What is Robotic Programming?

FANUC R2000ib 125L R30ia Motoman MA1400 FANUC M710ic 50 Motoman HP6 NX100 FANUC Arcmate 120ic
Robotic programming is the process of defining specific commands of an application for an industrial robot to automate. Application instructions are inputted to the robot’s control system which then interprets the steps and relays the information in the robot’s programming language to the PLC or microcontroller of the industrial robot. The robot PLC or microcontroller then moves the robot’s actuators (motors), which control the robot axes, according to the commands of the programmed application. Programming is vital to the success of any robotic application. Without programming industrial robots would not be able to automate production related tasks. The FANUC Lr Mate 200ic is able to automate pick and place applications through programming. Regardless of the application type, all robots need to be programmed prior to implementation of an automated manufacturing process.

Programming Language

There is a wide variety of coding languages that can be used to program industrial robots. Most robotic manufacturers have their own programming language for their robots. For example, ABB uses RAPID to program their robots including the ABB 2400 and the ABB 4400. Other common coding language used for industrial robot programming includes C/C++, Python, Java, and C#. These coding languages are used when programming robots through a PC.

In recent years top robotic manufacturers have focused on making robot programming more intuitive. As the adoption of robotic automation grows, manufacturers want to make articulated robots more user-friendly through simplified programming. Robot programming is gradually moving away from using lines of code and transitioning to more straightforward methods.

Programming Categories

Robot programming methods can be divided into two categories; online programming and offline programming. Online programming involves using the robot in order to create the application program. Online programming methods include both teach pendants and lead through programming.

Teach pendants are the handheld devices included with the robot’s control system. It is estimated 90% of robots are programmed through teach pendants, making it the most common programming method for robots. Pendants feature a keypad or touchscreen which is used to enter application instructions or select pre-defined applications. The FANUC M-410ib/160 can be programmed for automated palletizing using its teach pendant.

Lead through programming is mainly used to program collaborative robots. With this method an operator will manually guide the robot arm through the sequence of motions of a desired application. This method is also referred to as hand guidance or walk through programming. Lead through programming is one of the simplest ways to program a robot. It is well suited for applications involving a continuous path.

Offline programming involves developing a program using computer software to write text-based programming language. In the case of offline programming the actual six axis robot is not involved to generate the program. Instead, offline software uses a virtual representation of the robot and work environment. Offline robot simulation. is usually involved to test the application program, allowing for complete optimization. Once a program has been completed, it is uploaded to the robot. Most major robotic manufacturers have developed their own offline software programs. The FANUC R-2000ib along with FANUC’s other robots can be programmed through ROBOGUIDE. Yaskawa Motoman, ABB, and KUKA also offer offline options for their robots.

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