Over the years, industrial robots have been used to automate processes that involve assembling a product. These industrial robots have been mainly used in various industries such as; automotive assemblies, machinery, furniture, and electronics.
Industrial robots carry out the tasks of assembling products through various ways such as;
- By making use of a 4-to-6 axis robot, that is capable of human-like levels of skill.
- Using specialized grippers or tooling attached to the robots’ arms helps them manipulate and assemble parts.
- The integration of robot visual components into the assembly automation process helps identify and sort parts to ensure that products are appropriately placed and the finished product is well inspected
Applications of Robots in Automated Assembly Tasks
Assembly line robots have been used in manufacturing and production processes to perform tasks that involve the traceability and genealogy of parts. Through the process of part identification, other functions such as kitting or assembly may also require automation.
Assembly line robots designed to perform these tasks are usually fitted with visual components that help them identify and authenticate parts based on their shapes, sizes, color, markings, and barcodes.
Sorting of Parts
Part sortation in manufacturing and production processes is another area that can be automated by incorporating assembly-line robots. Part sortation is a repetitive task, and it can have a toll on human employees. However, robots can be programmed to select and sort different parts based on their color, markings, shape, size, and barcode.
Most automated assembly operations require tool changing. Tool changing from operating can be a risky affair to be undertaken by human employees. However, through automation, robots can be fitted with multiple gripper configurations to change various tools depending on size and type.
Visual inspection is a vital process in any manufacturing or production business. This is because nothing can be more devastating than shipping defective or faulty products to your customers. Assembly line robots can be used to inspect products to ensure consistency and quality.
Flexible feeding can be defined as an innovative way that is used to present parts to a robot. Pieces are usually fed out of a bulk hopper onto a feed surface, either a solid indexing or a vibratory surface, usually of a conveyor belt.
A robot can locate and determine the part orientation through a camera fitted above the feed surface. It picks the parts and performs the necessary operation that it is designed to perform.
Fastening or Joining of Parts
Any assembly line’s nature is to bring multiple pieces of a product together to form the complete end product. As such, past joining or fastening is a vital process in assembly operations. Joining and fastening methods vary depending on the parts being assembled.
In most cases, joining and fastening uses procedures such as; use of dispensing glues and adhesives, screwdrivers, clips insertion, and ultrasonic welding. All these methods can be automated to promote speed, precision, and consistency.
Benefits of Assembly Line Robots
Automation of assembly lines has many benefits such as;
- Increased product quality with few or no errors
- Increased return on investment with a shorter payback time
- Increased productivity with the ability to produce a broader range of products with faster time-to-market.
- Increased asset utilization and system uptime
- Optimized workflow that is designed around your value-added processes and not your fixed automation
- Removal of dedicated and expensive complex automation
With technological advancements always coming up with better and less complex robots, many manufacturing and production industries continue to embrace the idea of automating their businesses to ensure quality and consistent products with minimal chances of error.
This article highlights some of the various areas that can be automated in both the manufacturing and production industries. Automation of assembly lines is a must for any manufacturing or production business that is keen on ridding its human workers of assembly line tasks which are usually tedious, repetitive, and boring.