6 Ways Easy Programming and Maintenance Maximizes the Benefits of a Collaborative Robot
Collaborative robot deployments often have high visibility throughout all levels of an organization, whether it’s manufacturing, packaging, or research. What is also highly visible is the process for conquering the learning curve and the ease with which the robot is back online if (when) hiccups happen. It is pretty obvious that easy programming and maintenance are beneficial to an organization, but let’s talk a bit further about exactly why they’re important.
#1: RETURN ON INVESTMENT
#3: ELEVATE THE WORKFORCE
UR5 Joint Replacement Tutorial
#4: DOWNTIME AND RECOVERY
#5: OPPORTUNITY COST
#6: COST OF OWNERSHIP
The cost of training courses (both for programming and maintenance) can easily add up to several days and thousands of dollars per trainee. An intuitively programmable and easily serviceable platform mitigates (or may even eliminate) this ramp-up time, and greatly reduces the total cost of ownership of the system.
HOW CAN YOU REALIZE THESE BENEFITS?
One way to tackle the learning curve is to invest in a system designed to be easily programmed. On some systems, this is done by integrating the teaching interface onto the robot arm, where a programmer can set waypoints by pressing buttons on the panel.
On the Universal Robots platform, ease of programming is a driving idea behind the PolyScope interface. While minimal programming experience always helps in a production application, the time for training on a UR is reduced to 1.5 days on average, with avenues for much more complex applications for those comfortable. The UR+ ecosystem provides a certified list of accessories (grippers, vision, software, etc.) that are guaranteed to integrate easily with the robot. Ease of maintenance is also a primary objective, with a maintenance-free operation and joint modules that can be quickly and easily swapped to reduce downtime.
UNIVERSAL ROBOTS MODEL UR5 JOINT REPLACEMENT TUTORIAL
At All Axis Machining in Dallas, Texas, the company had employees go through the UR Academy, consisting of free, interactive online modules that teach basic programming and set-up. “We had an elderly operator doing the sanding, which requires a lot of muscle,” explains owner of All Axis Machining, Gary Kuzmin, who one day saw the operator on his own pick up the cobot’s teach pendant to start programming it to sand a part. “I’ve never been more proud to see one of our employees learn a brand-new technology. This is really empowering and is going to improve his whole lifestyle and earning capability as well.”
Aircraft Tooling, a Texas-based repair center for the aviation industry, was surprised to find that the UR robots could withstand the high temperatures and harsh environment while performing metal powder and plasma spray processes. The cobots have now been in operation for three years without breakdown or service requirements
An alternative to obtaining an easy-to-use platform is to develop an internal robotics team and build their expertise in deploying other major industrial robotic brands, effectively creating an in-house integration team. While this does require certain personnel to be siloed and investments in training/resources for the first application, every subsequent project takes less time as the team conquers the learning curve. This internal innovation and expertise can provide a competitive advantage by granting the ability to quickly expand capacity and capability in industries where new products are regularly brought to market.
If developing a team internally is not possible, it could also be feasible to bring in a third party to provide support and integration. By outsourcing the expertise, there is no need to reallocate resources or shift focus away from immediate production needs, with the tradeoff that the required Non-Recoverable Engineering work now carries a markup.
Acquiring a Collaborative Robot is an exciting proposition, and it is natural that the ease of programming and support is desirable. Beyond the obvious benefit of faster deployments and reduced downtime, there are several other benefits to an easy-to-use system for manufacturers and their employees, including better ROI and reduced opportunity costs and downtime.
Interested in learning how to program our robots ? Try our free Online Academy