ABB Robots Help to Create Unique Footwear

Aug 25, 2016

​​ABB collaborated with KEEN to bring automation to footwear development. The UNEEK Robotic cell used two ABB IRB 120 robots to weave two independent cords together to create a shoe. This workcell can produce a shoe in half the time of the current production process.


KEEN, an out­door and lifestyle footwear brand, cre­at­ed UNEEK footwear to not only inno­vate the design of the shoe but also the process by which it is made. KEEN has col­lab­o­rat­ed with House of Design, LLC, an ABB Robot­ics Val­ue Provider, to devel­op a unique automa­tion cell for the UNEEK footwear man­u­fac­tur­ing process. From its incep­tion, UNEEK was nev­er about a sin­gle shoe, but rather the idea of estab­lish­ing an entire­ly new plat­form with­in the footwear indus­try,” said Rory Fuerst, Jr., KEENS Direc­tor of Inno­va­tion. This UNEEK Robot­ic cell can pro­duce a shoe in half the time of the cur­rent pro­duc­tion process, which opens up a world of oppor­tu­ni­ty for the UNEEK footwear franchise.

UNEEK’s goal is to reach unmatched lev­els of com­fort. These shoes are cre­at­ed as two ABB IRB 120 robots weave two com­plete­ly inde­pen­dent, inter­lock­ing cords togeth­er to cre­ate an entire­ly new footwear expe­ri­ence. This design is sup­pose to nat­u­ral­ly con­form to the shape of a person’s foot, cre­at­ing unri­valed lev­els of comfort.

The IRB 120 IRC5 is the per­fect, portable robot to inte­grate for prac­ti­cal­ly any job. It is a com­pact, small, six-axis, mul­ti­pur­pose robot that has a pay­load of 3 kg and a reach of 580 mm. It is a true rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the phrase big things come in small pack­ages” as this robot has all the func­tion­al­i­ty of ABB robots and can out­per­form larg­er coun­ter­parts by offer­ing fea­tures not found else­where. The IRB 120 takes advan­tage of the pow­er IRC Com­pact con­troller for extreme accu­ra­cy and motion con­trol in a small­er package. 

With a light alu­minum body, com­bined with pow­er­ful com­pact motors, this robot arm has the abil­i­ty to move with speed and pre­ci­sion. In addi­tion, cables are rout­ed inside the arm to elim­i­nate inter­fer­ence and ensure inte­gra­tion flex­i­bil­i­ty. Floor space is not an issue as this robot has the abil­i­ty to be mount­ed at any angle, mak­ing it ide­al for place­ment into tight spots. This ensures the reduc­tion of the foot­print of robot­ic cells. 

The UNEEK Robot­ic Cell is capa­ble of pro­duc­ing a UNEEK shoe in half the time (with just as much integri­ty!) as the cur­rent pro­duc­tion process. This automa­tion solu­tion offers expan­sive flex­i­bil­i­ty and speed.

UNEEK’s automa­tion suc­cess is a reflec­tion of the way KEEN is able to inno­vate and push new bound­aries to dis­rupt the indus­try. While KEEN has mul­ti­ple ABB robots at its man­u­fac­tur­ing facil­i­ty to han­dle machine tend­ing or mate­r­i­al han­dling appli­ca­tions, the UNEEK cell is not quite ready to go direct­ly on the pro­duc­tion line. How­ev­er, this is just the begin­ning of the automa­tion rev­o­lu­tion for footwear. The robot’s flex­i­bil­i­ty, per­for­mance, and speed will push KEEN, and poten­tial­ly oth­er man­u­fac­tur­ers, to con­tin­ue to explore future automa­tion for a mul­ti­tude of applications.

We appre­ci­ate the inno­v­a­tive appli­ca­tion of robot­ic automa­tion devel­oped by House of Design and KEEN,” said John Bub­nikovich, ABB’s vice pres­i­dent of sales and mar­ket­ing, robots and appli­ca­tions. It is a prime exam­ple of the great dex­ter­i­ty of indus­tri­al robots, and how they can be used for more intri­cate, almost cus­tom work, in addi­tion to han­dling the high vol­ume, rep­e­ti­tious work for which they are main­ly known.”

At Robots​.com, we are ready to help you increase your ROI and move your com­pa­ny towards automa­tion. Robots​.com, a cer­ti­fied inte­gra­tor for ABB, have rep­re­sen­ta­tives ready online or at 8777626881 to address any ques­tions you may have.

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