Robotic Applications Trends
Today’s industrial robots are capable of automating just about any production related task. From welding to assembly to material removal, articulated robots are relieving workers of dull, dangerous, and repetitive work. Each year more manufacturers choose to automate with robots as robotic technology advances and makes robots applicable to more production processes. Below is a look at some of the current robotic application trends that are driving manufacturing automation.
One of the biggest robotic application trends has been the push for robot and human collaboration. Collaborative robots or cobots, have made this a reality. Cobots are designed with enhanced safety features that allow them to work alongside humans without any barriers. Rounded edges, elimination of pinch points, and advanced force sensors are some of the features that make them safe to operate around humans. The collaboration of humans and robots dramatically increases productivity. Cobots can take over repetitive, time consuming tasks, freeing workers to focus on more critical processes. For instance, the Universal UR10 can be deployed to retrieve parts for a worker, freeing the worker to focus solely on assembling the parts.
Another trend in the application of robotics is using industrial robots to train workers in skilled labor. Deploying six axis robots for worker training can speed up the learning process and eliminates the need to find a human tutor. There are some skilled labor positions that may not be suitable for complete robotic automation, such as some welding processes. However, with skilled labor shortages it can be difficult to find workers with experience or a trainer. Robotic training systems provide real time feedback. Novice workers are turned into professionals quickly with robotic training.
Increased Task Complexity
Advances in robotic technology has led to more accurate robots with extremely high repeatability. This has made robots capable of performing more complex tasks that require greater precision. Robots are now being used to manufacture delicate products. The FANUC Lr Mate 200id has been used by electronic manufacturers for electronic device assemblies. While the AB 4600 has been used for automating 3D printing. The integration of robotic vision systems and sensors with robots enhances their operation, also making them capable of more complex processes including automated quality control inspections and part recognition.
Low Volume Productions
In the past industrial robot capabilities combined with their cost made them only suitable for high volume productions. At the time high volume productions justified the robot cost, whereas low volume did not. Today’s robots are much more affordable and flexible, making them suitable for automating low volume operations. Multipurpose robots can be programmed for a variety of applications and advances in robotic technology has made it easier than ever to program them. Industrial robots are now suitable for automating specialized tasks where product volumes range in the tens of hundreds instead of thousands.
High Mix Tasks
With robots being more versatile and having integration options such as vision and force sensors, they can take on high mix tasks. These include operations that produce a wide variety of products, working with different materials and part types. Integrating a FANUC Arcmate 120ic with vision will allow it to adjust to part changes in real time. Artificial intelligence and sensor technology allow robots to handle greater variability with each task.
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