Once relegated to the stories of science fiction writers, robots have now made their way into the real world, and they are becoming integral to our modern way of life. While we do not think we have anything to worry about from these types of robots, we still like to hope they will never figure out a way to become sentient like those machines in the Matrix or the Terminator series.
They may not yet be able to do everything the robot from Lost in Space can do, but they can take much of the physical labor out of manufacturing jobs, making the processes much faster and more efficient, and making goods cost less to produce.
How Robots Are Changing The Way We Work
Robots are revolutionizing the manufacturing processes used for making just about everything. They have turned what used to take hundreds of people hundreds of hours of labor to accomplish into a mechanized task processed at a hundred times what a human being could ever hope to accomplish. These machines are expensive to install, but end up saving companies an incredible amount of money over the long term so their customers will see lower prices.
The freed-up resources also allow for expansion into new territories. With machines that can move so fast and so accurately, new products that were not possible to produce in the past have come to fruition. With these types of robots listed here, virtually anything that can be designed can become a reality.
Uses For Industrial Robots
Robots are used in nearly every facet of manufacturing, but the most widely used types of robots are those involved with material handling. These robots automate the most tedious work in a manufacturing plant. They handle the movement of goods around the manufacturing floor.
Examples of material handling include selecting and transferring parts. These robots can also be used to pack parts into boxes or palletize them. They can even load and unload parts and feed other machines.
The second most common robot used in manufacturing performs the duties of a welder. These types of robots are often seen spot welding and arc welding. They can make much more precise welds than their human counterparts and can repeat the process ad nauseam, reducing the amount of physical and mental fatigue on human workers. They are also quick about their job in relation to human beings, which can significantly increase output.
Use of these types of robots is increasing. Many smaller manufacturing plants are moving to robotic welding, and this change in the industry is bringing down the cost of their goods. Because of their ability to work so quickly, reach so far, and carry such heavy loads, these types of robots are quickly becoming the standard for most welding applications in the manufacturing world.
Another very common use for robots is in the assembly side of the operations. These types of robots can do quite a lot, including fixing parts, press-fitting parts, and even disassembling them. Assembly robots move much faster than a human being can, and they also work with much greater precision. They can also be installed much more quickly than more specialized equipment.
Tools are easily installed on assembly robots, and they can be reconfigured rather easily, making them a great investment for manufacturers with very little risk. Highly versatile, assembly robots can be put to work on many useful tasks, making it easy to re-purpose them when the time comes.
These types of robots are used primarily in the dispensing of liquids or other fluid material such as adhesives. They move quickly and are extremely precise. They are often used with assembly robots.
The design of a dispensing robot is usually based on its use, but typically includes a gantry robot equipped with dispensing components. A computer is used to program this robot for precision, and these robots can be used for contact or non-contact dispensing, depending on how closely they are to the part and the application process needed.
There just is not enough room here to describe all the different ways that robots are being used. Newer applications include material removal robots, new robot inspection systems with enhanced software, and much more. If a process can be automated, there is probably a robot that can do the job. However, this does not mean that there is an endless number of types of robots. Industrial robots can be broken down into five major categories.
5 Types Of Robots For Industrial Use
Sometimes referred to as gantry robots, Cartesian robots are machines that use motors and actuators to position tools. They move on X, Y, and Z axes using physical scaffolding as a framework and anchor. They are one of the most commonly used types of robots in the industrial world, and they are used in a wide variety of ways, from machining high-precision parts to picking bottles from a conveyor.
Cartesian robots are stationary and confined within their framework, but that framework can be mounted in several ways, making this one of the most versatile types of robots.
The second in our list of 5 types of robots, the Cylindrical robot, uses a three-dimensional coordinate system which can specify positions from a reference axis. The robot looks like an arm extending from a center rotary joint and can move in 360 degrees to perform its functions. These types of robots are often used in assembly plants, die-cast machines, and spot welding operations.
SCARAs are one of the types of robots which are mounted on a pedestal. They move in the X, Y, and Z axes similar to the Cartesian robots, but they also incorporate a theta axis where the Z plane ends to allow movement of the end-of-arm tool. SCARA robots are excellent for assembly, able to perform tasks like inserting pins with no binding. The arm is a lever which can limit the reach of these types of robots, and they require high torque motors to extend the arms.
Articulated Or 6-Axis Robots
Articulated or 6-axis robots are one of the types of robots that offer greater directional control. The movements of an articulated robot mimic that of a human arm. It can reach and grab to lay something onto a conveyor and handles many other functions such as palletizing, welding, and machine tending.
Programming such a robot can be a challenge and requires software which can map out the motion of the robot arms in relation to the robot’s first joint axis. Once programmed, however, articulated robots are some of the most-used types of robots in the industrial world.
The last in our list of types of robots is the Delta robot. These robots are used in situations which require light payloads moved at high speeds and are known in industrial settings as spider robots. They are mainly used in situations where products need to be picked in groups and placed inside a container or into assembly patterns. These robots move quickly, picking over 100 parts per minute. This speeds up the process of manufacturing immensely, and the stress and mental fatigue of packing so many parts are taken out of human hands. By sparing humans physical and mental distress, companies save money on healthcare costs.
With so many types of robots in use today, it is no wonder that our options for goods never ceases to expand. They turn the manufacturing process into more than just human beings drudging through the monotony of piecing goods together and turn the process into a dance of gears and motors and of actuators and software to create precisely made goods at a low price.
There is another aspect of these types of robots and what they can do for humans is worth mentioning. There are studies that show they are good for human health. Factory work is repetitive and monotonous, and this type of work can put a lot of stress on a person, both mentally and physically. Getting workers out of the physically demanding positions and into places where they can use their brains instead boosts morale, gives workers a better sense of accomplishment and lowers healthcare costs due to fatigue.
So whether it’s a Cartesian or articulated robot picking and packing goods, a cylindrical or SCARA robot doing the heaving lifting and major welding jobs, or the lightweight Delta robots moving over 100 parts per minute, robots are playing a big part in our world, even if they are behind the scenes. And with ever-improving technologies, the types of robots available will only increase, bringing some the hope that one day soon, human labor will be a thing of the past. Anything that needs doing, you will be able to say, “There’s a robot for that.”
We hope this article has given you a clear picture of the different kinds of robots for industrial use, and how they contribute to material handling, welding, assembly, and dispensing among many other things.