What Are Some Lesser Known Facts About Industrial Robots?

Industrial Robots

Robotics are precipitating the growth of automated production facilities, freeing human workers from dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks. As robot production has grown at breathtaking speed, costs have gone down, so technology is much more affordable, which is good news considering that manufacturing is looking at countless unfilled jobs.

It’s expected that robots will be fully represented in the production processes of the future. Robots are the central figures of Industry 4.0, and failure to adopt this technology will only cause organizations to be left behind, as their operations won’t be a match for those of their competitors. 

These lesser-known facts about industrial robots will turn you into a hit with your friends. 

They Can Be Programmed Using Any Language 

A computer program enables a robot to interact with the environment, make plans and decisions, and, of course, execute tasks. While each manufacturer has their own robot software, it’s mostly about the manipulation of data and seeing the results on-screen.

A programming language allows developers to deliver instructions, meaning they can control the behavior of the robot; it’s generally written in plain text, so it’s easy to understand. Although there’s a plethora of programming languages out there, VAL and KAREL are the most commonly used ones in the robotics industry. Developers can integrate different sources of information that would otherwise be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. 

VAL, which stands for Variable Assembly Language, is specifically designed to be used for industrial robots, commanding powerful function sets. It can interactively edit, debug, interpret, and store user programs in a setting that supports simultaneous communication and program execution.

Not many know that it’s possible to program a robot using just about any language, such as Python. Python is very flexible, but it doesn’t take errors into account, so it can crash when you need it the most. Matlab is recommended for the development of mobile and manipulator robots, enabling developers to model fine details like sensor noise. 

Several Types of Robots Fall Under The “Industrial Robot” Definition

An industrial robot automates intensive production tasks and can move in several directions. Multiple types of robots fall under this definition, namely: 

  • Articulated robots
  • Cartesian robots
  • Polar robots
  • Collaborative robots
  • SCARA robots
  • Delta robots

It goes without saying that the main selection criterion is the field of application, and each type of robot has its own pros and cons. It’s necessary to decide what will be performed by the robot.

For instance, human and robot collaboration is required in a warehouse, so a collaborative robot is a suitable choice. The machines concentrate more on repetitive tasks, such as inspection and picking, so workers can handle tasks that require decision-making. 

Servo Motors Help Them Achieve Precision Positioning 

Industrial robots are capable of achieving precise positioning over large surfaces of arbitrary size, shape, and orientation owing to Servo motors. A Servo motor is a critical component of motion control, giving the robot more flexibility and ensuring balance when moving around.

It can be defined as a self-contained electrical device that applies torque or force to a mechanical system, allowing for precise control when it comes to angular position, acceleration, and velocity. Equally important is that the Servo motor enables perfect repeatability of motion.

Typical robotic applications include robotic welding (a highly advanced version of welding) and robotic vehicles (cars capable of traveling without human input). 

A Servo motor has the same construction as a DC motor – it features a stator, rotor, and controlling assembly. There are DC Servo motors and AC Servo motors, the former being used in small electronic devices (robotic arms, legs, and rudder control) and the latter in large applications. Correctly sizing the motor is paramount regardless of application, so peak measurement must be calculated.

The good news is there are many software programs available to simplify the selection process, which calculate the torque, speed, and inertia requirements. If in doubt, it’s a good idea to verify the results with the manufacturer or distributor. 

The Automotive Industry Uses the Most Robots

The automotive industry uses robots to increase efficiency and convenience for businesses and consumers alike, offering examples of what’s possible with automation. In what follows, we’ll take a quick look at several applications of robotics. 

  • Painting. The paint job makes a difference in ensuring the car remains in top condition. At present, 10 robots operate in one paint station, used predominantly for interior areas (engine compartments, door entries, etc.). Paint robots were first used in Germany at Mercedes-Benz and BMW. 
  • Assembly. In many plants, robots are used in assembly lines because they’re efficient and accurate. Examples of tasks performed are moving materials, inspecting parts, and assembling smaller components. 
  • Part transfer. Often, engineering teams break complex processes into individual components so as to complete the job faster. These elements can be manual, automated, or both. Robots help transfer parts to individual workstations. 

It’s worth noting that there are several other opportunities to use robots throughout the automotive supply chain. 

Programming Industrial Robots Is Easier Than CNC Machines 

Contrary to popular opinion, programming an industrial robot isn’t complicated owing to the degree of flexibility it offers. What’s difficult is creating a robot that programs to a specification. You don’t have to be a programming expert to get things done, but if you’d like to perform a more complex program, you need advanced knowledge of programming methods and logic.

The CNC machining process is challenging to master, but it might not be out of your reach, provided you understand basic math. While robots are programmed using a programming language, CNC machines are programmed using G-code, very little of which is written manually. 

All in all, artificial intelligence and machine learning will most likely increase human-robot interaction, enabling both parties to perform tasks they’re better suited for. We can expect to see more sophisticated machines incorporated into more industries, reshaping how various sectors do business.

There’s no need to worry that industrial robots will take over human jobs. No one can accurately predict what the future holds, but it’s almost certain robots will augment and complement jobs, so human input will still be necessary for the workplace. 

Industrial Robots article and permission to publish here provided by Trevor Davis. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on January 30, 2023.

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