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As with most integrated systems, an integrated robotics system depends on the successful unification of its many components. Through careful planning and consideration of each individual part, an integrated robotic system can be implemented to streamline an existing process or to introduce a cost-effective new system. In order to make the transition from a factory with remote machines to a fully integrated system, it’s helpful to become familiar with several basic elements or robotic technology.
Regardless of the type of robotic system used, several key components are common to most system categories and can be found in most advanced robotic devices: gears, springs, clutches, and bearings. Each component works alongside the others to enable the machine to complete a given task with utmost efficiency. In industrial robots, these components depend heavily upon a computer to dictate their movement. In addition to key mechanical components, industrial robots also come equipped with arms and sensors for performing manufacturing tasks and obtaining feedback, as well as a controller.
Types of Industrial Robots
A nonservo robot, perhaps the simplest industrial variant, is primarily concerned with the simple movement and placement of an object. It can pick up an object, transport it to a new location, and place the object down. More advanced than a nonservo robot, a servo robot has a greater range of motion and depends on “arms” and “hands” (manipulators and effectors) with joints. A programmable robot features the added trait of storing commands in its database, thus allowing it to repeat a desired course of action multiple times. Lastly, a computer-programmable robot depends on a computer to control an otherwise basic servo robot. In an integrated robotic system, one of these variants or a combination thereof is manipulated and used alongside other components to stream-line a given production process.
To create an effective integrated robotic system there are three general issues to work around: complexity, price, and performance. The ultimate goal is to create a system with optimum performance for the lowest price without resorting to an overly complicated solution. In other words, the system should make ample use of modern technology to simplify the system as much as possible, but without compromising performance or price.
Achieving a balance between complexity, price, and performance often involves choosing between generalized and specific components. Generalized components can reduce the overall work involved in production and come with the added benefit of being reusable. If working with generalized components manufactured by the same company, the benefits increase because compatibility between machines is not an issue. Specialized components can tighten the system even more, but may require a larger upfront investment to gain greater cost benefits in the long-run.
In addition to component selection, there are other methods to maximize the overall performance of an automated system. Bringing together an array of basic robotic components and joining them together to achieve a higher function is the core of creating any automated system, but much of integration hinges on the complexity of the task in relation to the performance of the machinery. In order to limit a system’s overall level of complexity, joining only the necessary components for a given task creates an advanced system from basic components and minimizes unnecessary costs.
There are numerous kinds of software that can aid in creating an integrated system, so evaluation of available programs is an essential step in the planning process. However, software choices will vary with hardware components, so careful examination of the designed integrated system and components will help with this decision.
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