What’s the Difference Between Offline Robot Programming and Offline Robot Simulation?

FANUC R2000ib 125L R30ia Motoman MA1400 FANUC M710ic 50 Motoman HP6 NX100 FANUC Arcmate 120ic
Offline robot programming and offline robot simulation are both extremely useful tools when it comes to implementing robotic automation. Both are relatively new technologies, but their use is growing quickly as they can improve the implementation process for industrial robots.

Since both deal with the setup of robotic automation and contain the term “offline” they often confused with one another and viewed as sharing the same meaning. However, robotic offline programming and offline robotic simulation are not the same and should not be interchanged with one another. Each serves a different purpose and they can be used in conjunction with one another since their purposes are closely related and beneficial to one another. Understanding how they differ from one another will ensure you choose the right software for your articulated robot and help you determine if both are needed for your implementation process.

Offline Robot Programming

Offline robot programming involves programming an industrial robot using software on an external computer without involving the actual robot. Offline robot programming is often shortened to OLP and is a cost-effective and time saving robot programming method. Many of today’s robots feature offline robot programming capabilities. The FANUC Arcmate 120ic can be programmed offline for welding automation. The FANUC M-710ic/50 also features offline programming functionality for material handling automation.

Offline robot programming is the preferred programming method for complex applications as it can save a significant amount of programming time. Complex applications often involve manually entering several steps with a teach pendant, but with OLP steps do not need to be manually entered individually, simplifying the process. OLP is also best for programming robotic applications with large parts, high part mixes, or low volume productions.

Offline Robot Simulation

Offline robot simulators are typically used as a planning tool where as OLPs are used to create the actual application for a robot. Offline robot simulators consist of software programs that emulate the industrial robot, robotic workcell, and the work environment to mimic real-life scenarios. Offline simulators can be used to test a robot program for accuracy and safety, to optimize an application process through running different modifications, or to determine if an industrial robot will be a good match for a manufacturing process before it is even purchased. For instance, if a company is considering purchasing a Yaskawa MA1440 for welding automation they can create a proof of concept through an offline simulator to determine if the Motoman MA1440 will be the best robot to automate with. Simulating a palletizing application for a FANUC M410ic/185 allows for all bugs to be worked out prior to the application going live for the most accurate robot operation.

Using OLP and Offline Simulation Together

Offline robot programming and offline simulation can be used together. With OLP it is common to also involve offline simulation in order to properly test an application program before uploading it to the robot. Offline simulation does not necessarily always involve OLP as some robot users may test out a robot or application and then use a teach pendant for programming.

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