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Automating Hazardous Jobs with Robots

In manufacturing hazardous jobs are common. Workers are often exposed to extreme temperatures, dust, dirt, and fumes. Not only can the work environment itself be hazardous but also the requirements of the job. Workers may be required to lift heavy parts, handle sharp tooling, or repeat strenuous movements. Worker injuries are common in manufacturing causing labor disruptions along with higher costs for companies. Automating hazardous jobs with industrial robots will alleviate workers from potential safety and health risks while improving manufacturing overall.

When considering implementing robotic automation it is often recommended to automate the most repetitive and hazardous jobs first. Automating potentially harmful tasks with the ABB IRB 1600 or the Yaskawa HP20D has become a big trend in the world of manufacturing. Industrial robot arms are capable of operating in harsh environments and performing dangerous tasks that otherwise pose safety risks for humans. Automating these types of jobs improves the ergonomics of a factory, removing workers from potentially harmful conditions into a more pleasant work environment. Fewer disruptions occur with the mitigation of accidents and injuries, keeping productions flowing smoothly.

Some of the most hazardous jobs automated by industrial robots include welding, foundry work, material handling, and material removal. Both arc and spot welding expose welders to multiple hazards including high heat, heavy tooling, fumes, and chemical reactions. Welding also requires great precision and repetitive passes of the weld torch which could cause stress injuries. Automating arc welding with the FANUC Arcmate 100ic/6L allows for a more efficient process while removing workers from safety risks like hot temperatures and arc exposure.

Foundries contain some of the most hazardous work environments with high temperatures, harsh chemicals, pressure sprays, and extreme dust all common. Short and long term health issues threaten those who work in foundries. Automating foundries with industrial robots is the best way to protect workers from the extremely hazardous conditions. There are even factory robots designed specifically for foundry work. The FANUC M-710ic/50 is one of those robots with a high IP rating and payload to handle the conditions of foundries.

Material handling processes often involve repetitive lifting, moving, carrying, and packaging of parts. The repetitive lifting of heavy objects poses obvious hazards to workers but repetitive lifting or carrying of light items can also be harmful to workers. Stress injuries are common for material handling tasks as repetitive movements can lead to fatigue and muscle strain. The FANUC M-10ia and other robot manipulators are more capable of performing the repetitive movements and lifting of material handling applications, saving workers from back breaking work.

Material removal processes are also some of the most hazardous for workers. Like material handling they often involve repetitive movements but with the added threat of operating sharp or heavy tooling. There is also the exposure to particles, dust, and fumes during the material removal process. Automating with the ABB 4400/45 removes workers from such hazards while optimizing the process overall.

Automating hazardous jobs with articulated robots is the best option for creating a safe work environment. With fewer disruptions and injury claims, manufacturers can lower their operational costs while improving production uptime.

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