Controls add to robotic flexibility, application diversity; photo gallery

Original equipment manufacturers are starting to run robotics with off-the-shelf controls. Even large robot manufacturers are adopting the use of embedded nonproprietary software. Tutorial, robotic photo gallery, useful links follow.


ABB robotics

ABB offers a long line of robotics, a sampling shown here.

Original equipment manufacturers are starting to run robotics with off-the-shelf controls—even large robot manufacturers are adopting the use of embedded nonproprietary software, says Dan Throne, sales and marketing manager, Bosch Rexroth Corp .– Electric Drives and Controls. “That development promises to expand the world of robotics applications more quickly than ever in the next few years.”
For instance, Bosch Rexroth IndraControl MLC uses standard IEC programming to run kinematics for hundreds of different types of robots and offers an all Ethernet-based interface for drives, I/O connections, HMIs, safety, and vision systems, Throne says.
Robot formats
Just as there are multiple tools in a tool box, multiple robotic formats exist because they each have strengths that are suited to different application requirements, says John Good, director of marketing, Linear Motion Solutions Business, Rockwell Automation . For programming, Good says, there’s a growing trend among machine builders towards incorporating robot kinematics directly into the system’s programmable automation controller (PAC). Control simplification allows users to avoid the challenges associated with supporting a multivendor control installation, Good says.
“In addition, safety, vision and information-gathering functions are easily integrated with higher level applications. Industry regulations concerning software validation and traceability also are more easily met when robot control is incorporated directly in the controller.”
• SCARA robots are best used in dispensing, pick-and-place and gang picking applications for assembly and packaging where loads are moderate and high accuracy is not necessarily a top priority; for instance, in assembling a cell phone to place covers or buttons in the right location. SCARA robots are appropriate for plane-to-plane moves and have a small footprint, making them an ideal choice for manufacturers with space constraints.

Adept Quattro robot speeds pick and place applications.

Adept Quattro, insect-like, moves at very high speeds.

• Delta robots also are useful in pick-and-place applications for assembly and packaging when the load is light - typically less than one kilogram– like candy or lids for jars, and they are capable of operating at very high speeds. Delta robots are ideal for plane-to-plane moves. However, they are only able to move up and down relatively short distances in the Z axis – typically less than 100 millimeters. 
• Articulated arm robots are ideal for applications with a large work envelope and heavier payloads. In addition to plane-to-plane moves, they are also well-suited to painting or welding applications where movement over and under objects is necessary.
• Cartesian robots are frequently used in everything from life sciences applications to cartoning, dispensing, palletizing and large assembly projects. A Cartesian robot is a good choice for any system that has clearly defined x, y and z axes.
For more insights from Throne and Good, see the Back to Basics robotics tutorial, posted by mid-October 2008 at .

Bosch Rexroth provides many linear modules and cartesian systems.

Bosch Rexroth provides a variety of linear modules and cartesian systems and a configurator to help.

Sampling: Robots for every industry, need
An amazing diversity of robotics are available from manufacturers such as ABB , Adept , Fanuc Robotics , Kuka , Stäubli Robotics , among other robotics suppliers .
Addtional robotic resources follow.
ABB robot selector includes “robots with experience” (used)
All Kuka robots and applications (PDF)
Robotics Industry Association provides industry statistics, orders, market information
Bosch Rexroth linear modules and cartesian systems
SCARA and 6 axis robots and software solutions by Stäubli Robotics

Swarm robotics: Debugged naturally for 120 million years

Fanuc Robotics can suit many applications.

Fanuc Robotics can suit many applications.

Kuka robots handle many load ranges, depending on needs.

Kuka robots handle many load ranges, depending on needs.

Rockwell Automation MPMA Multi-Axis Stages work in Cartesian configurations.

MPMA Multi-Axis Stages address a variety of Cartesian configurations. They can move objects in 2- or 3-dimensional space for applications such as pick and place, palletizing and material handling. Source: Rockwell Automation

– Edited by  Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief, for the
Control Engineering
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