Emerging Applications in Robotic Industrial and Service Blog

Increasing Robot Park Size May Increase Employee Numbers Too!

Posted by Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette on Jan 21, 2015 2:31:00 PM

In North America robots have generally been seen as scary for shop floor workers. Some of them are afraid that robots will steal their jobs. I am not saying that job relocation as a result of automation doesn't happen. In some cases, companies can be badly structured and the introduction of robots results in job lost.  In the following example though, this company has expanded from 0 to 42 robots and has hired 50 new employees during the same time span. 

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Topics: manufacturing, universal robots, human-robot collaboration

Machining with Industrial Robots

Posted by Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette on Nov 23, 2014 8:08:00 AM

The machining world has been using robots for a little while. Mostly to do machine tending. Although, with a lot of technological progress, industrial robots are now ready to do machining. In fact, with processes that must deal with more crazy shapes and differing rigidities, an industrial robot can be a great alternative. 

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Topics: force-torque sensor, collaborative manufacturing, manufacturing, machine tending, cnc machining, vision system

Robobusiness 2014: What is Advanced Manufacturing with Robots?

Posted by Samuel Bouchard on Oct 23, 2014 9:34:00 AM

Recently, during Robobusiness, a Workshop on Advanced Manufacturing was held. As a sponsor of the event, we've put together a little video with some sequences coming from our customers to ask the question: "What is advanced manufacturing?" Is it experts pushing he boundaries of robotics? Or is it making robots accessible for everyone? In fact, the workshop answered mostly the latter question. Many discussions seemed like a flashback from the recent RIA Collaborative Robot Workshop. Here are a few notes and afterthoughts.

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Topics: robotics, manufacturing, Robotics Trends, Robobusiness, advanced manufacturing

Robotics Testbed for Manufacturing - NIST

Posted by Olivier Grenier-Lafond on Sep 19, 2014 2:40:00 AM

What is flexible grasping and manipuation? Can you benchmark flexibility to compare different approaches? These are fundamental questions being studied at NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The NIST robotics' testbed for manufacturing consists of several labs located in three buildings on the main NIST campus. Combined, these serve as a resource for research in robotics for advanced manufacturing and material handling.

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Topics: collaborative robots, manufacturing, 3-Finger Adaptive Gripper, flexible robot grippers

STAMINA Project – Easy to Use Robots are SME’s Future Colleagues

Posted by Olivier Grenier-Lafond on Sep 4, 2014 8:00:00 AM

STAMINA (Sustainable and Reliable Robotics for Part Handling in Manufacturing Automation) is an ambitious industry led automation project looking to handle a wide variety of parts in a manufacturing plant for automotive parts. The flexibility, robustness and ease of integration of the 3-Finger Adaptive Robot Gripper made it the right choice to quickly build a useful test bed.

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Topics: manufacturing, 3-Finger Adaptive Gripper, SME, collaborative robot

Optimize your Manufacturing Production with SMED Techniques

Posted by Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette on Jul 16, 2014 8:00:00 AM

SMED is a manufacturing technique that targets the reduction of setup time for a given manufacturing process. SMED stands for: Single Minute Exchange of Dies. This technique was developed in the printing world so this is why it uses the word 'dies'. This technique though, can be applied to every automated manufacturing process these days and is an important tool of lean production. The SMED has been invented by Shiego Shingo, a Japanese industrial engineer who successfully helped companies reduce their changeover time. One of his books claims to reduce the setup or changeover time by 94% (going from 90 minutes to 5 minutes). This article will give you the key points of this technique, but I really encourage you to read his book to have a deeper understanding of the details involved.

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Topics: manufacturing, kinetiq teaching, automation, education, operation cost, SMED

Robotics in Investment Casting

Posted by Samuel Bouchard on Jul 5, 2014 11:02:00 PM

Investment casting (also known as lost wax casting) is a fairly old manufacturing process. It is used in several industries to produce precise parts with complicated geometries. This post presents an overview of the process as well as several examples of robotic automation solutions and providers.

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Topics: force-torque sensor, industrial robotics, manufacturing, investment casting, FT sensors

How To Choose The Right Robotic Gripper For Your Application.

Posted by Samuel Bouchard on May 25, 2014 9:13:00 AM

Grippers consisting of vacuum cups, pliers, or finger assembly are some of the most common EOATs (End Of Arm Tooling) to be used on industrial robots. To ensure economical and practical success in automation projects, choosing the right gripper is essential. After all, this is where the rubber hits the road. This article focuses on technical factors, from a process and part perspective, that must be taken into account when choosing the right gripper for your application. 

The process: 
What will be done with your robot? Automation projects vary greatly from one to another.
  • The task itself : The tasks to be done by a robot often determine the type of gripper that should be used. A very fast loading/unloading requirement will favor vacuum cups but a slower process will favor pliers or fingers for accuracy. 
  • Cycle time: The speed needed for clamping and/or opening or closing the gripper will determine cycle time. The cycle time will also determine acceleration and resulting G force from the gripper, a heavier gripper will put more G stress on the robot and cause wear on its parts. You must remember that robot specifications for maximum acceleration are calculated by the sum of the gripper weight and the part, so more gripper weight means less weight from the part you handle. In addition to this specification, reach and EOAT weight will determine the resulting torque at the robot base; again we will seek to minimize the gripper weight. This is why many modern grippers favor the use of hollowed aluminum parts.
  • Precision need: Some assembly work will require great precision, a mechanical gripper, actived by servo-electrical motors, would be ideal. Part sorting processes will require gripper adaptability to ensure parts can be sorted, especially those ranging in size or that are positioned differently from each other.
  • Environmental need: Not all gripper types can be used in every process. In the food and pharmaceutical industries for example, hydraulic actived grippers are forbidden since there is a risk of oil spilling and contamination. In many clean room industries vacuum and pneumatic grippers are also not recommended since they can create flow of particles in the air. Grippers used in less clean environments like foundries, machining and welding are exposed to dirt and particles so they must be protected. Corrosive or toxic environments in nuclear or chemical industries also create special considerations for protecting the gripper to ensure its stability and safety of use. In most applications the gripper must be failsafe. Dropping a banana on the floor has no serious effect but spilling chemicals or radioactive materials can be catastrophic and/or toxic in some cases.

The parts: 
Knowledge of the part to be manipulated is crucial in determining which gripper should be used. The main factors are:

  • Size: Except for vacuum grippers, all other grippers need to grip parts with a parallel or angular closing. This means the bigger the part, the more reach gripper fingers will require. In all cases, the gripper must have enough reach to handle parts but not in excess since longer fingers create more torque on the tool and the robot.
  • Shape: The shape of an object will determine which kind of grasp can be done. Flat surfaces can be handled by vacuum or magnet types of grippers while other shapes will be handled by jaw, claws or multiple fingers. When using encompassing or fingertip grasps, calculating finger reach must be taken into account.
  • Weight: To ensure grasping holds, a gripper must have enough force to meet the weight of the part and time the acceleration it can withstand during the process. A designer cannot simply use maximum clamping force since damage to the part or the gripper may occur. 
  • Surface type: The type of surface upon which a grasp will occur will also be an important factor when estimating friction.

Calculation of the clamping force must account for a part's weight, maximum acceleration during the process, surface friction and maximum stress the part and gripper can withstand.

Economic factors: 
In an upcoming piece, I will expose some of the economic arguments for automation projects in various industries.

Conclusion:
This article summarizes that the more adaptability and flexibility provided by a gripper, the better. Adjustment of the clamping position, angle, rotation possibilities and grasping methods will protect your investment from future retooling costs.

How to choose the right robotic gripper for your application?  Learn more here
 
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Topics: gripper, industrial robotics, robotics, manufacturing, robot manipulator

Why Consumable Quality is Important for your Welding Robot?

Posted by JA Carette on May 6, 2014 8:00:00 AM

An article by Rob Centner on welding consumables first appeared in The Fabricator, a trade journal for the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA) out of  Rockford, Illinois. The FMA is a professional organization, which provides the tools, resources, and a community of companies who work together to improve the metal forming and fabricating industry. Since the subject is pertinent to all welding environments, including robotic welding, I thought we should revisit these important aspects of welding.

There are several important areas to look at when considering welding consumables such as:

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Topics: manufacturing, welding, robotic welding, welding applications, welding robots, welding consumables

7 Tips to Improve your Robotic Welding Systems

Posted by Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette on Apr 1, 2014 8:00:00 AM

There are many welding robots and even more applications that can be integrated into your workshop. To get the best welding operations out of your robotic cell, you should be aware of a couple of tips. These tips will enhance your productivity and reduce your downtime for robotic welding applications in industrial automation. Make sure to have the following 7 points working in your welding workshop to make your investment worthwhile.

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Topics: manufacturing, robotic welding, welding applications, welding robots, agile automation