As well as being useful in dealing with chemicals that would be dangerous to humans, robots have their uses in manufacturing industry. On production lines, the same action is done over and over again as part-made products pass along a conveyor belt. This is very tedious for human workers. Specialist robots, which can perform only one action, are ideal for this work, but humans are still needed to control them and to act if something goes wrong, as most robots are not designed to respond to unusual situations.
An industrial robot is a robot system used for manufacturing. Industrial robots are automated, programmable and capable of movement on three or more axes.
Typical applications of robots include welding, painting, assembly, disassembly, pick and place for printed circuit boards, packaging and labeling, palletizing, product inspection, and testing; all accomplished with high endurance, speed, and precision. They can assist in material handling. In the year 2015, an estimated 1.64 million industrial robots were in operation worldwide according to International Federation of Robotics (IFR).
The most commonly used robot configurations are articulated robots, SCARA robots, delta robots and Cartesian coordinate robots, (gantry robots or x-y-z robots). In the context of general robotics, most types of robots would fall into the category of robotic arms (inherent in the use of the word manipulator in ISO standard 8373). Robots exhibit varying degrees of autonomy:
Some robots are programmed to faithfully carry out specific actions over and over again (repetitive actions) without variation and with a high degree of accuracy. These actions are determined by programmed routines that specify the direction, acceleration, velocity, deceleration, and distance of a series of coordinated motions.
Other robots are much more flexible as to the orientation of the object on which they are operating or even the task that has to be performed on the object itself, which the robot may even need to identify. For example, for more precise guidance, robots often contain machine vision sub-systems acting as their visual sensors, linked to powerful computers or controllers. Artificial intelligence, or what passes for it,] is becoming an increasingly important factor in the modern industrial robot.
Arc-welding robots are common in steel production and automobile manufacturing plants. While human operators most often do the preparatory work, robots handle the parts and perform the weld. In addition to improving weld consistency, decreasing cycle times and enhancing production efficiency, welding robots have distinct health and safety advantages. Welding, which involves applying intense heat to connect two pieces of metal, exposes human workers to hazardous fumes and risks of arc burns. Replacing human workers with welding robots eliminates these risks.
Assembly robots are especially common in industries that use lean manufacturing processes. According to the ABB Group, a global power and technology company, an automated assembly line supports lean manufacturing businesses ranging from food processors to automotive manufacturing plants in a number of ways. Robots reduce waste, and decrease both wait and changeover time as they increase accuracy, consistency and assembly line speed. In addition, robots save human operators from tedious assembly line jobs.
Picking and Packing
The faster and more efficiently you can pick and pack products as they come off the assembly line, the better. However, picking and packing jobs require dexterity, consistency and flexibility, which over time can not only tax the health and safety of human workers but also decrease efficiency and speed. Picking and packing robots ensure consistent throughput, a measure of productivity within a given amount of time, which is why picking and packing robots are common in manufacturing industries.
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