Robot Positioning Systems

FANUC R2000ib 125L R30ia Motoman MA1400 FANUC M710ic 50 Motoman HP6 NX100 FANUC Arcmate 120ic
The term robot positioning system is often used to reference a robotic track. Robot positioning systems may also be called a robot transfer unit or RTU. These systems feature a linear track to which an industrial robot is mounted to. These tracks can run just a few feet to allow an articulated robot to reposition itself in a workcell or to move between workstations. They can also span an entire factory, allowing industrial robots to transport workpieces from one end of a manufacturing facility to another.

Most robot positioning systems are integrated with six-axis robots. When this is the case the positioning system is considered the seventh axis, turning the robot into a high-DOF robot. Integrating the six-axis FANUC R-2000ib with a positioning system provides it with an additional axis for linear movement. Robot positioning systems solve one of the limitations of industrial robots which is their lack of mobility. A robot positioning system turns a stationary floor mounted robot into a mobile robot with the ability to move along production lines. These systems make it possible for a single industrial robot to complete multiple tasks within a production process since it can move about a manufacturing facility. Integrating the FANUC M710ic/50 with a robot positioning system allows it to retrieve parts, assemble them, and then package the finished product. With a robot positioning system fewer robots are needed for automation since one can perform several tasks.

Most robot positioning systems are floor mounted. Robot tracks that are ceiling mounted are referred to as gantry systems. Most floor mounted robot tracks come with covers to protect the system from corrosion when not in use. The covers also allow workers to walk along the track for when maintenance is needed.


Robot positioning systems are beneficial to a wide variety of robotic applications. They are ideal for automated material handling, part transfer, or applications involving machinery including injection molding and machine tending. The Yaskawa Motoman HP20D can tend to several machines with a positioning system, whereas without a track it would only be able to tend to one machine. Robot positioning systems can also be used for automating welding, painting, assembly, drilling, and dispensing applications. They can allow robots to be able to work with large parts by expanding their work envelope. An expanded work envelope is also beneficial for transferring parts several feet within a short amount of time.

Why Implement a Robot Positioning System?

Robot positioning systems are a cost-effective way to automate an entire production line. Since they allow robots to travel between workstations to automate multiple tasks, fewer robots will be needed. This lowers the initial cost to automate as well as future maintenance costs.

Robot positioning systems are also ideal for those with applications requiring large work envelopes. Industrial robots in general have long reaches, but there are some workpieces or workspaces that the reach of a standard robotic arm is not enough. Integrating a robot with a track system expands its work envelope to be able to cover greater amounts of space.

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