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Part transfer was one of the first manufacturing processes to be automated with robotics and dates back to the 1950s. It is a type of material handling application that involves the use of an industrial robot to transfer parts or objects from one point to another along a manufacturing line. Part transfer robots can range from the compact FANUC M-10ia to heavy duty options like the FANUC R-2000ib/125L. These FANUC robots can be integrated with end of arm tooling devices such as grippers, vacuums, or magnets to be able to handle a variety of parts.
Although part transfer is one of the oldest robotic applications, it has seen a recent resurgence in the last several years due to advances in robot vision systems. The enhanced guidance provided by visions systems is the driving force behind more industries replacing manual part transfer with Motoman robots such as the Motoman MH50. Vision systems give robots the capability to be able to analyze their target and to be able to adjust their motion if needed. The analysis skills produced by vision systems allow part transfer robots to be able to mimic human movements, but at much faster speeds.
The enhanced speed of part transfer robots helps manufacturers reduce their cycle time. The faster parts are transferred from one step to the next, the faster they can be completed and sent to consumers. Robots are capable of transferring up to 100 parts per minute. With the strenuous nature of repeatedly lifting and moving objects, it is just not feasible for humans to be able to match the throughput rate of robots. ABB robots like the ABB IRB 2600-12 are capable of moving much heavier workloads than workers without tiring. Workers may slow down as they become fatigued and productions may become delayed or stalled. With part transfer robots production lines are kept moving seamlessly and productivity levels increase.
Part transfer robots further enhance manufacturing operations with their precision. Some parts or materials are too sensitive for manual handling. For example, in the electronic industry many parts are extremely delicate and can become damaged if transferred improperly. In the pharmaceutical industry medications risk contamination if handle by humans. Part transfer robots eliminate these risks as materials are always handle with precision to prevent any damage or contamination. The integration of the correct EOAT ensures parts are never dropped or bumped instead they are safely transferred to the correct location. The prevention of damaged or contaminated materials through the use of robots results in cost savings for manufacturers since materials are not wasted.
Replacing manual part transferring with robots not only removes workers from laborious and mundane tasks, but also helps to increase workforce safety. Part transfer robots are designed to handle heavy objects as well as those that are hazardous such as molten metal found in die casting applications. Repetitive lifting, bending, and carrying of large or heavy objects could lead to injury to the worker. Manual transferring of toxic or dangerous materials could also lead to adverse health effects. Industrial accidents are reduced, and companies save on injury claims and labor costs with the adoption of part transfer robots.