Lead Through Robotic Programming

FANUC R2000ib 125L R30ia Motoman MA1400 FANUC M710ic 50 Motoman HP6 NX100 FANUC Arcmate 120ic
Programming is vital to the success of any robotic system as it provides the set of instructions needed for an industrial robot to interact with its environment in order to perform specific tasks. Before a FANUC Arcmate 120ic can weld workpieces together, it must be programmed with the specific commands to be able to accurately complete the application. There are several programming methods used for industrial robots. The most common method is through teach pendants followed by offline programming. Another method that can be used for robotic programming is the lead through method.

The lead through method involves programming industrial robots through demonstration. This method is also referred to as hand guidance programming or the walk-through method. During programming a robot operator will physically move the robotic manipulator through the waypoints of a desired task. Some industrial robots have a joystick attached to their wrist above the EOAT which can also be used to move the robotic manipulator for lead through programming.

This programming method is best for robotic applications involving a continuous path such as welding automation or painting. Lead through programming has declined in use when it comes to traditional industrial robots. The size and weight of the robotic manipulators makes it difficult for robot operators to physically move them through an application path. However, lead through programming has started to make a comeback as many collaborative robots have incorporated the method as their main programming source. The lighter weight and smaller size of cobots makes it easier for operators to physically manipulate the robot arm. FANUC's Cr-15ia is a cobot featuring hand guidance programming. Universal’s cobots also feature this programming method, including their Universal UR10.

Advantages of Lead Through Programming

The main advantage of lead through programming is it simplifies the robotic programming process. Anyone regardless of robotic experience can program using this method. It is considered to be faster than teach pendant programming since it eliminates having to key-in instructions. Users can quickly setup, program, and implement their articulated robot or cobot. Lead through programming is also more intuitive than other robotic programming methods. Since the operator physically moves the robotic arm, applications are demonstrated in the same manner as how a human would perform the task.

Disadvantages of Lead Through Programming

While lead through programming is simple, fast, and easy to learn, it does have some drawbacks. Lead through programming is not suitable for all robot types. As mentioned earlier, traditional six axis robots are moving away from this programming method as their size and weight makes it difficult to physically demonstrate applications. Another disadvantage is this programming method does involve downtime since the actual robot is involved. This means robots must be taken out of production to be programmed which could cause manufacturing delays. This programming method is also difficult for applications requiring precise coordinates or multiple movements in different directions. Moving the robot manually can cause inaccuracies, especially if movements need to be precise. For such applications it is best if coordinates can be keyed-in numerically to ensure the most precise robot operation.

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.