The 3 Most Common Tasks Delegated to Robots in Manufacturing
Posted on Mar 28, 2017 7:00 AM. 3 min read time
Robots have well and truly entered the field of manufacturing, but for many people, their exact jobs and tasks are still a mystery. We have a vague idea of what they do, and a strong concept of how much they benefit the manufacturing industry, but the details escape us.
Whether you’re a plant owner, a worker, or someone in between, join us as we look at the three most common tasks given to robots in today’s manufacturing plants.
3 Jobs Robots Perform in Today's Manufacturing Plants
People will sometimes worry about robots stealing their jobs, but if you see the jobs that robots perform, you’ll realize that these are mundane tasks that humans wouldn’t want to perform anyway.
Here are the three most common tasks you’ll find robots performing in today’s plants, whether they be automotive plants, or something else entirely:
Thanks to the growth of collaborative robotics, the cost of implementing robots into the workplace has gone down significantly. These “cobots” aren’t fenced and come in lightweight models that work alongside people on the production floor.
Their sensor and vision technology allows them to understand when humans are nearby and stop themselves before an accident occurs.
Small manufacturers are incorporating assembly into the fabrication line as costs go down and it’s safer to automate the welding process. By using a program, in conjunction with machine vision, they can increase efficiency and output without having to put distance between the robots and the people.
Robots are also responsible for fixing, press-fitting, inserting, and disassembling products. Assembly robots can put parts together in a consistent manner, and for far longer than humans, and third-party products allow many of today's robots to have their “hands” switched out with specialty equipment.
By using vision system, assembly bots can pick up items from a conveyor belt, rotate it, and fit it with another piece without difficulty.
An American robot company called Adept Technology is known for their SCARA robots that are commonly used in industrial settings. Its name stands for Selective Compliant Articulated. It has three joints in the horizontal part of the robot and one linear joint.
This is combined with a vision system to give it the ability to move products from the conveyor belt to a package at a rapid pace. The joint structure also allows it to change the compliance (or softness) in its force.
For some types of packing, where items are fragile or require a special type of packing, other companies like Rethink Robotics are providing collaborative solutions that can assist humans with packing and improve efficiency through the addition of another worker in robot form.
3. Material Removal
In many cases, manufacturing involves finishing touches that include grinding, cutting, sanding, polishing, or other methods of material removal. Robots can fortunately perform this task as well. They can use abrasive tools to smooth out steel or polish a small piece of metal like the housing for jewelry.
Robotic material removal provides a consistent level of polish, which is excellent for mass production, and removes the need for safety concerns when workers normally work in this type of field. Humans shouldn’t breathe in the dust or fumes that material removal causes, but robots aren’t concerned with this.
They make this possible through the use of force torque sensors that allow them to apply a consistent level of pressure when performing material removal tasks.
Robots in manufacturing take over some of the most mundane and hazardous jobs for humans, and that’s a very good thing. What tasks do you prefer to have automated? Let us know in the comments!