How Often do Robots Need Maintenance?
Industrial robots are often implemented to improve product quality, lower costs, and increase efficiency of a production. They can operate in hazardous, demanding conditions and around the clock without any breaks. In order to keep articulated robots running at optimal levels and due to their long periods of operation they require routine maintenance.
Failure to properly maintain your industrial robot can result in poor repeatability, premature wear on external and internal components, position deviation, malfunctions, breakdowns, expensive repairs, and safety hazards. Avoiding robotic maintenance can significantly decrease the lifespan of your robot as well as decrease its potential resale value. Six axis robots that have been properly maintained can operate for decades. Well maintained FANUC Arcmate 120ib and LR Mate 200ib are still used on production lines despite being older robot models.
When it comes to maintaining industrial robots there are two methods, preventative and predictive maintenance. Preventative maintenance is the most common and consists of performing a set of tasks based upon a predetermined amount of time. This amount of time may be based upon the number of hours a robot has accumulated or calendar time. Predictive maintenance is a newer method that is limited to newer robots equipped with predictive maintenance software. Instead of conducting a general set of tasks periodically, predictive maintenance programs alert users when an issue needs to be addressed along with steps to remedy it.
Since most industrial robots are not equipped with predictive maintenance software, users do not have the luxury of being alerted when maintenance is needed. That brings up the questions when do robots need maintenance? It is best to refer to the user manual for your robot as maintenance intervals vary by manufacturer. However, the standard for most is every 3,840 hours unless stated otherwise. The metrics used to determine maintenance intervals can vary as well. Some manufacturers go by the number of operation hours, while others may use run time or servo hours.
Preventative maintenance for FANUC industrial robots is recommended every 3,850 hours or twelve months, which ever comes first. For instance, if your FANUC Arcmate 100ic has less than 3,850 hours but it has been a full year since its last maintenance, another round of maintenance is still needed to ensure proper operation. KUKA industrial robots have preventative maintenance intervals that are more than double those of FANUC robots. KUKA recommends maintenance every 10,000 hours for the KUKA KR16 along with their other robots. Maintenance intervals for Yaskawa Motoman robots falls in between FANUC and KUKA at every 6,000 hours. However, instead of using operation hours Yaskawa Motoman uses servo hours.
As you can see it is important to follow the maintenance intervals recommended by the manufacturer of your robot as they can vary considerably by brand. Going too long between maintenance periods can lead to operating, safety, and mechanical issues with your robot. While conducting maintenance too frequently will result in unnecessary downtime for your robot, hindering productivity. Keeping up with the recommended maintenance for your robot will ensure it remains it good condition.