Small Robots vs Large Robots
The demand for robotic automation continues to grow each year. The use of industrial robots for manufacturing has become necessary for companies to stay competitive and combat rising production costs, changing consumer demands, and environmental regulations. As more manufacturers convert to robotic automation there is a particular robot category that has really piqued interest and that is small industrial robots. Even though small robots are currently one of the biggest trends in robotic automation, large industrial robots are not going anywhere. Small robots and large robots each have their own niche in manufacturing.
Payload CapacitySmall robots and large articulated robots can automate many of the same types of applications, the main difference is if the application requires a light payload or a heavy payload. Small robots can automate low payload applications. These are typically classified as load capacities under 20 kg. The FANUC Lr Mate 200ic is a small robot with a payload capacity of 5 kg making it ideal for light material handling automation.
Large robots are designed for heavy payload applications. They will have payloads that exceed 150 kg for the handling of big, heavy workpieces or when heavy tooling is integrated with the robot. The FANUC R-2000ib can also automate material handling applications but for higher payloads.
ReachSmall industrial robots are ideal for when a compact work envelope is needed since they have shorter reaches than large robots. Most small robots will have a reach that is around 1,000 mm. The FANUC M-10ia is ideal for compact work areas with its shorter reach, preventing its arm form interfering with peripheral equipment.
Large robots have longer robotic arms, making them ideal for applications with bigger work envelopes. Large robots may feature extended reaches that exceed 2,000 mm for working in large workspaces or with big workpieces. The FANUC M900ia/260L is a large robot with an extended reach.
StructureThe structure of a robot refers to the type of robot it is. Small robots consist of delta, SCARA, and articulated structures. Their axes may range from three to six axes, depending upon the exact type. The ABB IRb 1200 is a small articulated industrial robot. Delta robots are some of the smallest industrial robots, but they are incredibly fast. The FANUC M-1ia is a delta robot for high-speed pick and place automation.
Large robots mainly consist of articulated structures with four to six axes. Four-axis articulated robots are ideal for automating palletizing tasks. The FANUC M410ib/700 is a heavy lifting four-axis palletizing robot.
FootprintSmall robots feature compact footprints allowing them to operate in narrow spaces or in facilities with limited workspace. Not everyone has the floorspace for large robots, however, small robots make automation possible for facilities tight on space. The compact footprint of small robots provides them with a variety of mounting options besides floor. They can be overhead, wall, or tabletop mounted as well. Small robots can even be integrated inside machines for automated machine tending tasks.
One drawback to large robots is they take up more floorspace because of their bigger footprint. Some robotic manufacturers have started to reduce the footprint of their larger models. For instance, FANUC reduced the footprint of their R-2000i robots with the R-2000id. Due to the size and weight of larger robots, they tend to only allow for floor mounting however there are some track mount robots and gantry sytle robots available.