Robots are intensively used in the industry, where they perform repetitive or dangerous tasks with rigor. With the advances in robotics, the technology of industrial robots improves and their cost decreases. Robotics, whose applications are increasing, is an ever-expanding market.
An industrial robot is a poly-articulated system making it possible to move and position a tool via its end effector (robotic arm or hand) in a working space. The poly-articulated mechanisms in robots use a structure made up of articulated levers (rotary joints) for its motion. They are used for several complex tasks such as penetrations to hardly accessible areas. Robots with poly-articulated arms are used in several industries for welding, painting, surface coating, transporting materials to inaccessible areas, etc.
For safety reasons, some massive industrial robots were installed in cages or casings because humans coming in close contact with them could be dangerous. It has never been safe to leave robotic arms swinging around humans, but all that is changing now. Nowadays, robots are starting to come out of their cages to work with humans side by side. A good example is at Volkswagen, one of the world’s largest automotive engine factories. They have announced that their “collaborative robot,” the lightweight robotic arm, won’t sit in a cage. Instead, it will work in proximity with humans in their cylinder head assembly section.
Industrial robots are now equipped with vision systems that increase their flexibility of execution and make it possible to verify the quality of the products manufactured. These types of robots use a Vision-Guided Robot (VGR) System; they have one or more cameras fitted into them, which serve as sensors to provide a secondary feedback signal to the robot controller to move a variable target position more accurately.
Industrial Robots Interest
Industrial robots have been developed for use in hazardous environments, for example in the nuclear industry or environments with high corrosion. An industrial robot can also be used to handle heavy objects, which is another very common use.
Robots have long been used in assembly lines in the automotive industry where they replace workers in painful and dangerous tasks (painting, welding, and stamping).
Industrial robots have been at the forefront of modern automotive manufacturing since the 1960s. Even today, their use is still on the increase.
The first industrial robots, ever used by a major manufacturer, dates back to 1962 when Unimation’s UNIMATE was installed in General Motor’s plant in New Jersey. However, it was in 1982 that industrial robots truly became associated with the automotive industry. At this point, manufacturers began employing robotics to automate many processes, such as painting, welding, die casting, assembly, and for moving large parts. Even in this present day, the automotive industry still tops the chart of global robot usage, and robotic installation is still on the rise.
In the past few years, the automotive industry has recorded increased investments in industrial robots across the world. In 2013, new robot installation hit nearly 70,000, establishing a new peak level. In 2014, the global automobile production was estimated at 90 million units. With this figure, the number of installations is expected to be on the rise in the coming years.
Applications of Robots in the Auto Industry
Nowadays, automobile production is more complicated than it used to be, and manufacturers are employing robots to do most of the work to ensure precision and also to get the job done the first time and right on time. The robots in the automotive industry are mainly employed for lifting/moving heavy objects, welding, and painting.
A robot is used to move a part down the assembly line. Robots are used to lift heavy objects that could weigh thousands of pounds. These types of robots are driven by a hydraulic pump, regarding lifting, they can outperform human employees. The robots do all the heavy lifting, saving human employees from lifting injuries and muscle strains. Without the assistance of these robots, some jobs that are now possible would be considered impossible.
A robotic welder plays an important role during the manufacturing process. The robotic welder applies an excellent weld each time it is employed, and it does so in a short time. Usually, the time it would take a human to apply a rigorous weld is twice that of a robot. There are two types of welding applied on an automobile; they are arc welding and spot welding. Arc welding is mostly used because it is an efficient way to apply weld to the metal. It uses an electrical power supply to build an electric arc between the material being welded and the welder. Arc welding melts the two metal being combined, and it is mostly used on areas that will encounter a lot of stress such as the chassis. Spot welding, on the other hand, is a kind of resistance welding used to join different sheet metal.
Robot Spray Painters
With robot spray painters, painting a vehicle is now very easy. A human cannot match the quality of the painting done by robots. The robot is programmed to spray a certain amount of per second to prevent runs in the paint. Compared to humans, robots spray painters can paint more cars in a day. They also prevent human workers from coming in contact with the harmful fumes contained in paints and create a safer working environment.
These are some of the robotic applications in the auto industry. The fact remains that various interesting innovations are coming up for the automotive industry. These robots enhance productivity, reliability, and security, reducing cost and delivery time.