Preventing Unplanned Downtime with Robots
While it is nearly impossible to completely prevent downtime in manufacturing it is important for companies to try to limit unplanned downtime to the minimum. Downtime can be costly for both productivity and financially. The longer downtime goes on the more it is going to cost. When downtime is planned companies are able to schedule and budget for it. It is when it is unplanned that can cause significant problems for manufacturing. Identifying the causes behind unplanned downtime and having a plan to address those causes can help manufacturers to limit it as much as possible. Below is a list of common causes of unplanned downtime and ways in which they can be addressed with industrial robots.
- • Manual Labor - Those that rely on manual labor for all or a portion of their manufacturing will experience higher rates of unplanned downtime. Worker turnover, injuries, and illness can cause labor shortages that will disrupt and slow manufacturing. Even when operations are running fully staffed workers can become easily distracted by non-productive activities causing unnecessary downtime. Automating with the FANUC Arcmate 100ic/6L and other articulated robots eliminates unplanned downtime caused by manual labor. Robotic manipulators will run continuously without breaks or delays. They can operate around the clock. Worker shortages become a non-issue as industrial robot arms cannot quit or become sick/injured. With robotic automation operations run consistently allowing for greater uptime.
- • Wear and Tear - Those that have already implemented robotic automation are not necessarily immune from unplanned downtime. While using the Yaskawa Motoman MA1440 for manufacturing will prevent unplanned downtime caused by manual labor, measures still need to be taken to prevent unplanned stoppages or breakdowns. It is normal for robotic components to experience wear and tear, but not properly addressing this can cause unexpected breakdowns. Conducting routine preventative maintenance allows users to identify worn parts and replace then before failures occur. Keeping up with the maintenance schedule of an industrial robotic arm will prevent unplanned downtime related to wear and tear.
- • Poor Factory Layout - Not planning for adequate space for your manufacturing robot arm will not only hinder its operation but can also cause unnecessary downtime. Installing robot manipulators in a high density layout may lead to interference from peripheral equipment, potentially causing the robot to malfunction. Ensuring your handling robot has adequate space to operate will prevent interference. Those with high density factories should consider a robot with a compact footprint or installing collision guard software. The ABB 1600 is a six axis robot with multiple mounting options including overhead, which is ideal for factories with limited floorspace.
- • Programming - While traditional robot programming may initially be planned downtime it can quickly turn to unplanned downtime when it takes longer than expected. Teach pendant programming requires the robot to be taken out of production during the programming process. When issues arise during programming downtime can unexpectedly take longer than initially planned. Investing in offline robot programming software can provident unplanned downtime related to programming. Offline programming is conducted through a computer allowing the robot to remain in production while a new program is being developed.