There are many different types of robotic applications. Advancements in robotic technology have allowed for the expansion of robot application types along with the complexity of those processes. Some applications are more popular than others for automating with robots. Below is a look at the six most common robotic applications.
- Arc Welding - Arc welding processes automated by robots include MIG, TIG, FCAW, and plasma welding. These processes require great skill, precision, and accuracy making robots ideal candidates to take over these tasks. Welding robots are designed to handle hazards that are common with arc welding such as high heat, fumes, and arc glare. Robots can be pre-programmed or guided by a vision system to produce quality welds. The FANUC Arc Mate 120ic is one of the most widely deployed arc welding robots.
- Spot Welding - Spot welding is another welding process that has become popular for robotic automation. This welding method is particularly common in the automotive industry since metals can be bonded together within milliseconds. The ABB IRB 6640 is often deployed on automotive production lines for spot welding car frames. Spot welding robots improve welding accuracy and repeatability through their ability to control the amount of heat applied and their precise movements.
- Assembly - The advancements of robotic technology over the years has caused manufacturers to move away from manual assembly processes to robotic ones. Robots can insert screws, fit pieces together, or disassemble parts with greater speed and precision than humans. The added guidance provided by force sensors and vision allows FANUC M10ia take on more complex assembly processes. Advancements in robotic gripper technology has given robots the capability to manipulate even the smallest of parts without the risk of compromising them. The repetitive nature of assembly tasks is ideal for industrial robots.
- Palletizing - Palletizing is a heavy lifting application that is being widely taken over by robots. Manufacturers have found industrial robots are more suitable for palletizing than using workers or other lifting equipment such as forklifts. Pallets can be too heavy for manual lifting, while lifting machinery lacks flexibility and requires human operation. The FANUC M900ia can handle heavy loads and is adaptable to process changes. Palletizing robots reduce cycle times while improving productivity.
- Part Transfer - Robotic part transfer applications have been around since the 1950s, so it makes sense for them to still be one of the most commonly used robotic applications in manufacturing. Robot part transfer applications are significantly faster than manual processes. Robots can transfer several parts per minute, cutting down cycle times. The highly repeatable structure of these tasks is perfect for a ABB IRB 2600. For longer distances, part transfer robots can be integrated on tracks to cover hundreds of feet within minutes.
- Painting - Industrial painting is one of the most tedious, mundane, and hazardous processes which is why manufacturers began to automate them in the 1980s. To this day painting is still one of the most common robotic applications. Robots are capable of producing smooth, even paint coatings with their precise and steady movements. Painting robots reduce errors such as dripping, overspray, and uneven finishes preventing the waste of materials and costs.