use widely known tools in the world of photography such as backlighting. With this technique, what is tried is to achieve a great contrast between our piece and the background of the image, thus obtaining a perfectly defined silhouette, which may be what interests us the most for our application. As Coco Chanel said “simplicity is the key to true elegance”.

However, despite its enormous importance, the selection of a good lighting system is often one of the most frequently neglected and undervalued parts of a vision system. Because as the saying goes “there is no worse blind than the one who does not want to see.”


Jaime Losada, PROBOTEC Technical Department.

tolerancias construcción mecánica

Zero tolerance. The importance of tolerances in mechanical construction

This post is a brief introduction to tolerances in the world of mechanical design and construction, trying to clarify what they are, what their usefulness is and why they are important.

The definition and standardization of tolerances arises to respond to the need to generate standardized parts that can be linked to each other and generate sets, mechanisms, or other constructions. It also allows the replacement of deteriorated parts with new parts that comply perfectly while maintaining the operation of the set.

When making a mechanical design, we start with a sketch where we make a visual approximation of the part, then we scale this sketch and give it the necessary measurements for the design to work and generate a three-dimensional model. Although in our “virtual model” the forms are perfect, we must not forget that in reality it is impossible to obtain these perfect forms. The degree of approximation to perfection will be defined by the functional requirements of the part and its manufacturing cost, to obtain more precise parts we need more expensive materials and production processes, which can sometimes be above the limit cost of the part.

On the other hand, it is impossible to manufacture two pieces with absolutely equal dimensions because different factors intervene in their construction, such as: the very nature of the material from which it is manufactured, the characteristics and details of each of the machines. that intervene in the manufacture or the different manufacturing processes that are followed to manufacture it.

To solve this, a series of intervals are stipulated that define whether the part is valid or not, these intervals are defined by the geometric and mechanical needs of the part and are indicated on a plane with respect to the nominal dimension, they are the tolerances .

At a mechanical level, we mainly consider two types of tolerances:
The dimensional tolerances that are defined as the total amount that is allowed to vary in manufacturing a dimension specified in the drawing according to the nominal dimension.

Through these, an upper and a lower limit are established, within which the good pieces must be. According to this criterion, all the desired dimensions, also called nominal dimensions, have to be accompanied by limits, which define a tolerance field. Many plane dimensions carry these explicit limits, following the nominal value.

Annotation example:

50         Nominal height

+0.5      Upper limit

-0.1       Lower limit

Therefore, all values ​​between 49.99 and 50.05 would be admissible.

Dimensional tolerances expressed with letters can also be found, this obeys the ISO dimensioning and is generally used to dimension shafts and holes.

In this case the letters “F” and “h” define the position (upper (positive) or lower (negative)) and the numbers “7” and “6” define the degree of quality (limits).

We must look for these correspondences of the letters and numbers present in the dimension in the ISO tables for this purpose, although in this case of the example it is also specified numerically.

IMPORTANT: the lower case letter will always refer to axes and the upper case to holes.

The geometric tolerances are those that limit the shape of the surfaces of the part and the relative position therebetween. They are specified for those parts that have to fulfill important functions in an assembly and on which the reliability of the product may depend.

These tolerances can control individual shapes or define relationships between different shapes. The following classification of these tolerances is usual:

  • Primitive shapes: straightness, flatness, roundness, cylindricity
  • Complex shapes: profile, surface
  • Orientation: paralelism, perpendicularity, inclination
  • Location: concentricity, position
  • Oscillation: radial, axial or total circular

Geometric tolerance dimensioning structure:

In this dimension we see how an angular tolerance of 0.1 value is required with respect to the reference surface A.

If we assume that the angle between them is 45º, the admissible in this case would be an angularity between 44.9º and 45.1º

Below is a table with the different symbols of geometric characteristics and their correspondences:

automatización industrial

Finally, it should be noted that all those dimensions of a plane that do not have a tolerance explicitly indicated are governed by the rule indicated in the drawing box:

Alfredo Blanco Veiga, Department of Mechanical Design PROBOTEC.

Estudio previo | Probotec

Previous study. The difference between success and failure

Automation projects consist of several phases throughout their entire process. One of the most important and that can determine the success or failure of the project is the design or planning phase.

Before starting to build and assemble our project, it is convenient to be very clear about all the parts that are going to compose it, hence a good preliminary study is essential.

Some of the key issues that must be taken into account during this phase are the current legal regulations, which often limit the implementation of these projects. It is important to know, or have the advice of qualified people, in the application of the current regulations that apply to our machine or production line. Safety distances, heights of perimeter closures, response time of dangerous equipment, etc. are some of the data to take into account in our previous design.

proyectos de automatización

Throughout this phase, the objectives must be indicated, the scope indicated, the plans drawn up, the resources identified, the tasks distributed, and a work plan created, among many other tasks.

The preliminary study is more than the definition of the necessary parts to carry out our project, it is to thoroughly analyze all the parts, both electrical, pneumatic, mechanical, etc., as well as to propose and perfectly define our PLC and robotics engineering. All this, well planned and studied, is what can make our project finish successfully, and that in the face of small setbacks we can deal with quickly and effectively, showing our clients the professionalism and ability to do a good job.

From my experience in these 20 years, a large part of the success of the projects that I have carried out, many of them large, critical due to their execution time or because they are in important areas of the production chain, have mainly come from studies Thorough and meticulous preliminary tests, getting everything studied and documented, thus facilitating the work of the rest of the people involved in the project, making everyone end up doing everything you had planned in your previous study.

Pablo Padín Pazos, Head of PROBOTEC Technical Department.

logística interna

Reflection on internal logistics, handling and automation

Although during these 5 months that I have been at Probotec I have increased my technical knowledge, it is true that we have professionals in the company with a very marked technical profile and with a lot of experience who will help us to write very interesting articles with great technological content and news surprising. I am going to launch with a little reflection, especially at a commercial rather than technical level, which is where I can contribute a little more. Soon we will create our blog on the website which we will update with many interesting articles.

We are currently living in a difficult time where COVID-19 is joined by a crisis that we are yet to see the consequences.

In this current reality we need to turn our heads to be increasingly efficient and effective in everything we do. In my opinion, one of the strategic sectors is logistics. Internal and external logistics must move forward taking a firm step by integrating increasingly advanced automation and robotics solutions.

Thinking that there are more and more automatic solutions in warehouses such as fully automated warehouses, AGV-type equipment for the transfer of raw materials and finished product, we have to give it a spin to achieve even more growth at the level of automation in this field. that?:

To simplify the work carried out by the person, so that this person can go on to carry out control and maintenance work. Not long ago I saw in a food logistics plant load a truck with a food product that weighs little and takes up more. To the question and why do you do this process manually? The answer was that they needed to load the truck up to the top, which means up to the roof and sometimes without a box to be able to take advantage of the maximum volume and thus make it profitable. Have we really not been able to automate processes like these yet? Do we need to have a person to do this process, even if it is the end and not take advantage of it for more value-added processes? Of course with the great physical effort involved and possible injuries. You are right!! We have much to do.

Reliably change industrial processes if necessary. Usually in the companies in which I have worked, I have seen that a change in a process entailed a significant risk in all aspects because it largely depended on the operations carried out by people. With automation we avoid that trauma or at least soften it.

Improve the quality of products by increasing their production, since with automation we avoid the fatigue that the person may have. I have worked for years in quality in the automotive sector and I can assure you that this happens.

Improve the safety of people since we prevent the person from performing dangerous or complex tasks. This is very important, we must not only think about production and that said production is reliable, but we must also guarantee everyone’s safety.

These points were taken from a small training that I have begun to carry out at the Polytechnic of Vigo to try to advise my clients as well as possible and have some clearer concepts, but they define quite well what we are talking about.

We will talk at length about warehouse logistics, about internal and handling I will give you a little reflection.
A few days ago a client raised me a problem of internal logistics or for others of handling, where an operator has to handle / transfer a raw material by weight (10-12 kg) because current solutions do not They gave an answer to this problem due to the characteristics of the layout and the facilities themselves.

After thinking about it many times, thinking of boarding a Cobot on an AGV (weight limitations, times, …) or mounting a Robot on a track, with difficulties generated at the level of security and accessibility, in addition to other ideas, we have been left with something really simple to which we will think of integrating some safe automation, otherwise it would not be us.

If I ask you this, it is because many times we only think of automating external logistics processes and internal logistics are forgotten and I am not only referring to taking the raw material at the beginning of the process or transferring the finished product to the warehouse, but to all that type of intermediate manipulations that are done manually and repetitively that all they generate is little added value and if a lot of injury and routine.

We have to stop and analyze all the phases of the process and then try to find a suitable solution for each one so that we can improve both at the security level and at the economic level. For these analyzes we can use tools such as FMEA (Modal Analysis of Failures or Effects), process flow charts and automation, etc …

Here is a good example of a portable turnkey cell that performs the operation of collecting pieces from a line and placing it in a basket or another depending on the type of piece, in addition to being able to take it from one line to another with a forklift . This team would attack most of the points that I mentioned before, but it is only a small example of what we can do from Probotec Procesos Industriales SL

I hope that this small article that I have dared to write will be useful for some of you.

Álvaro Pérez Pena, PROBOTEC Commercial Department.