In an interview with K-MAG, Tim Welters talks about the Automated Lab and the extent to which it relieves employees, accelerates the product development cycle and shortens the time to market for new products.
Mr Welters, you use automated testing machines from ZwickRoell in Henkel Adhesive Technologies' new Inspiration Center Düsseldorf (ICD). What does their work look like?
Tim Welters: In general, our product development staff need large amounts of data, for example from mechanical tests, to evaluate and optimise the performance of our adhesives. To do this, they carry out different types of tests, for example tensile and tensile shear tests at different temperatures or even after passing through hard tests for accelerated ageing. Either our employees prepare the samples in their laboratory and then bring them to the central automated laboratory. Or the samples come from our formulation line, where automated dosing and mixing takes place and at the end, for example, test specimens can be bonded or tensile specimens can be produced.
All parameters and boundary conditions of the test are defined by the employees in our laboratory information and management system and transferred to the automated laboratory. After the test specimens have been scanned and placed in the specimen carriers, the rest of the process is automatic. The robot picks up one sample after the other and inserts it into the test set-up. The control software sets the boundary conditions required by the user and the test takes place. Images of the fractured surfaces are created and the results are finally written back to our laboratory information system. Here, the staff from product development can then analyse and evaluate all the results.