How Robots Making Choices Boosts Productivity

Success in industrial automation is about finding the solution that best meets the customer's need. It's different than standard automation as we discover in the latest video installment of Why I Automate featuring Compass Automation.

The Need

A company wanted an automated assembly process so they all they had to do was hit a button at the beginning of a shift to assemble raw parts. The entire process would run on its own, so at the end of the shift everything would be assembled.

Compass Automation of Elgin, Illinois put together that type of an automated assembly solution for a client and you can see the process in action in Why I Automate: Compass Automation.

Knowing the customer's end goals and selecting the robot that could best carry out the tasks were critical to the project's success.

The Process

Robots are great for repetitive tasks, but they can also be programmed to adapt to different tasks like handling various sizes of materials. Moving the parts along in the assembly process shows the power of industrial automation. It's an affordable solution for manufacturers of all sizes.

Compass Automation's president, Brian Greviskes, remarked in this installment of Why I Automate that making the assembly process work at what seems like the flick of a switch is because the robot doesn't just act like a machine.

It has to find and handle the right parts in a way that's similar to how humans would function.

The process begins with the robot picking a shaft from the in-feed cart, transporting the shaft to a snap-ring assembly station and continuing on to the assembly press. Other steps include key assembly and gear-bearing assembly.

In the final steps, the robot either moves the part to the out-feed cart or first to the washer and nut station and then the finished assembly is loaded on the out-feed cart.

The Robot

Compass Automation used a Fanuc M-10iA robot, described as a latest-generation six-axis robot. It provides a 10 kg payload and comes "vision ready" with a 2D vision cable integrated through the robot arm. The video shows its range of movement and handling capabilities.

Versatility is important and it can be mounted on the floor, wall, or ceiling and it works well in tight spaces.

The Benefits of Material Handling Robots

Machines of today owe their existence to a life-threatening dilemma from several decades ago. The first material handling robots were made during the Manhattan Project in the 1940s to handle plutonium.

The U.S. government commissioned General Mills to develop a manipulator arm for handling radioactive material to protect scientists. Implementing change can occur slowly but change did occur in manufacturing when the first industrial robot was made and put to work a decade later.

This story and more on today's material handling robots is covered in the article Material Handling Robots in the Mix.

The write-up describes how the robots have vision systems that allow them to unload trucks, move through the aisles of distribution centers and handle the complexities of automated assembly. The robots themselves can be programmed to handle a variety of tasks. They're nimble.

That means a company investing in one can have their payback coming in different ways. It's not just one investment for one specific task. The versatility empowers small to medium size companies to meet customer needs and even diversify into new products or services when necessary.

And see to the Fanuc robot in action on the assembly line, click on Why I Automate: Compass Automation.

Look around A3 to tap into a variety of videos and articles that will help you better understand what industrial automation solutions are the right fit for your operations.