Industrial Robots

It has been said that the greatest growth in the robotics industry will be for industrial work robots such as one would find in a warehouse.

Amazon is probably the largest user of robots in North America and probably the world. We will check on this factoid soon. (April 24 2021)

There are 6 main types of industrial robots and each one is used to perform specific types of tasks.

  1. SCARA – Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm
  2. Cartesian
  3. Articulated
  4. Cylindrical
  5. Delta
  6. Polar
  7. Collaborative

Some of the tasks that industrial robots are asked to do include…assembly of parts,feeding livestock or patients, inspection, handling, construction tasks like sanding, applying adhesives, drilling and insert screws and bolts.

An industrial robot is said to have 3 main features: it is automated, programmable, and can move in 3 or more axes.

In the next section we will describe each of the types and some of the components and control and repair issues that they often require as it would relate to getting a job.

When we use the term industrial robots, most of us can visualize a collection of heavy metal robot arms on a car assembly lines welding and assembling heavy car parts. \

We may have seen the warehouse wheeled robots in a warehouse like amazon beeping and loading pallets of boxes and shifting them all around the facility and onto shelving.

Weve seen some robot arms doing surgery either in science fiction movies or on documentary television shows. We know that industrial robots do work with heavy things by the thousands whereas consumer oriented robots just do light duty things for a single person or maybe a family.

Now back in time our first work robot or industrial robot was a scimple crane device made out of metal Meccano pieces in 1937 by Bill Taylor.It used a motor and had what are called 5 axes of movement which allowed it to pick up pieces and move them around. It didnt have a computer of course but it automatically operated using some computer like punch cards and solenoids to move the crane parts.

The first company to produce a robot in 1961 was the Unimation company and these machines were also known as programmable transfer machines. They used hydraulic actuators and their technoloy was licensed to Kawasaki Heavy Industries and GKN and Unimates.

The competition in robots went from a handful to dozens in the 1970s.

Standford University created the Standford arm in 1969 which was powered by electricity. It was a 6 dog articulated robot which could be used for welding work. Other versions were to come out of the Stanford University.

Europe saw a rush at developing robot companies in the early 1970s with names like Kuka Robotics and ABB Robotics. The first micro processor controlled robot came out of the ABB Robotics lab.

Other companies popped up like General Electric and GM. GM later formed the well known robotics company FANUC Robotics by partnering with the Japanese company. Other US companies were Automatix and Adept. Westinghouse was involved and many European firms.

The Japanese companies seemed to last through the lean years but some of the ones outside of Japan to stay around were Staubli, Adept, KUKA and Comau.

It is said that Fanuc and ABB have a very strong foothold in the large industrial robot market.

As robot technology advanced there was a move towards robots which just performed simple assembly tasks to ones that moved more autonomously with the aid of vision systems attached to the computer and now more AI which is being developed.

Here is an amazing website and company that has robot simulation software for most of the major industrial robot arms in the world.

You can use their software to learn about how to program these robot arms and if your company has robot arms, then this software can be used to program it offline.

You can use this software to convert code from one company’s robot into a language that you are more comfortable with.

Here is the link to Robodk

Here is an example of an industrial collaborative robot arm from the Trossen Robotics company that sells for about US $20,000

By collaborative we mean that the operator stands behind it and guides the arm for some part of its use either to train it or to conduct its main activities.