Advantages of Automating Routing Processes with Industrial Robots
Routing is a material removal process that involves clearing away excess material to make workpieces identical to one another. Routing processes may also be used to create designs on workpieces. In the past, routing applications have been primarily done either manually or automated with CNC machines. However, both methods have their limitations when it comes to flexibility, speed, and quality. Now many manufacturers are opting for automating routing processes with industrial robots. Robotic manipulators like the FANUC M-20ia can be integrated with a high speed spindle that is fitted with a router bit. They are then programmed to trim away excess material or cut specific designs into workpieces. Robotic routing provides manufacturers with several key advantages. These include:
- • Greater Versatility - Routing robots allow for greater versatility than manual or CNC methods. Manual routing involves a learning curve and training when changes occur, making for much slower turnaround periods. CNC machines are limited to automating only one process and lack the ability to be reprogrammed for new workpieces. Both methods are also limited when it comes to part size. Routing factory robots can work with a variety of part sizes, shapes, and thicknesses. They can also handle a wide range of material types. Should cut patterns change, the Yaskawa Motoman HP20D and other industrial robot arms can be reprogrammed to adjust to such changes. Routing robot manipulators can be deployed for multiple projects throughout their lifetime.
- • Higher Quality - Routing articulated robots increase product quality since they can control all parameters of the application. Cut depth, diameter, and the number of cuts are pre-determined in the application program. The high repeatability of robots ensures all cuts are clean, smooth and without burrs. Errors are eliminated by removing human involvement. Parts will no longer be incorrectly positioned or poorly trimmed.
- • Less Material Waste - The mitigation of errors with six axis robots reduces material waste. Fewer parts will be scrapped with the prevention of errors that often result in the wrong cut being made or the removal of too much material. Reducing material waste is key for ensuring healthy profit margins especially as the cost of raw materials continues to increase.
- • Faster Cycle Times - Cycle times will decrease with the automation of routing with the ABB 2600 and other manufacturing robot arms. Routing robots allow for greater throughput as they have fast operation times with the ability to operate around the clock. Industrial robots are not only fast but also very consistent. They never require breaks or become distracted. With faster cycle times comes increased productivity.
- • Enhanced Safety - Whether you have workers operating a manual router or feeding parts into a CNC machine, there are safety risks. Anytime humans are involved with sharp tooling or heavy machinery accidents and injuries can occur. Automating routing with robots prevents workers from being exposed to such dangers and creates a safer work environment. Work related accidents become rare, resulting in fewer unexpected disruptions to manufacturing.
- • Decreased Overhead Costs - Implementing robotic routing means manufacturers are less dependent on human workers. Fewer workers means decreased labor costs. Factories that run mainly on robotic automation also incur fewer utility costs. Lower costs provide manufacturers with the ability to expand their profit margins.