Modernizing production to stay competitive
La Boule Obut, the leading manufacturer of petanque balls since1955, designs, develops and manufactures these famous steel balls.
The Boule Obut plant in Saint-Bonnet-le-Château produces no fewer than 10,000 competition or recreational petanque balls a day! One of the latest models is the RCX, specifically designed to improve player performance.
In the 1990s, in response to the saturated French market (90% of its sales volume) and competition from low-cost competitors, this traditional SME turned to innovation—both in terms of product development and production processes.
To maintain its competitive advantage and avoid high maintenance costs, La Boule Obut sought to modernize part of its production line while preserving its traditional character and employee know-how.
So in 2012 the company called on Stäubli Robotics for solutions to automate and carry out its quality control processes in accordance with the standards of excellence and precision that have always been the key to its success.
State-of-the-art production line using a high-performance robot
After redesigning and modernizing the workshop, taking into account the essential role of the company’s employees, Stäubli installed the first TX90 robot in 2012 for OBUT’s recreational product line and a second robot in 2014 for the company’s competition line. These pick-and-place robots equipped with quality control sensors were installed right after the welding stations and immediately reduced turnaround times and improved the quality of the petanque balls.
« The welds and geometry of the balls are monitored right from the beginning of the production cycle, explains Pascal Ferragne, workshop production manager. Our operators no longer waste time on this process, which leaves them free to concentrate on other more interesting tasks such as programming the robot. »
Modernizing the production line has also improved working conditions for the operators: The robots handle the heavy lifting and provide more flexibility in rush periods. Using robots has also allowed the company to stay in Saint-Bonnet-le-Château and keep jobs onsite.
« The Stäubli robots breathed new life into our company and gave us a new philosophy, says Pierre Souvignet, president of La Boule Obut. They allowed us to strengthen our strategic positioning vis-a-vis our clients and develop an image based on state-of-the-art technology. »
« Robotics are in keeping with our company’s commitment to performance and quality, a commitment that allows us to produce petanque balls known around the world! »