Secondary Robot Applications
Most industrial robots are multipurpose machines meaning they are capable of automating several different types of manufacturing processes. The FANUC M-20ia, for example, can be used to automate material handling, material removal, and packaging. However, when most companies implement robotic automation they often solely focus on a single task, neglecting the multipurpose capabilities of industrial robots. By doing so, companies are missing out from taking advantages of the full capacity of their robotic system.
Manufacturing processes can be divided into two categories, primary and secondary. Primary manufacturing processes are those that typically convert raw materials into the general shape and product being manufactured. These may include welding, cutting, casting, or assembly. Most robotic users automate their primary processes but not their secondary ones. Secondary manufacturing processes are those that refine or finish the work of the primary processes. These may include trimming excess material, grinding, sanding, polishing, sealing, painting, or packaging. Many robotic users only use their articulated robots to automate a single task instead of automating both their primary and secondary processes, failing to take advantage of the multipurpose capabilities of the Motoman HP20D and other six axis robots.
Integrating industrial robots with tool changers can allow robots to easily move from performing a primary task to a secondary task. For instance, the ABB 2600 can weld workpieces, quickly have its tooling automatically changed with a tool changer, and then perform a secondary process such as trimming or polishing. Tool changers switch end-effectors in less than a minute allowing robots to quickly transition between tasks. Implementing a robotic workcell will also optimize the automation of both primary and secondary applications.
Benefits of Automating Secondary ApplicationsAutomating secondary applications will further improve your productions with the following benefits:
- • Increased Productivity - Productivity will increase with the automation of secondary applications. Robots quickly transition between tasks, reducing idle time or delays. They are also much faster than humans and can operate around the clock.
- • Eliminate Bottlenecks - When robots are used to only automate primary processes, the rest of your manufacturing cycle will still be vulnerable to bottlenecks. Automating your secondary processes with robots will help reduce or completely eliminate all bottlenecks. Their speed, accuracy, and repeatability eliminate errors, rework, and delays that are often the cause of bottlenecks in manufacturing.
- • Lower Costs - Using a single FANUC M-10ia to automate multiple processes will help to further reduce costs. Less labor will be needed, reducing labor costs such as salaries, benefits, and workers comp. Less machinery will also be needed helping to reduce equipment costs. The accuracy of robots reduces material waste, which cuts down on production expenses.
- • Greater Efficiency - Automating both primary and secondary processes increases efficiency. Using a single robot for multiple applications streamlines production lines, equipment, and costs. While cycle times are decreased as output increases.
- • Higher ROI - Lastly, automating secondary processes will allow for a higher ROI. Users will be able to capture a greater and quicker ROI by taking advantage of the multipurpose capabilities of their robot. Instead of multiple workers or pieces of equipment, a single FANUC R-2000ib/165F can automate several tasks, allowing it to quickly pay for itself through higher productivity, faster cycle times, and reduced production costs.