*Feature image source: www.manufacturingglobal.com
The automotive industry has adopted robots into their manufacturing sector as early as 1961. Since then, robots have been under constant development until 1970, where the creation of integrated circuit sparked automation. Automation enables circuit-based products (such as robots) to operate on their own with limited to no guidance. Continuous research and development in the robotics sector allowed robots to be designed and engineered to accomplish more complex tasks compared to their predecessors.
The benefits of using robots in manufacturing processes are quite clear. Robots have high levels of accuracy, able to perform tasks at high rates, and can be operated without human presence to say the least.
However, what are the various applications of robots in the automotive industry? Are they only used for carrying large items? Or are they also designed to perform complex tasks? Let’s find out!
Picture source: Reddit
The application of robots in assembly operations is arguably the most common within the automotive industry. Assembly tasks such as screw driving, component installation (eg. Windshield) and wheel mounting are all common applications for robots in the automotive sector. Robots are widely used in assembly procedures due to its high throughput value (the amount of material or items passing through a system or process) compared to a human worker. Besides that, robots also have very high accuracy levels, removing human error out of the equation.
Picture source: www.expansion.com
Collaborative operations are tasks that require both robots and humans to accomplish. Collaborative robot, also known as “Cobot” is a robot intended to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace as opposed to other robots. Besides interacting with humans, collaborative robots are also designed with the capability to work together with other robots on enormous assembly lines.
This type of robots is usually used when a particular process involves a secondary operation that needs to be executed with the presence of a human. For safety purposes, these robots are equipped with “Safety Monitored Stop” system that allows the robots to halt its operations when it detects human presence within a predetermined safe zone.
Check out how the implementation of collaborative robots in an assembly line here:
Part Transfer & Machine Tending
Transferring materials and parts to a required location may sound like a simple task for humans to accomplish but what if it involves molten metal and CNC machines? Handling molten metal is very dangerous as it is very high in temperature while CNC machines are heavy thus requiring a lot of manpower. Robots, on the other hand, can be programmed and designed to perform such operations. When completed consistently with little downtime they can also be a source of shorter cycle times, thus increasing product output.
This process requires complex trimming and cutting tasks. Robots have the ability to follow a programmed path precisely. This trait makes robots an ideal tool for performing tasks like these. Examples include cutting fabrics, trimming plastic moldings and polishing molds. Robots programmed to operate tasks as mentioned above are usually equipped with force-sensing technologies that allow robots to maintain constant pressure against a surface, enabling the robot to trim, cut or polish surfaces evenly.
Picture source: www.electronicsb2b.com
The welding process is arguably, one of the very first tasks that was accomplished by a robot. This is due to their high payload and long reach. Robots designed to operate in welding processes such as Robotic MIG (Metal Inert Gas) has the capability to position the welding torch in the same orientation on every cycle. Its high repeatability ensures every fabrication is welded to the same high standard.
The applications mentioned above covers only a few out of numerous other applications of robots in the automotive industry. Moreover, certain applications also apply to other industries, making robots a cross-industrial product.
To get a visual representation of the various applications of robots in the automotive industry, watch the video below: