Robotics

What OEMs look for in a robot supplier

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) need to consider their plant floor, the type of robot and more when choosing a robot supplier.

By Nigel Smith January 13, 2021
Having an industrial robot that can provide software control can increase productivity and safety to your machinery, especially in precise and repetitive operations. Courtesy: TM Robotics

Any equipment with a robotic element requires integration of automated technology. For instance, incorporating a traditional robot arm onto a pick-and-place machine or adding automated movement onto otherwise static industrial equipment.

Robotic supplier TM Robotics works alongside machine builders to help them choose the correct robot for their application and understands the intricacies original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) need to consider.

Flexibility

OEMs often require more flexibility than an off-the-shelf robot can deliver. At TM robotics, we partner with machine builders to create new robot variations to meet their unique needs. Grabit, a company specializing in electro-static adhesion solutions for material handling, provides a good example of this.

Grabit was developing a machine to automate the materials handling process to assemble the upper of shoes. Intrigued by the Shibaura Machine’s selective compliance articulated robot arms (SCARA) robot range, Grabit turned to TM Robotics for support.

To meet Grabit’s requirements, the Shibaura Machine engineering team in Japan re-structured some of the THL1000 SCARA robot key features. Due to the size of the gripper Grabit planned to use, the Japanese engineers maximized the speed, minimized the cycle time and stopped vibration with some fine tuning of hardware and software. 

When choosing a robot supplier, determining the level of customization they can deliver is essential. For OEMs with complex machinery or unusual applications, embarking on future iterations and modifications to meet customization needs could prove to be much more costly.

Robot choice

For customers that aren’t well-versed in robot terminology, choosing the correct machine can be daunting. SCARA, six-axis and Cartesian are the three most common industrial robots’ types and offer a good place to start for those new to robotic technology.

SCARA robots are designed to mimic the action of a human arm, albeit a slightly rigid one. SCARA robots can automate assembly or loading and unloading tasks with speed and precision by offering fast motion in the X and Y axis. These robots are ideal for applications requiring fast and repeatable movements, like electronics assembly.

Six-axis robots offer more flexibility. Typically, these robots are mounted on a pedestal and offer the most directional movement. The robot arm can move in the X, Y and Z planes as well as positioning itself using roll, pitch, and yaw movements.

Cartesian robots use a one-dimensional motion to boost high reliability. Using between three and four sliding joins, Cartesian robots are suitable for fast parts assembly, conveying and transfer applications. Focusing on providing ease of operation, TM Robotics’ range of Cartesian models also requires little-to-no programming. Sometimes, however, an off-the-shelf robot will suffice.

The ease of programming is a huge benefit and the flexibility of product in terms of reach and payload mean that we can select the right robot for the project in terms of specification and price.”

Software control

Having an industrial robot that can provide software control can increase productivity and safety to your machinery, especially in precise and repetitive operations. CASI, a specialist machine builder of automated machinery, partnered with TM Robotics to create the Intelligent Box Opening Device (IBOD).

TM Robotics customized the internal parameter and programmable logic controller (PLC) settings to enable the robot to cut boxes efficiently. Utilizing this built-in intelligence, IBOD takes readings from photo optics and linear displacement sensors to measure the dimensions of each box before positioning it for cutting.

Software-controlled automation lets IBOD cut boxes according to bespoke specifications.  This also helps the robot to avoiding damages when finding obstruction in the cutting process, such as metal staples or tape.

Training

Machine builders and OEMs can also benefit from training from their robot supplier. Thorough training can ensure that robot programming and control is simple – and the OEM isn’t left with a robotic machine that they aren’t able to program correctly. It is paramount to ensure the supplier has delivered a compressive training process and, where possible, can pass this technical support onto the OEMs end users.

ASG, a certified manufacturer, provider for automated solutions, worked alongside TM Robotics to develop robotic screw feeding solutions. “The robustness of the robot’s arms was one of the key points in choosing TM Robotics, as we have a unique geometry with end of arm tooling (EOAT),” said Bryon Shafer, general manager of ASG Jergens.


Nigel Smith
Author Bio: Nigel Smith is managing director at TM Robotics, a Toshiba Machine partner.