An industrial robot is defined as a mechanical machine that is programmed to automatically perform production related tasks in industrial environments. Industrial robots are considered to be a form of flexible automation since they are reprogrammable and can be used for many different types of robotic applications. Robots are growing into the preferred automation choice for manufacturers as they are extremely effective for increasing productivity, producing high-quality products, and reducing costs.
Industrial robots consist of five main components, a controller, sensors, a robotic manipulator, an end-effector, and a drive. The robot controller is essentially the brain of the robot. It is a computer device that instructs the robot how to operate through coded programs. The FANUC R-30ia controller is an example of a controller that can be paired with the FANUC R-2000ib or the FANUC Arcmate 120ic.
Robot sensors may consist of cameras or microphones. They provide robots with environmental feedback within their workspace. The robotic manipulator or robot arm as it is more commonly called, is responsible for moving and positioning the end-effector. In general, the robot arm was designed to mimic a human arm, but they can vary depending upon the type of robot. Robot manipulators are attached to the base of the industrial robot.
End-effectors attach to the end of an industrial robot’s arm and are the devices responsible for interacting directly with workpieces. There are many different types of end-effectors. The type of end-effector integrated with an industrial robot will depend upon the application being automated. A Motoman MA1400 will be integrated with a welding torch for arc welding automation. Lastly, the drive of an industrial robot is the motor responsible for powering it. Robot drives may be hydraulic, electric, or pneumatic.
There are five main types of robots used for industrial manufacturing. These are articulated, delta, SCARA, cartesian, and collaborative robots. The most common is the articulated robot. Articulated robots typically feature four to six degrees of freedom and can come in a wide range or sizes, payload capacities, and reach options. The FANUC Lr Mate 200id is an example of a six-axis articulated robot. Delta robots feature a unique parallel link arm design. They are incredibly light weight and fast. The FANUC M2ia is ideal for light robotic assembly applications. SCARA robots are designed to operate on a single plane with two horizontal joints. Cartesian robots operate along a rectangular work envelope with a linear track system. While collaborative robots, like the Universal UR5, allow for direct human to robot interaction with their advanced safety features.
Industrial robots are used across numerous industries to automate many different applications. The automotive, electronics, aerospace, food, and medical industries are some of the largest users of robotic automation. With advancements in technology, industrial robots are capable of working in high to low volume productions on simple to complex processes. Arc welding, spot welding, assembly, palletizing, material removal, inspection, material handling, and packaging are some of the most popular applications for robots, but the list does not stop with just those. Industrial robots limit the need for human interaction while being able to complete tasks accurately with a high level of repeatability. Industrial robots optimize manufacturing for an overall efficient process.