How auto makers are caring for their next-generation robotic workforce.
by Greg Carter (for Tennessee Industrial Electronics)
Robots for automotive manufacturing have transformed auto assembly lines. Industrial automotive robots for automobile assembly are cost effective, efficient, safe and perform with surgical precision. Here we’ll look at specific industrial robot parts and applications in the fastest growing manufacturing sector.
Auto makers have adopted robot technology faster than all other industries between 2013 and 2015 (source: International Federation of World Robotics). Car makers have installed over 1 million robots globally. Let’s look at manufacturing assembly applications and robot parts that extend the electro-mechanical life of robots.
Shopping for a High-Mileage Robot?
Robots, like the cars they make, can be bought new, pre-owned or you can get yours repaired. To reduce auto assembly equipment costs, manufacturers can choose to replace robot parts with a repaired, refurbished or reconditioned part. Buying a certified, reconditioned robot can save up to 50% over buying new when a robot or CNC machine is down.
Sometimes the factory is retrofitting and upgrading their production line and requests aftermarket spare parts, accessories, and components because they are compatible with the existing equipment. Plus, there are time savings when the OEM has a long lead time for delivery or simply no longer stocks the part.
Robot replacement parts include servo motors, stepper motors, spindle motors, servo drives and power supplies to name a few. Below we review common automotive robotic applications. Let’s look under the hood to see Automotive Robots and their parts in action.
“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking” — Henry Ford —
Looked Under the Hood Lately?
I’m no automation expert, but this stuff is basically pretty cool. So let’s keep it basic and learn what makes a factory tick.
Operator panels in workstations allow remote visual operation and safety for human operators during process monitoring and control of factory robots. A common operator panel application is robotic arc welding or spot welding where extreme heat, shock hazards and gases are present.
Remote robot operators use operator displays for visual contact during automotive assembly. Operator workstations include: CRT Displays, LCD Displays, Plasma and Panel Displays. More recently, collaborative robot adoption is allowing operators and robots to safely work side-by-side for “hand guiding” and “path teaching” applications.
Also called “teach boxes”, these are usually handheld devices operators use to program automotive robots. The robot is put into teach mode, and the operator uses the teach pendant to step the robot through a routine.
Teach pendants for automotive Parts Transfer is one example where robots are programmed for high-speed transfer and assembly of auto parts. In fact, robots with the same sensors and grippers are now being trained to teach one another!
Electric Motors and Drives
relationship between drives and motors:
Drives control the amount of electricity sent to robot motors. The drive receives a signal from the control system and signals the motor to produce motion. The motor in turn delivers mechanical force, or torque.
An example application in robotic drives and motors in automotive assembly is Material Removal. This includes cutting, grinding, deburring and polishing an auto body. You can thank a well-trained robot drive system for that smooth finish on your next new car.
“These Guy’s are Control Freaks”
PCB’s (printed circuit board), commonly referred to as “boards”, connect electrical components using conductive tracks (traces) etched into a laminated board. These guys are control freaks. Robot PCBs are found in Control, Displays, Operator Workstations, and Drive Systems — anywhere robot programming is needed. Second only to their human counterparts, PCBs are “control” freaks and the brains behind automotive assembly operations.
Robot Power Supplies
Power impacts the entire system and must be chosen to meet exact specifications. Robot power supplies you’ll commonly see are batteries, generators, transformers, pneumatics, electric motors and solar power.
Choosing the right robot power supply is critical, especially when it comes to activities that require intense electrical energy. For example, cutting, grinding and welding uses high-voltage output to penetrate, heat and join metal objects. Power supplies keep drives systems and controls running. Robots don’t take breaks, so they consume lots of energy.
Automotive “Bot” Parts Extend Electrical Life
Automating automobile factory operations with robots lowers labor costs, conserves space, improves efficiency and human
operator safety. New robot sales are trending sharply. Aftermarket replacement parts, and robot repair extends robot electrical life and preserves auto makers’ investment now and into the future.
Still, auto makers and automotive robots continue to rely on living, breathing automation equipment technicians to keep FANUC electronic equipment healthy and productive for years to come. Say Hello to Your Next Co-Worker.
This article was written for Tennessee Industrial Electronics (TIE) – fanucworld.com offers robot parts, CNC controls, spindle motors, servo amplifiers, servo drives, robot parts and more to keep automation systems running.