You may know that robot automation
is the right thing for your business. You may be ready to take the plunge, but the hardest part is still ahead - selecting the right robot. Use these questions to narrow down your choices.
How much do you want to spend?
This is the most important question of all. Before you start your search, know your limitations. Make sure everything is included in your bottom line - finance charges, interest, taxes, even insurance. Then stick to your budget.
Do you have a robot manufacturer preference? Does it matter?
You may have more loyalty to one robot manufacturer than another. Sometimes it makes sense to stick to the familiar - something you understand how to program, or a model that will work with robot systems that already exist in your facility. Just make sure you have a reason for choosing a specific manufacturing company.
Do you need (or just want) a large, medium or small robot?
Consider which robot is best for each application and work environment. If you need the robot to fit in a specific space, that will narrow down your choices. On the other hand, your application may require a robot with a certain payload capacity. You can narrow down your choices just by considering how much weight your robot should be able to handle.
Do you need (or just want) an articulated, gantry, or SCARA-style robot?
Make sure you're considering the right style of robot. Articulated, gantry, SCARA - each robot type has its advantages. Do you need the flexibility of an articulated robot, the precision of a SCARA? Make sure you match your robot to your needs and the physical requirements of your setting.
What type of performance do you need? How important is repeatability, accuracy?
When you go shopping for robots, establish standards. How precise, how fast, how sturdy do you want this robot to be? Much of this will be determined by the application and type of part.
What type of safety environment do you need?
Think through the types of safety features you would like included with your robot - screens, light curtains, sensors, cameras, locks. How much will humans come into contact with the robot?
Does the robot come with a warranty that meet your expectations?
Check into the types of robot warranties that are available. Narrow your search to companies that offer the coverage you need. Determine how long you want your robot to stay under warranty and zero in on robots that meet your criteria.
Is resale/trade-in value a big consideration?
If you plan to resell your robot at some point in the future, you want a brand (and a model) that retains its value. Choose one of the major brands, and go for a newer model.
When you've narrowed your choices down to about six robots, it is time to see the robots for yourself. Try to see the robots in action. Think of it as taking your robot for a test drive. Jot notes down the pros and cons of each model. Now you're ready to make the final decision!