Robotic tool changers are transforming the robot world by making robot applications more versatile and cost-effective. Tool changers provide industrial robots the capability to automatically switch their EOAT (end of arm tooling) during an application cycle. Robots like the Motoman UP50N can be integrated with a tool changer to enable it to switch tooling such as grippers, vacuum cups, or weld guns. There are two parts that make up a tool changer, a master plate and a tool plate. The master plate is mounted to the robot arm while the tool plate is mounted to the end-effector (EOAT). The two plates are designed to be coupled or locked automatically together, carry payloads, and pass utilities, such as liquids, electric signals, pneumatics, from the robot to the EOAT. Tool changers may also be referred to as a quick change device (QC), robot coupler, or a robotic connector.
Benefits of Tool ChangersRobotic tool changers are a valuable option with a number of benefits when utilized. Some of the key benefits of integrating a robotic tool changer include:
- Speed - Production speed is drastically increased with the use of robotic tool changers. A FANUC M-710ic/50 fitted with a tool changer can switch out tooling in less than a minute as opposed to several hours with manual tool changing. Automatic tool changers allow for quick and easy changing of end-effectors and reduce production delays or downtime related to tooling. Robotic tool changers are designed for high reliability through millions of cycle runs. Increased reliability and longevity keep operations running to further speed up productions as tool changers are designed to keep up with the long runtimes of robots.
- Flexibility - Automatic tool changers allow for more than one EOAT to be used within an application cycle, increasing operation flexibility. Applications are no longer limited because only one end-effector can be used, allowing for the completion of complex applications in one step.
- Efficiency - Robotic tool changers help to streamline operations since one robot fitted with a tool changer can complete multiple applications within a production process. Instead of needing several workers for each application or step, one robot can be used or just a few robots. Production costs are reduced as overhead diminishes. Tooling also becomes more efficient as bulky, heavy multitool EOATs are replaced for slimmer single tools that can be automatically changed. An ABB IRB 6640-205/2.75 can be integrated to perfrom both material handling and spot welding applications. This allows for greater robot speed and for work to be completed within dense or confined production lines.