Manufacturing is at a turning point, and the current pace of technological change is prompting companies to be more agile and efficient while lowering costs and increasing productivity. To withstand competitive pressures and end-customer demands, businesses of all sizes in diverse industries are investing in Industry 4.0 technologies, such as analytics, additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence and robotics to enhance operations and foster growth.
At the same time, with nearly two million jobs on the verge of going unfilled due to talent shortage, these companies are developing strategies to attract, upskill and retain the right people to support long term corporate initiatives. Even greater, is the need for a holistic, easy-to-use solution for robotic automation technology and robot programming.
For Yaskawa, the voice of the customer was clear: non-traditional robot execution methods were needed to help companies work smarter, engaging the current workforce while fostering future growth. This is why our dedicated team of experts created a suite of high-performance robots and innovative technologies that:
Adapts to changing manufacturing requirements
New market dynamics and technological breakthroughs continue to cause disruption, increasing manufacturing complexity. Mass production has given way to mass customization, prompting a growing trend for regionally dispersed facilities to deal with the uptick in product individualization and shorter product life cycles. As a result, lean methods and smart technologies are being intertwined with human-robot process automation to overcome production pitfalls, effectively bridging the gap for high-mix low volume applications.
Facilitates fast implementation of a robot system
Not only does robotic technology need to be robust enough to deal with high demand production, but also it should be engineered in such a way that it is easily integrated with existing automation to facilitate quick and easy implementation of a robot system.
Extremely fast and accurate industrial robots are getting more compact and being designed for easy installation, operation and maintenance. And, highly versatile and portable collaborative robots—that offer four modes of collaboration, including hand-guided teaching—are offering the flexibility, safety and efficiency production environments need for fast deployment and redeployment on demand.
At the same time, six-axis robots that are extremely lightweight and compact are transforming small part processing. Easy to carry and ideal to mount close to workpieces and other machinery in existing lines or cells, small-size robots like the MotoMini are ideal for tabletop-, floor-, ceiling- or wall-mount installations, saving valuable floorspace.
Provides, intuitive robot programming methods
Moreover, intelligent tablet-based teach pendants with leading Human Machine Interface (HMI) features should be used. This allows a “click and program” approach using touchscreen buttons, enabling users to guide the robot via familiar programming commands. Furthermore, intuitive teach pendants should possess built-in technology that adapt to the user’s position, making the programmer the frame of reference. Not only does this eliminate the use of conventional coordinate (X, Y, Z) frames, radically changing the way a robot is programmed, but also it allows easy jogging of the robot for new programmers, while offering a choice with no trade-off in terms of capability for experienced users.
Offers a quick and easy learning curve
Not only does a convenient and familiar programming method aid quick implementation of a robot system, but also it provides a fast, simple learning curve to novice robot programmers. This is especially helpful for manufacturers branching out into robotics, as it enables a wider user group and helps to overcome workforce shortages.
Alleviates upfront investment in robot training
Traditional robot execution typically requires significant upfront investment, as many mid-sized manufacturers and job shops simply do not have employees with vast robot experience. Similarly, companies that fall into this category usually have minimal resources to dedicate to complex capital equipment that does not easily adapt to changing manufacturing environments. Conversely, emerging technologies facilitate fluid interaction between robots and human workers, creating a highly-productive workforce in a timely manner, greatly reducing costs and minimalizing downtime.
Provides no compromise between ease of use and capability
Skeptics may doubt that simplified, efficient technology can increase productivity and efficiency for lasting success, however easy-to-use robotic automation is supported with powerful controller functionality. This type of robust and precise robot control offers no compromise between ease of use and capability, facilitating exceptional robot performance for a variety of inspection, machine tending and other handling applications.
Addressing the ease-of-use factor and designing technology that goes beyond easy programming for both industrial and collaborative robot applications is helping manufacturers overcome production pitfalls. Moreover, Smart Series technology is effectively bridging the gap for a variety of applications including inspection, machine tending and other handling tasks.
Bernardo Mendez is a Senior Product Manager at Yaskawa Innovation, Inc.