Robot Tank Punching Automation System

Ideal Standard, a leading UK brand in commerical bathroom, sanitary ware and washroom installations, deployed a tank punching automation system to increase output and improve workplace health and safety.

Robot Tank Punching Automation System

The Benefits

  • No need for manual punching, which involves repetitive wrist and shoulder movements
  • Protect workers from potential RSI as well as injuries
  • Consistent quality, with less time and resources required
  • Quick tool changes
  • Highly flexible for a wide range of variants in a low-volume production environment


Ideal Standard is a leading UK manufacturer of commercial bathroom and sanitary ware. In order to improve productivity and solve an employee health and safety challenge, Ideal Standard required an automated punching system that could consistently and precisely preform the punching process.

  • The manual process to be replaced involves a range of 61 variants of tank.
  • Tanks keep warm and relatively soft after being ejected from the clay forming machine.
  • Up to 10 various sizes of holes in different positions need to be punched when each tank still warm and soft.
  • Solution

    The automation solution is comprised of a vision guided robotic system, custom-built punch tooling, conveyors and a control system connected to the factory centralised management system.

    Operation Sequence

    1. The tanks are placed by the casting machine onto the wet conveyor.
    2. The tanks transfer out of the cell onto the dry conveyor.
    3. The central conveyor positions the tank singularly into the hole punching position.
    4. The production management system connects with the robot control system, verifying the tank variant and its punching pattern.
    5. The robot starts the punching operation using vision to confirm the position of the tank
    6. The robot deposits all slugs into the slug chute.
    7. The tank transfers to the outfeed conveyor.
    8. The operator finishes the prep operation outside the robot cell.
    9. The cycle can then be repeated.

    Six punching tools are mounted on stand for the robot to couple with the correct tool.

    The automated system is designed to operate at 1.5 minutes per tank, allowing the punching to take place within the short time window before the clay hardens.

    Videos are available on request.

    APL Skills

    Machine building and integration, machine and process control, special purpose machines, Robot integration, Robotic assembly system, Project management

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