Multipurpose Industrial Robots
Multipurpose industrial robots are capable of automating several manufacturing applications. It is common for a single industrial robot to be able to perform multiple types of applications. For instance, the FANUC M20ia is capable of automated material handling, robotic assembly, robotic machine tending, and automated injection molding applications. Most industrial robots are considered to be multipurpose with the exception of those specifically designed for robotic arc welding or automated palletizing. However, even some articulated robots that are designed for a specific purpose can still complete other tasks. The FANUC Arcmate 100ic is mainly used for arc welding but can also automate plasma cutting applications.
Multipurpose robots can be configured with four axes, five axes, or six axes. Integrating a multipurpose robot with a tool changer allows for automatic changing of the robot’s EOAT for the ability to complete multiple machining processes without disruption. Integrating a ABB 4600-60 with a tool changer will allow it to automatically switch out a robotic gripper for a vacuum cup in under a minute. Multipurpose robots are capable of completing several steps within a single production process.
Benefits of Multipurpose Robots
- • Efficiency - A single multipurpose six axis robot can complete the same workload that would take several workers to complete. Instead of having a worker for each step of a manufacturing process, one robot is needed. Operations become streamlined with less peripheral equipment and workers required. Efficient operations result in higher productivity, less costs, and improved profit margins.
- • Versatility - Another big advantage of multipurpose robots is their versatility. These robots can be programmed to perform several applications. This is advantageous for the ability to have a single robot perform multiple machining operations within a production cycle or for future manufacturing changes. A FANUC M710ic/50 can initially be used for assembly tasks, but if product line changes occur it can be redeployed for an automated packaging application. Manufacturers can always repurpose robots and are never at a loss when manufacturing changes.
- • Faster Cycle Times - Implementing a multipurpose robot that is integrated with a tool changer can significantly speed up cycle times. Robots operate at fast speeds that allow applications to be completed is less time than with manual labor. Tool changers can swap out end-effectors in less than a minute allowing robots to move onto the next operation immediately. With robots there are no delays, breaks, or distractions. Their long operation times allow for greater throughput which will ultimately speed up cycle times.
- • Cost Savings - Multipurpose robots can save manufacturers a considerable amount on their production costs. Using a single robot for multiple applications eliminates the need for multiple single operations fixed machines. In addition, fewer workers are needed, reducing labor costs. Robots are also incredibly accurate, preventing errors from occurring that result in material waste and increased material costs.
- • Space Savings - Implementing one robot to complete multiple operations will result in space savings. A multipurpose robot eliminates the need to have multiple workstations with several workers, which can quickly become cramped and inefficient. A multipurpose robot will also take up significantly less space than fixed machines that are often large and bulky. Small payload robots like the FANUC Lr Mate 200ic have a small work envelope and do not take up much room.