Extended Reach Robots
One of the main advantages industrial robots have over humans is their longer reach. This longer reach allows them to operate more efficiently, accessing parts and workspaces that would not be feasible with just a human arm. While standard robot manipulator arms on their own provide sufficient length for manufacturing, there are some instances when extra reach is needed. For those instances manufacturers have two options, invest in a track system to mount the robot to or automate with an extended reach robot.
Extended reach robots are articulated six-axis robots with a reach that is usually greater than 2,000 mm. Most extended reach robots have a reach that is over 3,000 mm. Top robotic manufacturers FANUC, Yaskawa Motoman, ABB, and KUKA all produce extended reach industrial robots. The Arcmate 120ic/10L is a popular extended reach model from FANUC.
Extended reach robots are often used for manufacturing processes that require a large work envelope, involve working with larger parts, or for difficult to access parts. Long arm articulated robots can cover a greater amount of workspace without having to upgrade to a larger robot or invest in additional equipment. Extended reach robots can extend the entire length of their arm in any direction allowing for an enhanced range of motion. Some extended reach robots can fully stretch their robotic arm backwards. Long arm robots allow for greater flexibility when it comes to production layouts and applications. Parts are more accessible to long reach robots as they are able to access tight spaces or greater lengths than standard industrial robots.
Extended reach robots can be used to automate many of the same robotic applications as robots with standard reaches. Some of the most common include material handling, welding, dispensing, assembly, and palletizing. Material handling is the most popular application for automating with extended reach robots. The FANUC M16ib/10L can quickly transfer parts from one work station to another with its large work envelope. Automated assembly applications that require difficult to access parts due to confined work areas can benefit from long reach robots as they can reach into narrow or deep openings that other robots may not be able to access.
Even welding automation can benefit from extended reach robots if they involve large workpieces or welding in a narrow space. The FANUC M710ic/20L and ABB IRB 2400L are an extended reach welding robots. The extra length of its robotic arm allows it to weld large workpieces with a single pass of the weld torch without breaks to reposition. This allows for a more accurate weld.
There are many advantages to automating with an extended reach robot. One of the main ones is the large work envelope which allows for a greater amount of work area to be accessed by a single robot and accommodate large workpieces. Extended reach robots increase productivity since they can cover a larger work envelope on their own. Extended reach robots can also be cost-effective as they prevent manufacturers from having to invest in additional equipment such as a robotic track system. They also provide greater length without having to upgrade to a larger robot that may have the reach needed but has a heavier payload than what is necessary and consumes more floorspace.