Experiment name: RANCH

Manufacturing end-user: Ophardt Belgien

The Business Sector

The use case focuses on the manufacturing of dispensers for industrial and medical skin protection for the common sanitary use with a special range for soap and disinfectant dispensers.

Ophardt Belgien bvba is part of Ophardt Hygiene, an international company that specializes in all kinds of products that deal with hygiene. Their assortment includes hygiene-technical dispensers for hospitals, industry, households and public sanitary facilities. These include soap and disinfectant dispensers, paper dispensers, waste bins and waste baskets, combination dispensers for soap and paper, toilet paper dispensers and many other products that complete their product portfolio. Naturally, high-quality materials such as stainless steel, aluminium and plastic are used for this. Ophardt also produces plastic refill bottles and dispenser bottles made of polyethylene or polypropylene. Ophardt Belgien is engaged in the production of many of these products (e.g. soap dispensers, trash cans, tissue dispensers, etc.). Anodizing also takes place in Belgium in the Maaseik site. RANCH_main

The Challenge

The most important part of a soap dispenser is the shroud. The shroud is produced starting from a long aluminium profile that is sawn, milled and folded. After the shroud is finished, a surface treatment is done in the anodizing line.


There are two operators working at the end of the anodizing line. One operator racks down the aluminium shrouds and checks the quality of some shrouds. The other operator checks the rest and packs all the shrouds in a box.

The end of the anodizing line is also the most stressing for the operators. First, deracking the shrouds entails grasping the objects above head height and below hip height. Second, there is a quite high variance in judgement between operators when inspecting the shrouds, which in addition puts mental stress on the operators, as this might lead to discussions.

Planned solution:

The planned solution will address the two challenges highlighted above

  • To increase the ergonomics of the operator, we will add a deracking cobot to avoid strenuous tasks. Automating this task is however not trivial as the titanium strip, where the shrouds adhere, is not fully static and can move during deracking.
  • To increase consistency in quality inspection, we will add a vision system that classifies the shrouds using a deep learning algorithm to assist the operators.


Logo Website link
RANCH_imec https://www.imec-int.com
RANCH_sirris https://www.sirris.be/
RANCH_orphadt https://www.ophardt.com