4 Ways That Robots are Assembled to Meet Customer Needs

Robot researchers and manufacturers use an array of technologies to build an industrial robot that is made to  work efficiently and enhance the operation. Companies large and small have many options when choosing a robot that can perceive branded items, stay clean, and collaborate with people.

Read how different systems are integrated to get the most use possible from a robot and consider what they mean for improving your operations.

Built to Perceive

Object recognition using sensors and cameras are getting more sophisticated. Software now exists that allows an industrial robot to only see parts of an object and pick the right ones. This development is based on how a baby learns recognition.  

A specific use for this technology is in packaging, as described in the article Intelligent Robots: A Feast for the Senses. A robot was shown only the fronts and backs of two different brands of chips and not the whole bag at once. It was able to select and place each brand in the box where it belonged.

"All you're doing is taking a picture," said Joe Cyrek, the vice president of Recognition Robots who was quoted in the article and whose company developed the imaging software. “The human brain also doesn’t need to see the entire item to recognize it. Our guidance system works exactly the same way. We only need to see roughly 70 to 75 percent of an image to recognize it and still guide a robot to pick it up.”

The guidance system is an industrial computer that acts as recognition controller and has a single 2D color camera attached. The camera takes a picture and sends that image back into the software. That's where the patented algorithms of Recognition Robots run. It determines what the object is and where it is in space, in six degrees of freedom.

Creating a robot with perception allows it to work with products of varying sizes, shapes, and brands.

Built for Cleanliness

Robots are better equipped than humans to work in germ-free environments like research labs. Scientists can do what they do best and engage in research while robots can handle high-throughput drug screening consisting of thousands of samples per day.

Staubli robots are an example of providing, clean consistent performance. In the article Robot-Scientist Collaboration (and Separation) in Lab Automation cleanliness is built in to the planning and assembly of the robots.

Everything is enclosed within the robot including the motors, brakes and encoders so it looks like it belongs in a lab. The cables are at the base of the robot instead of out the back, so they are protected. The surfaces can handle different abrasive chemicals or agents to aid when it's time for cleaning.

In pharmaceutical production, as in food production, robots and automation lower the risk of costly and dangerous contamination.

Built for Collaboration

More people are working in close proximity with collaborative robots. Safety features like sensors and servo motors are used in the final product and can create a hard stop or natural movements in slowing to a stop if a person steps into the field of operation.

There are also simple innovations like wrapping a robot's arm with padding that make you stop and wonder, "Why didn't I think of that?".

A cageless robot built by FANUC has a large articulated arm clad in green, soft synthetic rubber that's designed to protect people who might bump into it. The write-up Major Robot OEMs Fast-Tracking Cobots describes it as a cross between a conventional industrial robot and the newer lightweight cobots. It uses built-in force sensors and has a 35-kg payload.

The industrial robot of the future will continue to be manufactured for maximum safety and ease of use.

Built for Microassembly

Assembling microscale components for micro, nano and bio technology requires fast and flexible automatic handling of small components. A small robot is the tool to use.

A Swiss company, Asyril, decided that a technique using parallel kinematic structures was most effective. The article Pocket-Sized Delta Robots states the design keeps "the mass inertia as low as possible [and] all components are kept as delicate and light-weight as possible."

Pocket-sized Delta robots have maxon motors attached to a support frame and the movement is transmitted directly to the structure. This engineering principle has been implemented in an entire range of Delta robots: The “Desktop Delta”, “Power Delta” and “Pocket Delta."

Webinars to help you understand the power and use of robotics are available through the Robotic Industries Association. A webinar on September 24, Robotic Assembly Techniques, notes that robots are more plug and play than ever before, but are all the dots properly connected?

Log on to the robotics.org Webinars page to register for this and other webinars for free.

Browse this and all the industrial automation resources available to you on A3.