Robotics and Automation Part 1: 6 common types of industrial robots and their functions within the manufacturing field
*Feature image source: www.computerworld.com
In the context of manufacturing, robots and automation are used to increase the manufacturing line’s productivity, quality and time management. They are known to work at a constant speed with little to zero downtime (if maintained properly).
This series of articles will explore the various types of robots and automation-related technologies and services that are used within the automotive industry.
Little is known about the various types of industrial robots that are available for use – each with specific functions suited to specific areas within a manufacturing line.
In the first article of this series, we will take a look at some of the most common industrial robots that are used in the automotive industry.
Picture source: www.directindustry.com
Cartesian robots are one of the most common robot type that is used for industrial applications. These are robots are popular due to their high customisability. Elements of the robot such as the stroke lengths, speed and precision can be configured by customers which allows the robots to be flexible in their functions, allowing them to meet specific needs.
These robots are given the name “Cartesian” because they use the Cartesian coordinate system – a 3-axis (X, Y and Z) linear movement system. Its cube-shaped workspace design means that they are best applied to areas of the production line that requires pick-and-place applications or continuous loading and unloading. On top of that, they can be configured with an attached wrist to allow for rotational movement.
Selective Compliance Arm for Robotic Assembly (SCARA) robots
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SCARA robots are all-in-one robots, meaning they are equipped with X, Y, Z and rotary motion. While they are compliant in the X-Y direction, SCARA robots remains rigid in the Z direction, hence the term, “selective compliance”.
SCARA robots are commonly used in assembly operations but are also sometimes used in the same applications as Cartesian robots. SCARA’s single pedestal mount design means that they only require a small footprint to be mounted on. Generally, SCARA robots are faster than Cartesian robots.
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Delta robots are a type of parallel robot that is made up of robotic arms connected to a common base. The arms are designed based on parallelograms which means that the orientation of the end effector (the end part of a robotic arm that designed to interact with the environment) is maintained. Due to the parallelogram design, these robots move in the X,Y and Z positions with no rotations.
Delta robots are mainly used in product packaging as they are quick, delicate and precise. They are also used in product transfer applications like moving parts from a conveyor belt and placing them into boxes or onto another conveyor belt. Other than the automotive industry, delta robots are also commonly applied in the fields of medicine, food and packaging.
Picture source: www.laboratory-journal.com
Cylindrical robots usually consists of two moving elements – rotary and linear actuators. Due to this, they have a cylindrical workspace and is used in areas where both cylindrical and horizontal orientation is required such as spot welding.
Cylindrical robots are also space-economical due to their cylindrical work envelope. The robot can be placed in a compact workspace and, because of its rotation element, can work anywhere around it.
Other than spot welding, cylindrical robots are also applied in the areas of assembly, diecasting and machine tools handling.
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A 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.
This type of robots are 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 a “Safety Monitored Stop” system that allows the robots to halt its operations when it detects human presence within a predetermined safe zone.
Collaborative robots are normally used in situations where the operation cannot be fully automated or requires human-based skills.
Picture source: www.kuka.com
As its name suggests, 6-axis robots are robots that are designed with 6 axes, making them one of the most flexible industrial robots. The 6 axes are:
- Located at the robot base – allows the robot to rotate from left to right and spin up to a full 180 degree range from the centre point
- Located at the lower arm – allows the robot to extend backward and forward
- Located at the upper arm – allows the robot to extend its vertical reach, giving it the ability to raise and lower its upper arm
- Located at the end effector – allows the robot to position and manipulate the end effector
- Located at the wrist – works in conjunction with the fourth axis, responsible for the pitch (bend up and down) and yaw (moving left to right and vice versa) motion
- Also located at the wrist – allows the wrist to rotate freely in a circular motion
6-axis robots come in a range of sizes but are typically very large. This enables them to handle materials, components and parts that are heavy and large in size. They are also extremely fast and have the ability to move with flexibility due to their 6-axis design.
These robots are used in various areas of manufacturing such as assembly, welding, painting, packaging, labelling and material handling.
Stay tuned for the next article in this series where we will explore more elements related to robotics and automation!