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Tips to select right robot for the job



There is a vast choice of automated systems available in the market for different purposes. Jonathan Wilkins discusses his top considerations when purchasing a robot.
 
In September 2017, ABB’s dual armed robot, YuMi, made history by becoming the first robot to conduct an orchestra. YuMi conducted three pieces at the Lucca Philharmonic Orchestra, accompanied by Italian tenor, Andrea Bocelli and Maria Luigia Borsi. 
 
From robotic conductors to robot vacuum cleaners, there is a vast choice of automated systems available for different purposes. Because there are so many options, it can be difficult for companies to choose which model to invest in. Given below are top three considerations for choosing a robot.
 
Application
 
The first priority when deciding which robot to purchase should be to narrow down by application, as this determines the type of robot needed. If you’re looking to automate a pick and place activity, a SCARA robot might be most suitable. If your application requires the robot to work closely alongside human staff, a collaborative robot will most likely be for you. Different applications will require different numbers of axes of motion, payloads, speed and reach. It is important to check these features to make sure the robot can perform the task required at your facility.
 
Once you’ve specified the action you’d like the robot to perform, you can consider the size of the work area to make sure it will suit your production line. 
 
Manufacturers must also take into account the accuracy and repeatability of the robot, as this will impact its performance on the production line. It is a common mistake to buy an accurate robot without considering how well it repeats the accurate motion. 
 
Operating costs
 
Robots are unlikely to break down soon after purchase, but as time goes on the machines can wear and break. In order to keep costs down, manufacturers should consider maintenance before purchasing a new robot. 
 
It’s useful to know if the robot manufacturer or systems integrator that you’re purchasing from offers a preventative maintenance contract, whether this is 24/7 and what it includes. Knowing this in advance will minimise the risk of a breakdown and being hit with unexpected costs down the line.
 
Running costs will also depend on the expected use of a robot and power usage. Looking at the reliability and life span of the robot may help to guide you towards the best value for your application.
 
Social implication
 
Introducing a new robot is sure to impact your staff. This is particularly noticeable when introducing collaborative robots, which work directly alongside humans. Companies must ensure that staff are comfortable with the purchase and receive sufficient training.
 
You should ensure your company has the capacity to provide any training needed so that staff understand robot programming and operation and can follow safety standards like crush zones and access areas. The programming ability of your staff must be up to the challenge of a new robot, otherwise it will be extremely difficult to operate it correctly. 
 
The best robots are well designed, safe and user-friendly. By thinking carefully, manufacturers can combine a human workforce with a robot to best achieve business goals.
 
Jonathan Wilkins is the Marketing Director at EU Automation, which stocks and sells new, used, refurbished and obsolete industrial automation spares. 

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