Robots can perform many tasks that are done by humans, and they can keep on performing these tasks, shift after shift, without getting tired or taking a break. The type of robot commonly used for shop floor applications is the familiar “articulated robot,” which has jointed arms.
What a robot can do for you
Robots are really good at repetitive tasks. Loading and unloading parts from a machine, for instance, or deburring or polishing the same type of part over and over again. They don’t get bored or tired. They don’t get repetitive strain injuries. And, once programmed properly, they don’t make mistakes. They can take over routine tasks, and allow your skilled staff to do more demanding work.
How to get started
A common first use for a robot in a machine shop is machine tending – loading and unloading parts. Where employees have to handle heavy parts, you may want to provide a robot to do the job and help prevent workers from injuring themselves.
“Typically where robots are coming into use is in material handling applications,” said Tom Rohlwing, vice president of sales, Dane Systems LLC, Stevensville, Mich., an automation systems integrator. “The most justifiable payback is on repetitive runs of like parts.”
A shop’s first robot might be something like the FANUC LR Mate. It’s about the size of a human arm and handles a payload of up to 5 kg (11 lb), said Mike Cicco, account manager, FANUC Robotics America Inc., Rochester Hills, Mich. The robot is lightweight and portable. It can be mounted on a stand with wheels or forklift pockets for easily transport.