Offline Programming for Industrial Robots

FANUC R2000ib 125L R30ia Motoman MA1400 FANUC M710ic 50 Motoman HP6 NX100 FANUC Arcmate 120ic
Programming is a vital step involved with the implementation process of robotic automation. Programming consists of creating the set of commands or instructions that inform an industrial robot how to perform a given application. In order for users to maximize the benefits of robotic automation it is imperative their robot is programmed correctly. For instance, the FANUC Arcmate 120ic can be used to automate arc welding applications, but in order to carry out a specific arc welding task it must first be programmed.

Offline programming is one of the programming methods commonly used with industrial robots. Teach pendants have been the most popular robotic programming method as they are a key component of any industrial robot and allow for on the go programming. However, offline programming is becoming more common and gaining ground on teach pendants. Offline programming can be used with just about any of today’s industrial robots. FANUC’s M710ic/50 has the option for offline programming as well as Yaskawa Motoman’s MA1400.

Robotic offline programming (OLP) involves using software on an external computer to create a robotic application program outside of the production environment. Unlike teach pendants which use online programming, OLP designs articulated robot programs before involving the actual robot. Robotic offline programming is often confused and interchanged with offline robot simulation software, however, these two are actually not the same. Offline simulation involves testing a robot program outside of the production environment and may be used in conjunction with offline programming. If an automated assembly application is created through offline programming for a FANUC LR Mate 200id, it can be tested prior to being uploaded to the six axis robot through offline simulation which creates a virtual representation of the robot and its work environment.

When to Use Offline Programming

Offline programming can be used for most robotic systems but there are some scenarios where it is more beneficial than other robotic programming methods. OLP is ideal for any complex applications that involve several steps. Opting for offline programming can save significant time since complex applications can involve an extensive amount of manual programming when using a teach pendant. It is also ideal for manufacturing processes involving large workpieces or those with high part mixes. It can also be useful for programming robots operating in low volume productions. The only time offline programming is not recommended is for simple applications with minimal steps as a teach pendant is still best for those.

Advantages of Offline Programming

The advantages of offline programming robots over other programming methods is the reason behind its sudden growth. Programming robots outside of the production environment eliminates downtime associated with programming. It is estimated downtime can be reduced from forty hours to just four hours or by one-tenth. Complex applications can go from taking several weeks to implement to just one day, increasing robot uptime and productivity. With less time needed to deploy a new robotic program, integration costs are decreased which helps to reduce the entire cost of the robotic system allowing for a faster ROI. In addition, when used with offline simulation adjustments can be made to work out all programming bugs before it goes live, ensuring robot accuracy and safety.

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