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Knowing When to Retrofit Your Robot

Knowing When to Retrofit Your Robot

Posted: 11/30/2022 7:21:45 PM by Steve Klopfenstein
Topics: Maintenance, Tips and Tools

Upgrading an existing robotic configuration or robotic workcell can go a long way to ensuring maximum performance and return on investment. But knowing when to retrofit is not always clear. With that in mind, here are several concepts to consider when making the decision to add an extra five to ten years onto your original equipment.

Quality and Efficiency
If standards for part quality are not being met where welding is concerned, it may be time to upgrade to a new power source or weld torch. These items can age out and become frail, impacting quality. If this seems to be the case, reach out to the robot or automation system OEM (or integrator). Often a new solution can be decided over the phone – with half of all manufacturers installing the new equipment on their own.

Likewise, many innovative technologies for handling, painting, welding and more can be retrofitted into a current setup to decrease cycle time, optimizing process efficiency. The use of new, higher quality peripherals can also serve to extend robot functionality and asset longevity.
Sometimes, a process change or unfortunate incident will prompt decision makers to make a required upgrade. If this is the case, a risk assessment will most likely be in order, as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) safety standards must be followed with upgrading original equipment. Often, safety PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) are added to replace older safety relays. These PLCs are easier to make modifications to down the road when additional changes are needed.

If you are a lights-out manufacturer, you may want to consider changing key automation components every two to three years. This will ensure that the most energy-efficient equipment is being used, and it will help prevent any unnecessary downtime due to old or broken equipment. All of this works together to save valuable resources.

Optimize Robot Performance

While the reasons for retrofitting will vary, it is always a smart choice to maintain the life cycle of your robot. Keeping a strict maintenance schedule and upgrading when necessary is ideal for achieving optimal return on investment. At times, a complete disassembly, cleaning and rebuild of the robot – where all wiring harnesses and bearings are replaced – may be in order. Either way, our experts are ready to help your company achieve greater success and grow competitive edge.

Steve Klopfenstein is a Senior Manager, Retrofit Systems and Refurb Center at Yaskawa America, Inc. - Motoman Robotics Division

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