Improving Robot Uptime
Uptime is defined as a measure of system reliability. It is often expressed as a percentage indicating the amount of time a machine has been operating and is the opposite of downtime. In manufacturing uptime is crucial for ensuring higher throughput and productivity. The adoption of industrial robots in manufacturing has allowed manufacturers to achieve higher uptimes. Industrial robots are able to operate twenty-four hours a day without breaks or delays, significantly increasing manufacturing uptimes. The FANUC R-2000ib is programmed to move from part to part without hesitation. Higher uptimes will result in increased productivity, faster cycle times, and lower costs. While implementing robotic automation will improve manufacturing uptimes, there are steps that can be taken to ensure your robot is operating with as little downtime as possible.
While some may believe scheduling preventative maintenance will cause more downtime, the opposite is actually true. Preventative maintenance ensures your robot stays in good condition and that it remains operating at its most optimal level. Routine preventative maintenance eliminates unplanned downtimes due to system failures or robot breakdowns, both of which can cause long delays. Routine maintenance catches issues before they turn into major repairs. Careful maintenance scheduling can be arranged to allow for minimal impact of robot uptimes. There are also predictive maintenance software programs that take the guess work out of scheduling maintenance as well as predict potential failures in advance, preventing unexpected stoppages. Routine maintenance can extend the lifespan of the FANUC Lr Mate 200ic to be able to operate for several years or decades while also increasing its uptime.
Traditional teach pendant programming can be time consuming and takes a robot out of production, causing more downtime. Offline programming is an alternative to pendant programming and is done through a PC outside of the production environment. The Motoman MA1400 is able to continue operating while a new application program is created with offline software. Once the program has been perfected it can be uploaded to the MA1400, saving a significant amount of downtime.
For those using a single robot to automate a sequence of different applications, integrating it with a tool changer can increase uptimes. Robotic tool changers automatically switch out end-effectors, with many being able to do so in under a minute. Integrating the FANUC M-20ia with a tool changer allows its end-effector to be quickly switched from a deburring spindle to a robotic gripper. Time in between robotic applications is reduced, increasing the robot’s uptime.
RTUs or robot transfer units, can increase robot uptimes for part transfer or other automated material handling applications. RTUs allow robots to travel hundreds of feet in just a few minutes, reducing travel time to transport parts.
For automated welding applications cleaning the torch is often the cause of higher downtimes. Manual cleaning methods can take over 5 minutes, which can add up quickly throughout the work day. Robotic reamers automatically clean welding torches at specified intervals, usually every 5 to 15 parts, taking a mere 5 seconds to clean. Using a reamer is significantly faster than manual cleaning, allowing your six axisrobot to spend more time welding.
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.