How to Choose the Right Collaborative Robot for Your Needs

Anyone looking to automate manufacturing process by use robots in the production line probably looks for ways to use industrial robots or collaborative robots. A simple search online will offer thousands of results related to the use of robots to automate manufacturing processes.

There are more than one hundred models of collaborative robots in the market. This can make the process of choosing the right collaborative robot a demanding task.

Here is how to choose the right collaborative robot for your needs.

What tasks do you want to automate?

By answering this question, you can help a robot vendor to understand your needs and to tell which robot best suits your needs. For instance, a company like Universal Robots has manufactured collaborative robots that can help with simple paint jobs or more complex tasks like welding.

Universal Robots had collaborated with some third party companies to create the UR+Ecosystem. This ecosystem makes it possible for industries to automate welding, sanding and finishing, dispensing, palletizing and machine tending among other processes.

Identify the reach and the payload

When looking for the perfect universal robot, you need to be able to provide information about the mass of the heaviest part of your manufacturing process. This way, the vendor can determine the process’s maximum payload and pick the right collaborative robot for it.

Other robot vendors will require getting details on the product specifications. However, with universal robots, the process is straightforward since the payload for each robot is specific to the name of the robotic arm.  For instance, UR3e can handle not more than 3kgs. The UR5e can handle up to 5kgs while the UR10e can lift to 10kgs payloads.

How is the robot expected to complete tasks?

You need to determine where the robots will get the parts of the processes it will be working on. Also, you need to consider where it will place the parts once it finishes working on them. This solution can be gotten from observing the working of the current operator. This way, you can calculate the distance and areas covered before a process is complete.

This information makes it possible for the universal robot vendor to determine the required robotic reach in your processing plant. The UR5e can reach up to 500mm, the UR5e comes with an 850mm each, and the UR10e has a reach of 1300mm.

Finding the balance

To be able to find the right UR cobot for your needs, you need to consider the weight and reach limitations of your processes. For instance, if your processes only require the robot to work on a circuit board, the parts are usually below 1kg. While an UR3e may be ideal for this operation, it won’t work if the robot requires moving the parts to a machine located 600mm away. The UR3e does not have sufficient reach abilities for this process. Therefore, an UR5e would be best suited for this process.

The robotic speed

When it comes to speed, all three universal robot models come with the same specifications of 1m/s typical linear tool speed. The speed used is determined by whether the robot will work in an environment similar to an industrial robot or whether it will work alongside human workers.

When working in a collaborative environment, the risk of collision requires the speed to be set at 250mm/s. additionally, safety components should be integrated into the robotic cell. These components can be light curtains or space scanners that make the robot aware of the presence of human workers and thus slow down. After the human worker has exited the area of work, the collaborative robot can resume its usual speed. This allows the robot to work in its maximum speed while at the same time allowing for same human-robot interactions.

Other factors that will determine the right collaborative robot for your needs include footprint, repeatability, working temperature and required certifications. These factors should be evaluated for every application to ensure you get the best collaborative robot for your company.

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