Automated Material Handling with Robots
Automated material handling (AMH) is a system that uses advanced technology instead of human labor to move, lift, pack, and retrieve products within a factory. The term automated material handling system has a broad definition that references any automation that eliminates human interaction with the material handling process. This can include barcode scanners, conveyors, lifts, and autonomous vehicles. One of the best and most efficient ways to achieve AMH is through industrial robotsindustrial robots
Material handling robots are some of the most common articulated robots. These handling robots can automate a wide variety of material handling tasks. The FANUC M-20ia can locate parts, transfer them, and store them without human intervention. With automated material handling, robots and other pieces of equipment move items throughout warehouses as opposed to using manual labor. The result is a more efficient, accurate, and safer material handling process.
How Industrial Robots Automate Material HandlingTypically an industrial robotic arm designed with material handling capabilities will be selected for handling automation. Most general purpose robots are capable of automating material handling processes such as part transfer, assembly, machine loading, machine tending, packaging, palletizing, picking, and dispensing. Key considerations when selecting an industrial robot will include the workspace, reach, and payload requirements. For light payload and small work envelope material handling applications the FANUC Lr Mate 200ic may be used. While heavier payload processes will require a larger robot such as the ABB IRB 6640.
The type of end-effector integrated with the material handling robot is also important as it allows the robotic manipulator to interact with the workpieces. Most material handling processes will require the industrial robotic arm to be integrated with a gripper. However, some applications, such as robotic dispensing, will require more specific tooling. Factory robots will be programmed to follow specific parameters of the material handling application they are automating. They may be programmed to carry out the task on their own or to interact with other equipment such as conveyors. Material handling robots may be integrated with a track system to cover greater distances in shorter amounts of time. A track system allows the Motoman MH50 to quickly transfer parts from one end of a warehouse to another end.
Reasons to Automate Material Handling with Robots
- • Faster Cycle Times - Eliminating human involvement with material handling speeds up cycle times. Six axis robots provide fast and reliable material handling that is not dependent upon the speed of human workers.
- • Safer Operations - The FANUC R-2000ib/165F is better equipped to handle repetitive lifting than humans. Automating handling removes workers from some of the most hazardous manufacturing jobs.
- • Less Contamination - Reducing human handling of products prevents contamination and allows for a cleaner work environment. This is especially important for delicate or particle sensitive products
- • Better Regulation Compliance - Safety standards put regulations on the amount of weight employees can lift along with other safety measures. Automating ensures companies remain compliant with such standards as robot manipulators are tasked with the hazardous jobs.
- • Higher Throughput - Throughput increases with material handling robots as they can operate at fast speeds and for long periods of time while also not requiring any breaks. More parts are able to move through productions in less time as a result.