Selecting a Proper Robot

Mar 13, 2013

Automating your production line will help to boost production, improve part handling, and increase overall worker safety. Before choosing the exact robot you will purchase, it is important to consider what exactly your robot will do and what your specific production line needs will be.


Choos­ing to auto­mate a shop or pro­duc­tion line with robots is a deci­sion that should be made enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly, yet thought­ful­ly. Robots can boost pro­duc­tion, improve part han­dling, and free work­ers from back­break­ing and expen­sive man­u­al labor.

There are sev­er­al con­sid­er­a­tions in select­ing a robot, the first being to deter­mine what exact­ly the robot will do. Next, the pay­load that the robot will need to lift must be estab­lished. One cau­tion with pay­load is to be sure to fac­tor in the weight of the end-of-arm-tool­ing (EOAT) in the total pay­load con­sid­er­a­tion. End-of-arm-tool­ing can include imple­ments like grip­pers, vac­u­um grips, welders, or drills. Then the space the robot will work in needs to be con­sid­ered. This includes both how far the robot needs to reach and what its range-of-motion needs to be to effec­tive­ly do the job. Based on that infor­ma­tion, it will be clear if the shop has enough space to accom­mo­date the nec­es­sary robot range-of-motion.

Once the spec­i­fi­ca­tions of appli­ca­tion, reach, foot­print, and pay­load are defined, the poten­tial robot buy­er must con­sid­er bud­get. Bud­get lim­its will define what robot man­u­fac­tur­er to shop for as well as whether a new or refur­bished refur­bished robot should be considered.

A good exam­ple of how to choose the right robot(s) is the Men­nie Machine Com­pa­ny of Mark, Illi­nois. The Men­nie Machine Com­pa­ny spe­cial­izes in high qual­i­ty machined cast­ings and forg­ings for the auto­mo­tive and con­struc­tion mar­ket. Mennie’s deci­sion to auto­mate its pro­duc­tion took into account the fact that it had rel­a­tive­ly heavy and awk­ward parts that are ide­al can­di­dates for automation.

In select­ing a robot type, Mennie’s had to con­sid­er sev­er­al fac­tors. First, they had to deter­mine how far the robots need­ed to reach, how they need­ed to move, and what they had to pick up or han­dle. Sec­ond, they had to deter­mine if they had the space for the robots to be able to move and if they could even be mount­ed in the way that Mennie’s need­ed. Last­ly, they had to deter­mine what kind of dex­ter­i­ty and grip­per type the robots need­ed to have to appro­pri­ate­ly han­dle the parts. With all of these fac­tors con­sid­ered, Mennie’s select­ed the Fanuc M‑6i, M‑16i, S‑430iFand LR Mate 100i.

The Men­nie Machine Com­pa­ny was able to choose the right robot to auto­mate sev­er­al com­plex process­es from drilling, to heat-treat­ing, and grind­ing. Mennie’s robot selec­tion was effec­tive because it con­sid­ered what kind of part each Fanuc robot would need to be work­ing with and made sure to select the right robot with enough grip­ping or machin­ing attach­ment options to assure the job could be done. In Mennie’s process, the M‑6i and M‑16i robots, capa­ble of lift­ing 13.2 lbs and 35 lbs respec­tive­ly, pri­mar­i­ly load and unload met­al parts into a series of dif­fer­ent lath­es, drillers and rollers. The S‑430iF, capa­ble of lift­ing 286 lbs, then sequen­tial­ly loads and unloads pal­lets of the parts into and out of four machines that per­form var­i­ous groove and ream operations.

Mennie’s also made sure the robot cells would be eas­i­ly acces­si­ble by fork trucks or con­vey­ors for prod­uct move­ment and for robot main­te­nance. Over­all, Mennie’s was able to increase its machine uptime by 15% and cut pro­duc­tion costs by 25% because they chose the right robots for their pro­duc­tion line. Clear­ly, once the deci­sion to auto­mate a shop is made, the most impor­tant thing is select­ing the prop­er robot(s) to accom­plish the task at hand.

For more infor­ma­tion on choos­ing the right robot, con­tact Robots​.com rep­re­sen­ta­tives online or at 8777626881.

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