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Guide to Implementing Industrial Robots

So, you’ve stumbled across our article; we’re guessing that this means you’re looking for information about introducing industrial robots to your business (that, or Google has taken you on a deep dive of the web, yet again).

This article is your no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point guide about the things you should think about before setting out on your quest to achieve manufacturing’s holy grail: automating with robots. We’ll also discuss preventative maintenance (which is a lot livelier than it sounds) and cover the basics of choosing the right robot for your needs. 

So, Let’s get started.

CONTENTS

Chapter One

Do your Research

In this chapter, we discuss the steps to implementing robots in your business

Having a clear understanding of the manual process will lay a solid foundation for when it comes time to designing your future robotic system. That, and investing time into the research phase will save you from the heartache of realising that you’ve developed an automated system for a task that it is unsuited to complete.

Start by drawing a map of the manual cell and record the task schedule. Take pictures and videos and ask the operator/s to verbalise their actions out loud. You’ll also want to capture input information like type/dimensions/weights of the incoming parts and the number of pieces processed at the station.

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Robot Map

Once you have completed your research, use this information to plan the robot cell layout. At this stage you may want to sketch the future robot cell layout and the anticipated task list, keeping in mind that you’re not trying to reinvent the wheel with the new automated system, and it’s OK for the manual and robot processes to have a comparable plan.

Determine the succession of tasks that the robot will perform, such as:

    • How will the parts arrive at the robot?
    • How will the parts leave the robot, and onto the next stage of production?
    • How will the robot fulfil the action?
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Planning the robot cell also means identifying the parts you’ll need (such as the robot, end of arm tools, sensors, safety checks, software and how these will link to the robot). When choosing robots, it is essential to consider:

    • The application that the robot will perform.
    • Consider the weight of the parts that the robot will be handling (keeping in mind that the payload must also factor in the weight of the end of arm tools; like drills, grippers and welding torches).
    • Think about the space that the robot occupies. Consider the robots work envelope such as reach and axes. Generally, 4-5 axes will suit pick and pack applications, whilst 6+ axes are suited to applications where the robot will need to rotate or move linearly to manage tasks.
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Compare

The final research task is to compare the manual and robot task summaries and cell layouts by placing the plans side by side to compare them against each other visually. As you do this, break each task down one by one and identify the most critical and challenging functions.

    • What is the same, and what is different between the two?
    • Is the robot able to handle the incoming parts and perform its task?
    • Does adding a robot improve the process?

Chapter Two

Integrate

In this chapter, we cover the essential elements of constructing the robot cell and programming your robot. We also discuss the options available if you need help with the design and layout of your system.

You’ve researched the manual cell, designed the robot cell and compared the two tasks against each other. Now you will integrate your new robot by assembling the robot cell and writing the program.
The robot cell should be assembled separately to the current production line to prevent any disruption. Start by ensuring all the equipment, parts and tools you require are accessible, build the cell according to your design and be sure to test each component of the cell as you progress.

If you are unsure about this stage, do not be disheartened as there are many companies out there who are ready to help you. In this case, our company has partnered with local engineering companies that can assist with designs and installation as you repurpose your robot to suit the needs of your business. We also offer all parts necessary to create a complete robotic system.

Chapter Three

Operate

Operate phase represents the end goal of deployment: having a productive robotic cell that does its job properly on an ongoing basis.

You’ve installed your robot, but the fun doesn’t end here. You don’t need us to explain the importance of maintaining such a large investment to your business. Still, we will because preventative maintenance ensures your robot will last for years, guarantees high performance, reduces repair costs and will prevent unexpected downtime.

Although it is best to refer to the manual for your specific robot, preventative maintenance is mostly about practising common sense. You will want to keep an eye out for abnormal sounds like excessive vibrations, clean each part of the robot as it becomes dirty (especially fans and ventilators), and check over the components to make sure there is no damage or cranks.

Once in a while, you may want to double-check that there are no twisted cables, tighten loose bolts as they appear and back-up the controller memory just in case. Every so often, you should also check the robot’s repeatability, replace batteries when necessary and lubricate joints, bushing and balancer housing (using only the grease that the manual recommends).

CASE STUDIES

We often associate automation and industrial robots with big business, like car manufacturers Holden and Ford, or Australia’s Arnott’s biscuits. However, automating with industrial robots can help improve the productivity, quality, and safety of any sized business. Read our case study below to find out how BOSS Engineering achieved just this.

This year, agriculture made up over half of Australia’s total landmass. It accounted for 11% of Australia’s goods and services exports in 2018-19, contributed 2.2% to Australia’s GDP and employed 2.6% of working Australians in 2018-19; proving that our agriculture industry contributes significantly to Australia’s prosperity, despite the hardships the industry has experienced through years of drought and extreme weather conditions. 

Local companies like BOSS Agriculture, a division of BOSS Engineering based in the northern NSW town of Inverell, have significantly contributed to Australia’s vital agriculture industry by designing and manufacturing agriculture machinery parts for Australian farmers and conditions in mind. 

In September 2020, BOSS Engineering contacted 4D Controls wanting to integrate industrial robots into their manufacturing process to handle applications such as welding and pick and place tasks; the aim was to improve quality and increase productivity in the products they were producing. 

4D Controls matched BOSS Engineering with 12 x Fanuc R-2000iA-210F heavy-duty industrial robots, suited to applications such as spot welding, part transfer and material removal..

Case Study 1: BOSS Engineering

We often associate automation and industrial robots with big business, like car manufacturers Holden and Ford, or Australia’s Arnott’s biscuits. However, automating with industrial robots can help improve the productivity, quality, and safety of any sized business. Read our case study below to find out how BOSS Engineering achieved just this.

This year, agriculture made up over half of Australia’s total landmass. It accounted for 11% of Australia’s goods and services exports in 2018-19, contributed 2.2% to Australia’s GDP and employed 2.6% of working Australians in 2018-19; proving that our agriculture industry contributes significantly to Australia’s prosperity, despite the hardships the industry has experienced through years of drought and extreme weather conditions. 

Local companies like BOSS Agriculture, a division of BOSS Engineering based in the northern NSW town of Inverell, have significantly contributed to Australia’s vital agriculture industry by designing and manufacturing agriculture machinery parts for Australian farmers and conditions in mind. 

In September 2020, BOSS Engineering contacted 4D Controls wanting to integrate industrial robots into their manufacturing process to handle applications such as welding and pick and place tasks; the aim was to improve quality and increase productivity in the products they were producing. 

4D Controls matched BOSS Engineering with 12 x Fanuc R-2000iA-210F heavy-duty industrial robots, suited to applications such as spot welding, part transfer and material removal..

Case Study 2: Crossmuller

Industrial robots can be repurposed to take on new tasks throughout their lifetime. They are also an affordable alternative to new robots, making them suitable for small to medium businesses who may want to maximise the use they get out of a robot and reduce overall costs of automating manual processes.

From 1989, Crossmuller has grown to occupy five locations across Australian and command six separate divisions including manufacturing, systems integration and automation solutions. Over this time, Crosmuller has worked with well- known Australian companies such as Smith’s Chips, Arnott’s Biscuits and Coles Supermarkets; designing and implementing automation systems that are unique to the requirements demanded by each company.  

In October 2020, Crossmuller approached 4D Controls requiring industrial robots that could be repurposed into production lines to improve efficiency in manufacturing processes. 4D Controls was able to provide 10 x Fanuc R-2000iA-210F; heavy-duty, yet slim-lined industrial robots with large work envelopes that make them perfect for working in confined spaces and for reaching overhead and behind.

Case Study 3: InovaAIR

Automating with one industrial robot can be as valuable to your business as automating with fifty. Learn how InovaAIR improved the productivity of their business with one FANUC R-2000iB-125L, by reading the case study below.

Suppose you were only allowed to describe InovaAIR in one way. In that case, you could begin with the fact that they are an Australian company, that they design and manufacture high-grade air purifiers, or that they have worked with extensive Australian and international companies such as Coca Cola and Hospitals in NSW and Victoria.

However, you might also choose to point out that InovaAIR is a passionate advocate of purified air and the benefits this provides to the health and overall wellbeing of the community. This sentiment rings especially true for today’s times, given the dangers of air pollutants caused by Australia’s bushfire emergencies, airborne transmissions of COVID-19, and poor air conditions for regional areas caused by the daily operations of mines and power stations. 

As InovaAir continues to manage the high demand for their products, the company sought out 4D Controls for a used FANUC R-2000iB-125L to automate the press brake on the manufacturing line at the company’s factory located in Somersby, NSW. The robot which offers fast cycle times, long reach and the highest work envelope in its series, will be used by InovaAIR to assist with increasing the overall quality of their products.

Automating with one industrial robot can be as valuable to your business as automating with fifty. Learn how InovaAIR improved the productivity of their business with one FANUC R-2000iB-125L, by reading the case study below.

Suppose you were only allowed to describe InovaAIR in one way. In that case, you could begin with the fact that they are an Australian company, that they design and manufacture high-grade air purifiers, or that they have worked with extensive Australian and international companies such as Coca Cola and Hospitals in NSW and Victoria.

However, you might also choose to point out that InovaAIR is a passionate advocate of purified air and the benefits this provides to the health and overall wellbeing of the community. This sentiment rings especially true for today’s times, given the dangers of air pollutants caused by Australia’s bushfire emergencies, airborne transmissions of COVID-19, and poor air conditions for regional areas caused by the daily operations of mines and power stations. 

As InovaAir continues to manage the high demand for their products, the company sought out 4D Controls for a used FANUC R-2000iB-125L to automate the press brake on the manufacturing line at the company’s factory located in Somersby, NSW. The robot which offers fast cycle times, long reach and the highest work envelope in its series, will be used by InovaAIR to assist with increasing the overall quality of their products.

Conclusion

One final note as we draw this article to a close: Strengthen your skills over time. You are already aware that technology is dynamic and ever-changing. Suppose you choose to work with an integrator to implement your first set of robots. In that case, that’s great, but don’t miss the opportunity to strengthen your skills to reduce your reliance on external help for sudden breakdowns (God forbid) and future expansion.

Good Luck!

References:

    1. Bouchard, S. (2018). Lean robotics: A guide to making robots work in your factory. Levis, Quebec: Samuel Bouchard.
    2. Preventative Maintenance for Industrial Robots. (2020, June 24). Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.sdcautomation.com/blog/preventative-maintenance-for-industrial-robots/
    3. Preventative Maintenance for Industrial Robots. (n.d.). Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.robots.com/articles/preventative-maintenance-for-industrial-robots
    4. The Institution of Engineering and Technology. Guide to Implementing Industrial Robotics. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.theiet.org/media/2736/guide-to-implementing-industrial-robots.pdf

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