Making space for small robots in production and assembly

The extensive range of small robots now available can offer the right solution for almost any production application. Users can select models for a combination their reach, load capacity, speed, accuracy actuator (hand), price, and working near people. They enhance productivity, efficiency and safety in almost any environment

Valuing employees

It is getting harder and harder to attract people into the manufacturing sector. Having them perform repetitive tasks does nothing for the employee nor the employer. Moreover, whilst labour costs will continue to rise, the relative cost of automation remains constant, or even decreasing.

Robotics and automation can free up workers, enabling them to join in more productive activities where people excel. Industrial small robots can be at the centre of this move towards automation where they are consistent and dependable. They are easy to install and integrate, offer flexibility, high accuracy and fast movements. Their fast cycle times can also increase productivity.

Small robots can operate in many different environments and across a wide range of industries from food and beverage to assembly lines. Applications are almost limitless and include automotive, electronics, pharmaceutical and food and beverage facilities. Significantly, external devices, such as vision systems, can be connected to the collaborative solutions to develop state of the art applications.

Small robots for workspaces near people

Industrialised small robots do not need large workspaces as many tasks involve manipulating lightweight items, in small areas. For example, Mitsubishi Electric’s RH-CH series of small and economical SCARA robots and the RV series of six-axis industrial robots, can accept the MELFA SafePlus safety system to protect operators. They can operate at high speed when their workspace is clear, but slow down or stop if someone comes near. This does away with the need for a physical safety barrier.

Collaborative robots (cobots)

For applications working adjacent to operators, collaborative robots (cobots) are the answer. They incorporate advanced safety features like limited torque and speed and a function to stop the robot by hand/touch.

One such is Mitsubishi Electric’s MELFA Assista articulated arm. It can share its workspace with humans, thanks to its collaborative functions, such as collision detection. Furthermore, it complies with the international safety and robotic standards ISO 10218-1 and ISO/TS15066.

Programming and integration

The cobot connects with an intuitive, touch-enabled engineering software, RT VisualBox, for the creation of operating sequences without any programming knowledge. The MELFA Assista also offers an additional hand-guided teaching function. Users can manually move the cobot into a position and by pressing a button on the robotic arm add it to the work sequence.

Finally, if integrating your first small robots seems a daunting task, help is close at hand. Many colleges run robotics course and work with local companies. Alternatively, link up with a local Mitsubishi innovation partner.

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