Software complexity is an issue
Is software complexity a major stumbling block for users of industrial robots? The short answer, yes. Robot manufacturers like ABB and others are taking heed of customer push back and simplifying their offerings.
As Al Presher from Design News put it recently: “A point of emphasis for industrial robotics going into the future is the trend of suppliers offering simpler software solutions, driven by strong feedback from customers that software complexity is a key difficulty.
“An example of how industry is responding,” continues Presher, “is the new industrial robot machine-tending software that allows simulation, validation, and software optimization to be completed in a 3D virtual environment, and then transferred to the robot controller.
The use of simulations is not new but is an example of how an extra layer of visualization software can enhance the user experience.”
The ABB/SVIA answer
PRODUCT DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT?A number of compelling arguments have brought an increasing number of machine shops, fabricators, and other manufacturers into the world of automated production, including the cost of skilled labor, the opportunity for ?lights out? operation, and the increasing affordability of robotic systems.
One such system, a collaboration between ABB Robotics and SVIA, LLC Industrial Automation, was recently deployed at Atlas Copco in Grand Prairie, Texas to tend three Okuma lathes that manufacture parts used in mining applications.
Increasing productivity by 70% in a 20-hour working day
The new Atlas Copco cell features an ABB IRB 6640 robot, SVIA?s PickVision Smart Camera vision system, three Okuma lathes and a Renishaw equator. The IRB 6640 will load and unload the three lathes, present finished parts to a dot peen marking system, and then load the parts on the equator for comparison measurements.
The cell will replace a three-person-per-shift system, increasing the number of finished parts by 70% in a 20-hour working day, while moving the displaced workers to more rewarding jobs within the facility.
SVIA?s PickVision is highly flexible and easy-to-use vision system technology adaptable for a wide range of robotic applications that can be enhanced by giving robots vision capability.
SVIA specializes in equipping industrial robots with vision enabled functionality for CNC machine tending systems in manufacturing for such applications as CNC lathes, vertical machine centers, horizontal machine centers and grinders.
There are over 650 PickVision installations in Europe, the vast majority with ABB industrial robots.
Giving the gift of sight to robots
ABB Robotics explained that PickVision allows robots to ?see? the parts they are handling, allowing them to adjust to a wide variety of parts easily. This flexibility makes it well suited for operations (like machining cells) that handle smaller volumes of the same part.
Also, due to the speed and agility that the smart camera function achieves, it is also effective for operations that use robots to handle large volumes of the same part.
The system is integrated with ABB?s IRC 5 Controller, so users may expect ?plug and play? simplicity in the process of setting up and adapting it to their specific applications.
It can be programmed on a PC or tablet, and features a Window 8 touch screen interface. The system includes remote service capabilities including a specially designed iPhone App.
?Giving the robots the ability to see brings enhanced capabilities to a wide range of robotic applications in both existing and emerging application segments,? stated SVIA president Gary Frick.
?When we first developed PickVision we had three goals in mind: to provide a machine tending tool that is powerful and flexible, yet easy to use.?