Many enterprises are embracing automation solutions to increase the precision, speed, safety, and productivity of their operations. With the technology available today, you can integrate customized robotics to automate even the most complex applications, from assembling parts and packing boxes to dispensing and materials handling. Upgrading existing systems with automation solutions can help optimize costs, increase volume, improve quality and precision, and make operations safer.
Here are the five most important things to consider when transitioning to robotic automation.
Payload is the total weight put on the end of a robot’s arm, including tooling like grippers and pneumatic devices. Be sure to consider both the maximum weight of your parts and the tooling weight when defining your maximum payload. While robots are rated with maximum payload specifications, you may need to scale up to a larger robot if you’re approaching the upper limit.
For many manufacturing processes, precision is paramount. Optimize your process by balancing precision against other metrics, like speed and payload. But only set placement tolerances (or precision requirements) for your application with the help of a trained robot vendor or System Integrator, as tolerances will affect all aspects of your automation solution.
Cycle time refers to the total time from the beginning to the end of your process. Knowing the number of parts you need to produce each week enables you to determine an appropriate PPM (parts per minute) cycle rate for your automation system. There are several ways to improve your cycle time, including reducing tooling weight, optimizing motion paths, and utilizing multi-headed tooling. Qualified robot vendors or Systems Integrators can help determine the best robots to use for your application and whether or not a multiple robot system would be optimal.
Work envelope refers to a robot’s range of movement, determined by factors like part size and the distance required to move them. Understanding the layout of your workcell and all the parts and components required is essential to selecting a robot with the appropriate work envelope.
Once you’ve identified the core requirements for your process, you can consider additional options for the robot’s component parts. These include: parts presentation (how the parts will get to the robot), vision, end-of-arm tooling (EOAT), factory standards, and base. Experienced tool designers can help you define and build these component parts to optimize stability, precision, and speed.
Download the guide Automation 101: Getting Started with Robotics for additional guidance on balancing these five characteristics for your organization’s ideal automation solution.