Manual inspection of a 75-ton turbine is a time consuming, difficult task that takes teams of workers up to two weeks, requires high levels of precision and is prone to human error. Precision and repeatability are the highest priority; however a complex, large-scale geometry defies traditional automation.

MFG Automation of Ashford, CT, is an elite integrator of exotic and one-of-a-kind robotic systems, with an emphasis on demanding, high precision projects. When an application is especially unconventional, MFG is the systems house of choice for reducing complex challenges into simple, reliable solutions.

MFG’s latest project was to develop a flexible robotic based metrology system for detailed precision measurements on a 75-ton turbine. Their solution? A 2-axis Güdel gantry carrying an inverted ABB IRB 4600 robot with a laser based sensor and tracking system. MFG integrated the robot, sensors and controls into a data driven system that is programmed offline in Robot Studio. The Güdel gantry robot expands the robot’s work envelope, allowing complete access to the complex turbine geometry.

“The degree of difficulty for this job, and the fact it mandates absolutely no errors, led to our first system with a Güdel gantry,” said John Phelps, commander, MFG Automation. “As an exclusive ABB integrator, we deal only with the best, and gantries and tracks from Güdel are always on our short list.”

Improved Precision and Faster Cycle Time

The turbine is 16 ft. in diameter and has traditionally been measured by hand, a drawn out and demanding process that can take up to two full weeks with multiple technicians.

One gantry mounted robot system works faster and is more repeatable for each path measured compared to the manual method, reducing cycle times from 14 days to eight hours. There may be 12 or more cycles every time the turbine arrives for inspection, so the improvement in time savings combined with accuracy and repeatability is an order of magnitude.

“Güdel is the global leader in precision linear automation. Gantry robots and robot tracks are Güdel’s main business,” said Joe Campbell, vice president, Güdel US. “We support all robot models, and offer every conceivable size, mounting orientation and configuration. We were happy to support MFG on this system, and consider them one of the best integrators for demanding complex projects.”

Partnership Expedites System Build

For initial testing, MFG had its 300-square-foot work cell in a corner of Güdel’s 45,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Ann Arbor. Now, according to Phelps, chances are good for an even larger follow-on order.

 For more details on single and multi-axis linear motion for robots and automation see the specifications and drawings online at