Robots in the automation world are often thought of as the large, heavy pieces of machinery we’ve seen showcased countless times in car commercials, moving heavy parts, welding with sparks flying, dwarfing the cars they’re working on — not necessary equipment that has a variety of applications. But if your factory floor is smaller than a Cadillac plant or you’re working with a product smaller than a Mini Cooper, you still have enough space to automate:
Small multi-axis industrial robots add new twist to lean manufacturing, by Charlie Miller
When the design work first began on the IRB 120, it was intended for assembly work in the electronics industry. The idea was to make an affordable robot suited to low-cost countries where electronics are typically manufactured. But they soon caught on, domestically and abroad, as other industries found these robots improve productivity and are easily integrated into new and existing production lines. The installed base has extended to a variety of industries including pharmaceutical, packaging, food and beverage, automotive, and solar photovoltaic manufacturing. One of the key features of this new class of smaller, compact robots is they are able to work very close to other machinery in a production line. A typical base for these robots is 18 centimeters by 18 centimeters, the size of half a piece of A4 paper.
This class of robots typically weighs just 25 kilograms and has a very compact turning radius, enabled by the robots symmetric architecture, without offset on the second axis. This ensures the robot can be mounted close to other equipment, and the slim wrist enables the arm to reach closer to its application.
These compact robots also offer an advantage when mounting the robot upside-down, as it can be installed at a relatively low height, once again saving space. At the same time, these robots do not sacrifice reach. Typical “stroke” measures 411 millimeters, which is long compared to its total reach of 580 millimeters.