ANYmal – autonomous mobile robot from combined efforts

The ANYmal robot will be deployed to environments that are hazardous to humans. Manufacturer ANYbotics is cooperating with EMS provider Zollner Elektronik AG for serial production. An optimal solution was found to also be able to produce larger piece quantities.

Due to advancing digitalization, robotic solutions are gaining every more significance, and the fields of applications continue to be further developed. Thus, robots frequently support production in companies and make work easier in the form of driverless transport systems.
ANYbotics, a leading provider of autonomous robotic solutions, has further developed this idea and has a clear vision for it:

The ANYmal legged robot is deployed to environments that may be accessible to humans but could, in some circumstances, be dangerous and should contribute to improvements in safety as well as the efficiency of industrial work. The demand for the legged robot is increasing enormously because ANYmal enjoys great popularity on the market.

Partner for serial production

To be able to concentrate on their own core competencies, like the development and marketing of the robot, ANYbotics searched for a competent production partner with the applicable production know-how with whom they could transfer their product into serial production.

They found this in very proximity: just 30 kilometers away, in Hombrechtikon, sits the Swiss location of Zollner Elektronik AG. The EMS provider, with its headquarters in Bavarian Zandt, has a broad spectrum of services all along the product life cycle and has proven itself to be a capable partner for ANYbotics with its expertise in the production of high-value mechatronic systems. As needed, Zollner offers access to effective and state-of-the-art resources in the areas of development, diverse testing options, a well-developed supply chain and a multiplicity of technologies, which round off the profitable cooperation between the two companies.

“Zollner Elektronik AG offers us a powerful combination of significant expertise, like the production of PCBs, the assembly of a complex product with many single parts and global supply chain management. The local proximity is very significant to us in the current phase of ramping up production with short optimization cycles. But we are also working with Zollner because they are a global player, who can support us in scaling up through the next levels of production volume”, as justification for the collaboration from the ANYbotics Chief Operating Officer, Martin Bühlmann.

ANYmal – the final product from joined powers

The autonomous legged robot moves similar to a canine and masters unexpected obstacles that arise all by itself. ANYmal possesses several cameras and a laser presence scanner for its autonomous mobility and location-finding. Further, the standard equipment for the monitoring of industrial facilities includes a zooming camera with a headlight, an infrared camera, the previously mentioned LiDAR scanner and a microphone. Additional inspection sensors can be installed as needed. A solution-oriented exchange of ideas took place between the companies to achieve this diverse functional scope. Thus, the set goal could be quickly achieved.

The ANYmal system, which is complexly constructed from over 400 individual components and many more software elements, involves a very high level of material demand. Just as production was about to start, there was a tense situation on the procurement market. For that reason, attention was paid in supplier selection to reliable, qualified suppliers to ensure the supply chain. Material procurement is the complete obligation of Zollner Elektronik AG, which has a globally operating purchasing organization and can guarantee material availability.

The introduction of special cells in production makes smooth processing possible. With short throughput times, optimized operating sequences, secure processes, automated population – realized by PCB redesign – and Lean production, an optimal solution was found to also be able to produce larger piece quantities and expand our collaboration.

Next-level partnership as a recipe for success

Thanks to close cooperation between the two companies, with an active exchange of ideas and short feedback loops, challenges were overcome quickly and the proximity to one another represented an enormous advantage in accomplishing it all. Mutual know-how was also unified without differentiating who owns what to transfer the implicit knowledge from ANYbotics research & development into Zollner production.

Through the efficient exchange of ideas, constant adaptation of the technology was able to take place quickly and without problems as a result of insights from global deployment and changes in the supply chain. The same was true for the set goal – serial production. This collaboration on equal terms simplified communication immensely and has an enormous impact on mutual success, which was also emphasized once again by René Bürkler, Managing Director of Zollner Electronics GmbH in Hombrechtikon, while offering an optimistic outlook to the future:

“We are convinced that pioneering innovation arises from close cooperation on an equal footing with our customers. The proximity that makes the personal exchange of ideas as well as the short communication channels with ANYbotics and our own experts in the field possible in all specialist departments is a significant component part of the greatest possible flexibility in serial production. The path has been paved to give evidence, together with ANYbotics of the highest level of innovative power in the area of automation and digitalization, also in the future.”