Automation of Small Manufacturing with Industrial Robots
For years robotic automation was only viewed as feasible for large manufacturers. The high cost of industrial robots plus the time needed for setting up and programming could not be justified by those with small to mid-sized operations. Fortunately, advancements in robotic technology have made industrial robots more flexible and adaptable, expanding their application to manufacturers of all sizes. Industrial robots are more intuitive and intelligent making them easier to operate. The development of small robots and collaborative robots has allowed for more affordable options for robotic automation. High demand for robotic automation has lowered the price of industrial robots overall while also growing the used robot market. Now small manufacturers can justify the cost of automating with robots. More and more small to mid-size manufacturers are introducing articulated robots to their factory floors in order to optimize operations, producing higher quality products in less time and with less expense than before.
Several years ago, robotic manufacturers realized the need for small industrial robots. This led to the development of several small robots including the ABB 140 and the FANUC LR Mate 200ic. Today small robots are some of the most popular for robotic automation and have played a big part in the automation of small factories. Their compact footprint and light mass allow them to be easily integrated along production lines in small factories since they do not need much space. Most even allow for a variety of space-saving mounting options such as overhead, tabletop, or wall. Small robots can also be less expensive than standard or large robots.
Collaborative robots have also expanded robotic automation into small manufacturing. The Universal UR5 along with other cobots are easy to use with hand guidance programming for incredibly fast deployments. Cobots can be quickly re-tasked which is ideal for manufacturers with low volumes and a high mix of parts. Their barrier-free operation reduces the amount of equipment needed for more affordable automation. Cobots work collaboratively with humans on tasks, providing employees with an assistant, boosting productivity. Their small size also makes them ideal for confined work areas.
Used robots are a cost-effective means of automating especially for small to medium sized manufacturers that do not have large budgets. Increased demand for industrial robots has expanded the used robot market with more industrial robots now in circulation. Buyers can purchase high-quality second-hand robots for a fraction of the cost of a new robot. Purchasing a used ABB 6640 can save buyers up to 50%. Many used robots for sale have been reconditioned and returned to like new condition allowing them to operate for several more years.
The development of intuitive programming methods has simplified robotic programming with users being able to setup applications with little to no coding. Users of any technical experience level can program and operate robots which is beneficial to smaller manufacturers who may not be able to have an inhouse technician. Hand guidance, offline programming, and smart pendants are all intuitive programming methods that are user-friendly and significantly reduce programming downtime. Intuitive programming creates higher uptimes, increasing productivity, and allowing quick deployments and redeployments of robots. Those with small volumes can quickly reprogram robots, keeping operations productive and costs low.
Robots Done Right is the place to start when it comes to used robots. Contact us if you are interested in buying or selling a used robot.