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Aluminium beam components from Hepcomotion’s HDS2 heavy-duty slide range are being used to guide a snake-arm robot from OC Robotics into a confined environment to perform visual and radiological inspection, remote handling, loose-material sampling and waterjet processes at the Sellafield nuclear power plant.

OC Robotics’ snake-arm robots are characterised by their long, slender and flexible design. The 70kg robots are designed to fit through small openings and around obstacles effortlessly, with no prominent elbows to snag or cause damage to sensitive equipment.

The Hepcomotion HDS2 forms the spine of each system on which the rail is mounted, supporting the snake arm both vertically and horizontally.

Key benefits of product application

  • The HDS2 products enable the robots to be easily manoeuvred into position and retracted without disturbing their environment.
  • The Hepcomotion products were chosen as a result of their reliability in nuclear projects, their low maintenance and their cost efficiency.
  • According to Tim François from OC Robotics, the fact that Hepcomotion could precision-machine 4m-long beams meant that the system could be made compatible with the robot frame very easily.
  • François said that the heavy-duty slide range is very easy to maintain, requiring minimal lubricant.
  • Each Sellafield snake-arm robot is mounted to a heavy-duty carriage; François explained that the company required a positional accuracy of 0.1mm but achieved much better, more repeatable results in reality.

Designing a unique engineering principle and making it a commercial success is quite an accomplishment.  Developing that concept and embracing complementary technologies to the point where the business becomes a world leader in its field takes that achievement into a different league.  HepcoMotion has achieved both and in 2009 celebrates 40th year of trading.   

Today HepcoMotion is one of the world’s foremost innovators and manufacturers of linear motion technology.  And this can be attributed to the important tenet – continued investment in its people processes and products.  This has allowed the company to grow even at times of economical difficulty.  

Although its range of individual, linear motion products remains an important part of its business the growth area for HepcoMotion in recent years is in specials and assemblies.  Almost one fifth of its shop floor space is devoted to assembly and the company has invested heavily in flexible manufacturing to ensure that even last minute changes can be accommodated to customer specification.  

Constantly re-assessing its strengths against changing market demands continues to provide HepcoMotion with the momentum for business growth.  The culture of ongoing investment has certainly worked well throughout its first 40 years and will continue to underpin its business in the decades to come.

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