Converting a Manual Process into a Robotic Application
The use of industrial robots has been on the rise for the past several years. According to the International Federation of Robotics, there are over 3 million robots actively deployed across factories worldwide. That number is only expected to continue to increase as more manufacturers turn to automation with industrial robots. Incorporating robots into manufacturing processes allows companies to keep up with consumer demands, reduce costs, improve efficiency, and achieve flexible automation.
Converting a manual process into a robotic application can significantly improve manufacturing capabilities. While the process may seem daunting to some, having a clear plan can ease the transition and ensure a successful deployment in order to capitalize on the full benefits of robotic applications.
When beginning the process of transitioning from manual manufacturing to robotic, it is best to identify and clearly define the task you are looking to automate. You can think of this as the problem you are looking to solve or an area of manufacturing needing improvement. Maybe you are finding cycle times are being slowed down due to your assembly line. As you look into the issue, you discover workers are having difficulty piecing parts together because they are so intricate. Identifying opportunities within your productions for robot automation can help you optimize manufacturing. In the example above, deploying a robot for assembly can solve slow cycle times due to intricate parts. The FANUC M20ia is a proven robotic assembly solution with its fast-operating speeds and precision.
While you are identifying opportunities for robot automation and defining those applications, it is important to determine the exact steps, parameters, and any special conditions involved. This will help you recognize any special features you will need for your robotic application. For instance, if your application requires a larger work envelop then an extended reach robot or a robot integrated on a track would be needed. Or perhaps your work environment is in a food manufacturing facility, in which case a cleanroom robot would be recommended. The cleanroom designated ABB 140 is ideal for cleanroom facilities as it is specially sealed to meet stringent cleanliness standards.
Clearly defining processes that will be ideal for converting to robotic applications will help to narrow down the selections for the robot, EOAT, robotic equipment, and robotic technology needed. This is key for ensuring a successful automation transition and deployment. Many robots can perform multiple types of applications, allowing for flexible and efficient automation. Not all robots can handle all applications and there will be variations based upon the specifics of a process such as payload capacity, reach, and work environment. If your application involves MIG welding, then the FANUC Arc Mate 120ic would be recommended and not the FANUC R2000ib, as it is designed for palletizing and other material handling tasks.
The application type and process will also impact decisions when it comes to the type of robot EOAT, as well as if a robotic workcell, additional equipment, vision system, or force sensors will be needed. Depending upon the goals, requirements, and complexity of your application, additional robotic equipment can elevate and enhance robotic application outcomes.