Auto manufacturing has been a flagship industry for demonstrating the benefits of using robots in assembly lines. Images of sparks flying from long lines of welding robots are familiar to many people. Often not considered however, is the huge cost savings and efficiency boost that can result from automating the machine loading process.
Machine loading robots save large amounts of back-breaking and monotonous human labor, particularly in the automotive industry where large, heavy, and bulky parts need to be positioned near or in particular production machines very rapidly and precisely for many consecutive hours. In the highly competitive automotive industry, machine-loading robots can be the difference between turning a profit or not.
The Kuka KR series of shelf-mounted robots are a great example of useful automotive machine-loading robots. Robots like these from companies like Kuka, FANUC, and Motoman offer numerous mounting options and payload capacities to fit into any position on automotive assembly lines. Robots like the Kuka KR series can be shelf-mounted, keeping them out of the way of the main flow of products, but still in a position to do their job. They use a variety of grasping implements, from vacuum grippers to mechanical clamps. These are helpful in loading things like sheets of raw aluminum into a robotic press brake, which then stamps out the frame of car doors. The true potential of the product-producing robots like the press brake or welding robots is only realized when coupled with a machine-loading or positioning robot. If human error causes a part to be positioned or loaded improperly for a welding, stamping, polishing, or grinding application the part could be ruined and money wasted.
Automotive machine-loading robots cut costs, increase quality, and reduce part-cycle times by removing the slower and more error prone human from the process. Machine loading robots have the motion accuracy to load a part correctly every time with enough mounting options and payload capacity options to handle any size part in the automotive manufacturing process.