Robot assembly lines are becoming popular in various industries. Assembly robots are now building cars, home appliances, medical equipment, and even miniature electronics. The skilled labor shortage, brought about by the rising global wages and an aging workforce, sparks automation worldwide.
Robot assembly lines are becoming the only way for cost-effective manufacturing processes. Assembling processes also call for higher precision and accuracy as electronic devices become smaller. This article will discuss the key reasons why robot assembly lines are becoming so popular.
1. Space Utilization
Robot assembly lines can assemble more components in less space. In addition, these assembly lines are shrinking the workspace footprint by combining multiple operations, tools, and equipment. As a result, robot assembly lines can reduce the working space needed in the assembly line and the manufacturing floor as a whole.
Manufacturing industries are installing complex robotic systems in their assembly lines. These robot assembly lines use an end-of-arm tooling system to handle various components and tasks. The robotic end-of-arm is flexible, with many control and sensing capabilities. In addition, these robotic assembly arms only require a small footprint workspace to handle all their tasks.
Robotic arms can also handle the transfer of various components through the assembly line. Once a robotic arm has finished working on a component, it can effectively pass it to the next robot arm. Such as system allow all the robots within the single assembly line to work effectively.
2. Market Expansion
The market for robot assembly lines is expanding because mature and emerging industries are finding new applications for robots. There is also an ever-growing interest in automation among various manufacturing and assembly industries.
The benefits of robotic systems have seen many organizations move towards robot assembly lines in a bid to automate their operations. However, most organizations are also facing a skilled labor shortage, forcing them to seek tech-related solutions to the problem.
The automotive industry is the predominant industry for assembly, thus leading in the use of robot assembly lines. However, the robotic assembly has seen increasing growth in the durable goods market, such as lawn equipment and household appliances.
Robot assembly lines are also becoming popular in small parts assembly because of their accuracy. For example, the 3C, i.e., customer electronics, computers, and communications, are a significant growth area for robotic assembly lines. Though a small market compared to the automotive industry, medical devices have strong growth potential for automated assembly. This is because medical devices typically fit with small parts assembly.
Another exciting development is the growth of contract manufacturing services, which has seen small businesses hire companies to produce their products. This growing trend has excellent potential for robot assembly.
3. Miniaturization and Precision
Though the 3C industry and contract manufacturing are growing, consumer electronics are becoming smaller, requiring higher assembly precision. Therefore, robot assembly lines become critical when the production process needs flexible automation to make products with satisfactory consistency, precision, and cost.
Robot assembly is flexible enough to achieve the precision that these miniature devices require. In addition, manual skills required for such consistency and precision are not available or are very costly. Robot assembly lines offer manufacturers and assembly lines the best alternative at a lower cost.
Miniaturization, short product life cycles, and greater precision are the key drivers sparking the demand for robotic assembly lines. However, the short product life cycles cannot support customized machine tools. In addition, people cannot achieve the high level of precision called upon in assembling wearables, mobile devices, and other small electronics. The only option left is moving towards robotic assembly.
4. Advanced Sensors and Cameras
Sensor-based technologies are becoming better and cheaper, offering the best balance for robot assembly lines. Robots are now able to see, feel and adapt. These advanced sensors have enabled machine vision for component identification, robot guidance, inspection, and force sensing. These features allow the robots to carry out delicate and complex assembling tasks.
Robots have come through a significant growth curve on vision, making them suitable for applications that outstrip their repeatability. For example, assembly lines use robots equipped with cameras as their sensory input. The cameras have a 2D and 3D vision, which allows them to achieve the high level of precision and accuracy required to handle miniature components.
Some assembly robots have low-cost integrated vision features like 2D bar code readers. These features allow you to track the movement of parts on the assembly line. A low-cost vision system will also enable you to do the inspection and the assembly simultaneously.
Sensors have been in use in robotics for over two decades. What has changed is how well the sensors are integrated with the robot controls. This technology is growing and becoming more widespread in various applications. In addition, the technology is becoming more user-friendly with a more advanced user interface that doesn’t require a skilled operator.
5. Force Sensing and Control Technology
Robot assembly lines feature an integrated force control that makes them easy to use. A force sensor measures the torque and force applied at the end-of-arm tool. The sensor then sends feedback to the robot’s control system. The robot makes adjustments to its movements based on the feedback. Such a system is beneficial when assembling complex components.
The force feedback sensor allows you to achieve a higher precision level cost-effectively. The system replicates how human beings assemble devices. Though the concepts are complicated, program tools make them easy to use. The program tools reduce the complexity of the package and the amount and size of the hardware.
Groping is another key feature in force sensing. The assembling robot uses end–of–arm tool to move a component to where the robot will assemble it. The robot then transitions into the groping feature, making a pattern around the assembling point for the component.
The groping features allow the robot to move slowly and progressively until it makes contact. The robot senses the motion, direction, and force as it makes contact and eventually joins the parts together.
Components don’t have to go to another assembly point for assurance checks with advances in control technology. Sensor technology and processing power enable assembly and inspection to be done simultaneously.
Robot assembly lines are gaining popularity because of their benefits and advanced technologies compared to manual assembly lines. These advanced features allow assembly robots to join tiny parts with utmost precision and accuracy.