With advanced technology, a deficit of skilled labor to cover many applications, and the rise of demand for products and services, many industries today are doing everything they can to keep up. Among different industries, one of the most common trends is using robotics to supplement the human workforce or upgrading to more innovative and advanced automation applications.
The automotive industry is a leader in robotic applications, with the use of industrial robots dating back to the mid-1900s. It is among the top users of more innovative robotics for its assembly line applications, among other processes in recent years. Other industries that follow closely with assembly line robots include the electronics assembly industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the medical device, and the appliance industries.
The automobile industry uses assembly robots for many applications, including welding, painting, spraying, and part assembly applications. Some vehicle components robots assemble in the industry are gears, steering wheels, motors, and pumps.
Even though the industry was among the first to embrace automation, it has come a long way from the traditional industrial robots to the newer, more innovative robotic trends. The car manufacturing industry also uses different types of assembly robots for various applications. Below are some of the most common robots used in the industry.
Collaborative robots are a new entry into the automotive industry. Many of the cobot applications are not as heavy-duty as those carried out by traditional industrial robots are. Cobots have smaller footprints and payloads, but they are perfect for assembly applications.
Furthermore, they are faster to implement, easier to program and cost much less than the heavier and larger traditional industrial robots. Cobots operate safely alongside their human counterparts, and they have installed sensors that help them monitor every situation around them.
Moreover, unlike traditional industrial robots, cobots require little programming as they learn through simulation without any need for skilled programmers or technicians. Some of the most popular assembly line robots are the UR robot arms from universal robots that can handle various applications.
Articulated Robots (6-Axis Robots)
6-axis robots or articulated robots are popular assembly line automation systems. The popularity of the robots stems from their flexibility, ability to address constraints of floor space and ceiling height, and their ability to utilize large working envelope spaces. The six axes are
- Axis 1 – Rotates the robot at the base
- Axis 2 – Forwards or takes back the lower arm robots extension
- Axis 3 – Raises or lowers the upper arm of the robot
- Axis 4 – Rotates or wrist rolls the upper arm of the robot
- Axis 5 – Raises or lowers the wrist of the robot’s arm
- Axis 6 – Rotates the wrist of the robot’s arm
Servomotors drive the movement of the articulated robot, and it has an in-built system that controls the precise movement of the robot and the power supply to every motor. Articulated robots are simple to operate, easy to maintain, and easy to deploy on various machines for a broader range of applications.
The automotive industry uses dual-arm robots for shortening the cycles in treating the suspension component’s front and back surfaces. As the name suggests, the robot has two arms that work simultaneously on any task. They have a synchronized motion, are highly flexible, and handle all the items safely.
Some of the jobs that dual-arm robots handle are small part assembly, machine tending, or small variable applications, unloading, loading, packing, and any conditions that require frequent operator presence.
Cartesian robots that also go by gantry robots offer several advantages on the assembly line and other manufacturing applications. Some of their most significant advantages are their great workspace utilization, low cost, simplicity, and high dynamic range. The Cartesian robots work by making linear three axes movements, X, Y, and Z. They are ideal for lighter applications such as positioning tools with the help of linear actuators and motors.
The Scara robot, which stands for Selective Compliant Articulated Robot Arm, developed in 1981, is one of the most straightforward robots to install and one of the quickest to deliver returns on investment. It can mimic the actions of a human arm and automate assembly line applications, loading and unloading tasks with excellent precision and speed. The Scara robot stands on a vertical axis but can do a rotation with three translations.
Serial robots are popular in the assembly lines, with one good example being the robotic arm. It gets its name from its arm that forms a series connected with joints and linkages. Each joint has either one or more actuators or motors connected to the rods that allow the arm to mimic the human arm. The serial robot is highly flexible, and it does not occupy too much workspace on the industrial floor.
Delta robots have small footprints but much higher acceleration and speed compared to many other robots. It has a three-linked axis at the wrist of the arm, enabling the robot to utilize the workspace by part feeding on the sides of a work zone. Besides the high acceleration and speed, the robot is highly flexible and precise. It is ideal for repeatability and small part assembly line applications.
All the above robots are widely used in the car manufacturing industry and many other industries. They are ideal for assembly line applications and smaller tasks. Moreover, they are all very trendy compared to the traditional robots, and they all work to enhance the production processes in every manufacturing process. Other characteristics the robots share are high flexibility, safety to work alongside humans, cost-effectiveness, and the ability to cut down on running costs.
However, before implementing any robot, you have to consider the applications you need the robot for and the amount of space available for the robot to work freely without any interference. In some circumstances, you can have different types of robots in the same organization running different tasks.