Robotics News & Insights

4 Tools to Make You a Robot Tech Hero

Written by Aaron Barnes | Aug 31, 2015 3:55:27 PM

When everything is going right with an industrial robot, nobody seems to notice. But when something goes wrong, who do you turn to? Whether it’s the OEM, a contractor or someone at your facility, every operation needs that one tech hero to call. The one who will dive right in and quickly get your operation back to peak productivity.

If you’re the type who likes to tackle problems head-on, it’s easy to become a robot tech hero. All you need are the right tools that can provide you quick diagnostics, guided repair steps, and peace of mind that things were done right. Four essential items can make anyone that go-to person when things go wrong:

1) Uncover the Diagnostic Features in Your Controller Software

Nearly every robot controller software package has diagnostic codes and routines for troubleshooting. These aren’t features that you may use every day, but if you know they exist, they’re easy to find.

One example of a hidden feature that's taught in the DX controller classes at Yaskawa University: When a DX-series controller displays an error code, you can access diagnostic information directly from the teach pendant by pressing the "select" button.

Even if you have a different controller, there's no need to memorize codes, make a call, or hunt around for a feature you're not even sure is there – just access the first tool in your kit: the web. While other robot manufacturers keep their documentation under wraps, Yaskawa Motoman has hundreds of user manuals available for free online. There you can go to the Alarm List section for your robot manual where it explains codes and lists common causes and remedies. Register at the product documentation page of to access the library.

2) Take the Guesswork Out of the Repair Process

So you’ve identified the issue – now what? Once it’s time to open up the machinery, having access to detailed service-specific documentation can save you hours of fiddling and figuring.

Fortunately, there’s some web-based software that offers you step-by-step guides to respond to alarm codes and access/replace parts of your particular robot arm model. The visual guides indexed in a service database like RobotPro® make it easy for you to tackle the most common issues without placing a support call.

3) Make Sure the Fix Doesn’t Create More Problems

Your trusty robot tech hero doesn’t mind getting that first call when something goes wrong. But after service is complete, hero turns to zero if that dreaded second call comes in: The repairs just caused something else to go wrong.

That “something else” often means the robot or tooling is out of calibration – especially after a drive-related repair or replacement. Since the hero’s goal is to restore production to peak, it’s worth some extra time before and after a repair to make sure calibration is restored as well.

No worries, there’s a tool to help with that, too: Calibration software can pinpoint any robot postures that are off baseline, and measure the differences down to a fraction of a millimeter. To get ahead of any post-repair calibration issues that may happen down the road, the hero will first use the tool to measure and record the absolute positioning of a robot in its ideal operating state. That way, you can run it again after fixing a mechanical failure to help restore that perfect calibration. Download the MotoCalV EG datasheet (PDF).

4) When In Doubt, Call For Support

Every good hero needs a trusty sidekick. When in doubt, your robot manufacturer should have a free 24-hour support line, with technically trained staff equipped with their own tools and experience to help.

Even if robot repair isn’t your full-time job, you can still be ready and able when troubleshooting is required. These tools are the same ones used by Yaskawa Motoman’s field service and technical support specialists, but are available to anyone with a Motoman® robot. Having a robot tech hero at your facility can increase the resourcefulness of your organization and bring your system back up quickly – all for a relatively small investment of time and money that potentially yields heroic paybacks.