Hassle-Free Remote Access to UR Cobots in a Time of Covid-19
For busy manufacturers, the implications of Covid-19 are huge: work from home directives, social distancing requirements, labor shortages and absenteeism are existential human resources challenges. Many manufacturers have turned to cobots to adapt their production or to maintain business continuity. But what if there is an issue with your cobot and you have no personnel on site? What if you need to reprogram your cobot to facilitate a new batch, but you can't find anybody to access the work cell? What if you want to get useful insights on how your cobot is performing, but your facility is on lockdown? And is it possible to program your cobot without having to disinfect the cobot cell afterwards?
Remote access tools are the all-in-one solution to all of these challenges. Available through the UR+ ecosystem, remote access tools allow you to troubleshoot and program your UR cobot securely from remote locations, through your laptop, PC or smartphone. The benefits of remote access are clear at any time –ensure continuity, reduce downtime and eliminate both the need for on site robot programming and the cost of flying robot engineers in to troubleshoot. In a time of Covid-19 however, remote access tools provide even greater value as they can be used to ensure worker health and safety and compliance with regulations governing the manufacturing sector.
Let's take a look at some of the the UR-certified range of remote access tools available through UR+, along with insights from their makers and testimonials from satisfied --and even 'surprised'-- customers!
Remote access in a time of Covid-19
ARCS2 is a UR+ solution that allows you to remotely monitor, control and program UR robots from any location.
The latest addition to UR's range of remote access tools, ARCS2 is a LAN-based software-only tool that provides access to the UR operating system (SSH) and teach pendant via VNC. “ARCS2 allows end users to fix any robot issue, regardless of the factory's location, from a central spot, or even from a home office. It also minimizes the need to be on site for troubleshooting, saves money and time and reduces production downtime,” explains Airgate CEO, Søren Lund, adding that the company has seen a massive increase in demand for its product from manufacturers that need to quickly adapt to today's operational and personnel challenges.
The familiar Polyscope interface from the UR teach pendant is fully accessible via Airgate’s VNC connection.
UR certified integrator ICS Industriedienstleistungen GmbH is utilizing ARCS2 at a laser marking cell that uses a UR3e cobot to help with the production of small pressure sensors. ARCS2 enables ICS to perform remote access and programming assistance, remote maintenance and real-time process monitoring, says project manager, Marko Müller-Piltz: "We see two main benefits to ARCS2. We save time because we can help our clients quickly and we save money because we don't have to travel to troubleshoot.”
By the way, Airgate has launched a trial that provides five full minutes of free access to ARCS2, giving potential customers an opportunity to see the software in operation for themselves. Visit www.airgate.dk/arcs2 for more details.
Key performance insights
Insights provides real-time data to monitor, troubleshoot and improve your production processes.
Insights is remote monitoring software from Robotiq that allows you to gather data from your UR cobot, define and track key performance indicators (KPIs), identify KPI trends and optimize production –anywhere, anytime and on any smart device. And if your cobot fails for any reason, Insights will send alerts out to key personnel.
New Jersey-based ZAGO Manufacturing uses a UR10e cobot to meet customer demand for its high-tech sealing fasteners and switch seals. On the advice of robotics integrator Allendale Machinery, ZAGO equipped the cobot with Robotiq's Insights software for both troubleshooting and production optimization. Suzanne Tracey at The Knotts Company introduced ZAGO to the UR ecosystem: “At first they [ZAGO] were fearful that this would be really complicated. But with Robotiq’s Insights monitoring software, either staff or the integrators at Allendale Machinery could access the robot remotely to make changes to the program on the fly.”
This UR10e cobot works at least 18 hours a day at ZAGO manufacturing, while Robotiq's Insights software monitors every second.
As Jim Quinn, application engineer at Allendale Machinery explains, Insights improves the ability of support teams and end users to work together while apart: “ZAGO is probably an hour from our office, so to be able to see what they're doing with remote access and provide support is definitely worth having the Insights license.”
Passing auto giant Ford's tests, with flying colors
CobotVNC provides easy access to your UR cobot on any smart device.
CobotVNC is URCap software that provides remote programming, assistance, debugging, backup and cobot training via VNC. Launched just prior to the emergence of Covid-19, CobotVNC has attracted a stream of customers from Europe and North America, says NUTAI's business development manager, Mónica Pérez: “In the times that we are living in, our software allows users to avoid having to be on premises and the need to clean and disinfect their work stations. Companies are contacting us from around the world to purchase these products for use in industry by end users and integrators.”
Ford's Valencia Engine Plant (VEP) in Spain has deployed a UR10e on its production line. The company recently tested CobotVNC on their cobot, with excellent results. New technologies engineer at Ford VEP, Pablo Jimeno explains: “NUTAI´s CobotVNC software has positively surprised us. We tested it on a robot that we had on the line and the truth is that it worked perfectly. It allows us to remotely manage the robot and access the files without being present, greatly facilitating maintenance, control and production assistance management.”
CobotVNC allows easy uploads of new routines to the robot
Ford's Jimeno sees additional value for CobotVNC in education scenarios: “I believe that it can have impact not only in the industry but also in the training and learning sector. It can help new generations learn more and better about collaborative robotics, a technology that has grown a lot lately and that is going to be key in this sector for years to come.”
Connecting through the cloud
IXON’s remote access platform includes the IXrouter (foreground on desk) and URCap software that connects cobot and teach pendant to the web-based platform
IXON Cloud is a complete remote service platform that provides remote access and data logging, dashboards, alarming and much more using its plug-and-play IXrouter and URCap software. Once connected to the UR cobot, the router acts as an edge device and data gateway, providing insights that can be used to tweak production processes.
IXON has made it a priority to provide easy access to IXON's remote services, says Sjors Thijssen, account manager at IXON: “IXON was founded with the idea of making cloud connections easier, more secure and more accessible for machine builders, integrators and end users. IXON Cloud is designed so that it can easily be used by shop floor personnel and managers too. COVID-19 has emphasized the importance of having a decent remote service strategy; not just during a pandemic, but also to add value to solutions for the long run.”
IXON's award winning remote services solution is available through UR+.
Robot integration specialists Smart Robotics uses IXON Cloud to provide remote services on its UR cobot-based deployments. “It is very important to us that we can remotely access all our systems to see how they’re behaving,” says Heico Sandee, Managing Director at Smart Robotics. “We strive for high flexibility by implementing a fairly complex system, which should be user-friendly for our customers. That’s exactly what IXON does as well, so our philosophy is nicely aligned."
Are you ready to learn more about the UR+ range of remote access tools? Contact one of our experts here!