With the global pandemic, the last year has been challenging for manufacturers in more ways than one. From a business standpoint, this has prompted many company leaders to maintain tight budgets. However, adhering to a specified number can be difficult if a robot or another piece of capital equipment fails at an inopportune time. To prevent unnecessary downtime and unexpected costs, there are three proactive measures manufacturers can implement right now with their existing equipment to maximize throughput and foster productivity.
#1 – Life Cycle Management
While robots today are extremely reliable, each should have a well-maintained life cycle. From installation to redeployment, and everything in between, manufacturers should follow strict guidelines and maintenance schedules to facilitate peak performance. The need for this high level of functionality has been solidified over the last few months – as the surge in general use products has benefitted from highly reliable robots. Not only has this robot usage effectively addressed pressing production demands, but also, it has facilitated a highly functional and accurate supply chain for a faster multichannel response to consumer needs.
As a result, greater value has been placed on maintaining peak performance at every stage of a robot’s life cycle. To better maintain the needed robot functionality, savvy manufacturers are turning to factory automation monitoring systems like Yaskawa Cockpit™ to better track, accumulate and visually deliver data in real time throughout networked production environments. Systems like this enable data-driven optimized planning (i.e., what parts will be needed in the future) for preventative and predictive maintenance, enabling proactive decision-making for more productive factories.
A large part of executing a solid management plan is having access to a diverse support services group, like Yaskawa Support Services (YSS). Whether 24/7 technical support is needed to diagnose a problem remotely, a field service technician is needed for rapid on-site support or emergency parts are needed around the clock, a committed partner with skilled technicians that is just a call away goes a long way to achieving greater return on investment (ROI).
#2 – Preventative Maintenance
Creating and executing a stringent maintenance strategy that seeks to eliminate breakdowns before they happen is key. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to robot maintenance, performing maintenance at regular intervals can optimize robot performance, yielding transformative results.
In terms of internal robot functionality, items such as the grease level, torque and cabling should be monitored. This will help minimize the deterioration of the asset and maximize robot uptime. Similarly, being proactive with robot maintenance is vital, and when performed regularly (usually every 6,000 servo-hours), it has the potential to keep a robot well-maintained and functioning around a 99% efficiency rate.
Whether a company assumes full responsibility for robot maintenance or relies on scheduled visits from the robot manufacturer via a “holiday” shutdown, there should be a clear plan in place that designates leadership, best practices, inventory strategies and action steps for reaching specific goals.
#3 – Training
Manufacturers that take a DIY approach to robot maintenance should be sure that manufacturer recommendations are followed and proper training is given to those employees in charge of life cycle management. Similarly, anyone that will be utilizing a robot should have a thorough understanding of how it operates, and what it takes to keep it successfully operating. Robot training at an IACET-accredited training facility (i.e., Yaskawa Academy) with hands-on instruction in application-specific classrooms and high-tech welding labs is the best way to ensure robot uptime, worker safety and better ROI. Supplemental training for robot maintenance, troubleshooting and repair can also be gained through user-friendly, yet comprehensive, solutions like RobotPro.
The Way Forward
Remember: fixing a critical asset once it breaks down is not a plan. However, adapting to a new reality and boosting productivity can seem more manageable with careful planning and follow through. If you still have questions or need help with your maintenance needs, feel free to contact our experts today.
Chris Williams is a Senior Manager - Aftermarket Support Services