Saturday, August 8, 2009

Robotics green Trend: A Q&A

Concerns about the natural state of our planet have never been higher. Manufacturers are putting a considerable amount of thought into how to lower their impact on the natural environment while still supplying the goods that people and industry require. Investing in robotics is among one of several strategies that business are using in their efforts to “go green.”

Going green, diminishing the repercussions of the production process on the Earth, has inexorably become a trend. “Many manufacturers have not yet recognized the role that robotics can play in conservation,” says, John Burg, President of Ellison Technologies Automation (Council Bluffs, Iowa). Smart players in industry will adapt to this new reality sooner rather than later.

Companies that are going green will have a chance to discuss environmentally friendly manufacturing, among other topics, at the 2009 International Robot, Vision & Motion Control Show and Conference to be held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont (Chicago), Illinois, June 9-11, 2009.

What green technology trends do you see now and in the near future?

Material removal tasks on a wind turbine in progress, courtesy KMT Robotic Solutions Inc.“When robots make the manufacturing process more efficient, robots make it greener,” asserts Roberta Zald, Market Planning and Communications Director at KMT Robotic Solutions Inc. (Auburn Hills, Michigan). “The push to make cars and planes lighter and more fuel efficient is a green trend. This push is driving aerospace and automotive companies to use more composite materials and carbon fiber to reduce weight.” Opportunities for robotics will come in handling and trimming these new materials, Zald believes.

“Robotics help reduce scrap during a trimming work cell’s initial set-up. With computer numerical controlled machines (CNC), multiple parts are often needed to set up the machine to come up with the first good part. Using robotics leads to faster and more efficient changeovers to new part runs,” she adds.

Zald points out another facet of robotic applications that can be considered green: Removing operators from dangerous environments that could impact their health. Robots in applications such as trimming, sanding and painting help keep operators safe while controlling waste so they do not negatively impact the operator’s health or the environment.

Sharing the belief that robotics can play a role in greening up of automotive production is Greg Hollows, Director of Machine Vision Products with Edmund Optics Inc. (Barrington, New Jersey). “The automotive industry is trying to be more green by producing more fuel efficient vehicles. Vision-guided robotics can help.” Hollows’ caveat is the automotive sector is not spending cash at the moment, but he expects investment in green technology to increase in the coming years.

The trend toward thinking green is more of a philosophy than a standard in manufacturing, posits
David Arceneaux, Operations Assistant Division Manager at Stäubli Corp. (Duncan, South Carolina) “Companies are developing manufacturing systems utilizing robotics which helps promote green design and sustainable production strategies. Companies are recycling, using alternative power, and utilizing robotics where they have not before,” says Arceneaux.

Arceneaux’s colleague at Stäubli, Chad Henry, concurs. Henry, Stäubli’s Applications Engineering Manager, contends, “Robotics can be part of an overall green strategy through redeploying equipment or developing new processes. For example, robotics can be part of a ‘lights out’ process.” The “lights out” concept that Henry refers to is the idea that robots do not need much artificial light to function if a work cell operates without humans. Lights-out production translates into less energy use, the epitome of the current green trend.

Automatic vacuum management saves energy by minimizing compressed air consumption in sealed systems, courtesy PIAB Vacuum Products.To go lights-out, integrators must incorporate the correct vision equipment for the application, maintains Henry. “Vision systems do not need much ambient light to function. While vision-enabled robotics cannot operate in complete darkness, they use much less light than if people were working in that environment,” Henry says. “A vision system only uses the amount of light it needs to accomplish the task.”

If a work cell is not using vision, the robot does not need electric light but is using sensors and other inputs to manage its processes and how to react to specific situations, says Henry.

Andrew Lovell, Applications Engineer with PIAB Vacuum Products (Hingham, Massachusetts) also sees reduced energy requirements through robotic-based manufacturing. “The movement of a robot can be very precisely controlled to eliminate wasted movement, when compared to manual assembly. The operator might leave the vacuum pump on when it is not needed.” Lovell agrees with Stäubli’s Chad Henry in his belief that robotics facilitate “lights-out” production. “In many applications, robots can operate in the dark. Robots do not require the same environment as a human does to function in.”

How is the trend toward green manufacturing impacting your company and the way you do business?

“The design of robotic work cells and their components are an important part of the trends toward green production,” says John Mazurkiewicz, Product Marketing Manager Servos and Motion Control at Baldor Electric Co. (Fort Smith, Arkansas). “Engineers designing work cells with absolute feedback devices such as servo motors is a green trend. When used with robotics, servo motors allow for tasks to be done faster with less energy.”

New stainless steel servo motor, courtesy Baldor Electric Co.Mazurkiewicz proclaims that absolute feedback devices save time, energy, materials and money. To illustrate, Mazurkiewicz says, “If a work cell looses power with traditional feedback devices like an incremental motor, operators have to go back to the work cell’s point of reference and begin the task over again. If an absolute feedback device looses power then regains power, operators only need to read it to know exactly where the robot is in its process.”

Mazurkiewicz goes on to say that the trend toward absolute devices will decrease machine downtime and improve productivity. “Most green trends typically take place first in Europe, where they are willing to try new technologies. In North America, we are more concerned with cost-savings.” Eventually, design engineers in North America look at green trends while reducing costs.

“Few companies are interested in conservation for conservation’s sake, but they are interested in going green if it offers a return on investment. New work cells that are more environmentally friendly and conserve energy would also save a lot of money,” observes Ellison’s John Burg.

Burg turns his attention to the use of coolants in robotic material and machining applications. “Coolants have been used for over a century to help increase tool life or reduce tool wear. The impact of coolants is not environmentally friendly, but producers of coolants are doing a lot of work to reduce that impact.” Burg adds, “Many material removal end-users are looking at how to dramatically reduce coolant use in their machining process. Reducing coolant use translates into not having to reclaim, reuse or dispose it.” Reducing, reusing and recycling are at the heart of going green.

What are the benefits of going green for your company and the environment?

Robotic handling of solar panels, courtesy of FANUC Robotics America Inc.“Going green helps FANUC re-imagine and reinvent our products and helps us stay nimble with the solutions we provide to support emerging green markets,” contends Christopher Blanchette, National Distribution Sales Account Manager with FANUC Robotics America Inc. (Rochester Hills, Michigan) “Going green provides a cleaner and more healthy environment for a sustainable future, which is a social aspect.“

Blanchette says that until recently, “The trend toward green manufacturing has been slow due to insufficient social pressure put on businesses to really push cost-competitive, environmentally friendly technologies.”

Taking a different tack, Greg Hollows says, “The benefits of going green for Edmund include the variety of opportunities to make a difference in the world and to provide for our employees. Making a dedicated effort to meet the need for green technologies allows Edmund to keep people employed in these uncertain economic times.”

Hollows continues, “Corporations need to be more responsible for what we have been given in the world. Edmund Optics believes we have a corporate responsibility to focus on green technologies and do what we can to help them in the marketplace.”

Likewise, Dan Shumaker, Market Research Manager at Motoman Inc. (West Carrollton, Ohio) sees the benefits of going green in manufacturing. “Going green presents potential new opportunities for growth for Motoman, both in terms of new products and marketing programs.” Shumaker proposes that, “Many green technologies will continue to experience strong growth, including wind power, solar power, fuel cells, and other technologies that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Companies will continue to investigate methods for increasing productivity to accelerate cost parity with conventional sources of electricity in order to drive alternative energy adoption.”

“Robotic automation can be utilized at many steps in the manufacturing process, particularly in welding and material handling, as many of Motoman’s current customers in the renewable energy field have already discovered. We expect this trend to continue as Motoman serves the needs of solar, wind and other green industries,” Shumaker adds.

Seeing Green
The 2009 International Robot, Vision & Motion Control Show and Conference affords attendees an opportunity to look and learn about green technologies and other advances in manufacturing.

One session, “Robots and Vision in a Green Manufacturing World,” looks at how robotics can help fabricate green technologies, particularly alternative energy sources such as wind turbines, solar panels and fuel cells. This session is scheduled for Tuesday, June 9, 1:00-3:00 p.m.

PIAB will be among the businesses that will have a demonstration at the show. Andrew Lovell gives a brief description of what his company will have in store for visitors. “PIAB’s demonstrations will highlight the benefits of optimized robotic system design, and the effects on energy and performance. PIAB also will be spotlighting a new friction suction cup design, which has greater holding power with oily sheet metal.” Lovell says these new suction cups reduce the energy needed to handle oil-coated sheet metal in a manufacturing environment. “PIAB’s new suction cups perform at a high level for longer periods of time, keeping replacement costs to a minimum and reducing the waste associated with discarding old cups.”

The benefits of attending the Robot, Vision & Motion Control Show are numerous. Greg Hollows of Edmund Optics says, “We attend the show because it is an educational experience, and attending allows us to help people who want to use machine vision. Many potential end-users of machine vision do not understand its nuances and capabilities or how to mix and match products correctly to meet their needs.” Hollows says that users of machine vision need to understand how it functions to be confident that it will work.

Hollows cites another reason to attend the show saying, “Due to instability in the automotive sector, we want a chance to get feedback and find out what is happening on the ground level. Because economic events are happening so fast, we sometimes find difficulty getting enough detailed information of what is happening in the automotive sector.”

Hollows concludes stressing, “Edmund Optics has a feel for what is happening in the automotive industry, but talking directly to people is better. We want to understand what is gong on so that we can develop new products or go in a different direction to effectively meet our customer’s needs.”

Baldor’s John Mazurkiewicz states his company will debut some new products at the show. “Baldor recently introduced smaller motors, motors with stainless steel gear-heads, and a line of stainless steel servo motors. Because only a handful of companies offer stainless steel servo motors, we have found a market for such products in robotic food handling applications.” Baldor will demonstrate their stainless steel servos, which can withstand wash-down pressures of 1,500 pounds per square inch. Mazurkiewicz says the characteristics of stainless steel are different from an iron or steel housing surrounding the motor, both magnetically and thermally.

Go Green, Stay Green
The direction toward green manufacturing will prove to be a long-term trend. “Because the trend toward green manufacturing is emerging so rapidly, flexible robots are an excellent tool for manufacturing. Having robots as part of the production process, even in the early stages of development or refinement, helps reduce the time to market of green products,” says Christopher Blanchette of FANUC.

FANUC Robotics Introduces World’s Strongest, Super Heavy-Duty Robot

FANUC Robotics America Inc. introduced the new M-2000iA/1200 super heavy-duty robot, able to lift parts weighing up to 1350 kg (3,000 lbs) at the 2009 International Robots & Vision Motion Control Show at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont (Chicago) IL, June 9-11, booth #1411.

“The M-2000iA/1200 has the highest payload and the strongest wrist compared to all other electric six-axis robots available today,” said Ian Orr, product manager, FANUC Robotics. “It can support a 1350 kg payload with a 0.6 m offset from the faceplate and full articulated motion at the wrist. One M-2000iA/1200 robot can handle a super heavy part, which previously required dual robots, conveyors, lifts and other fixed automation.”

The new M-2000iA/1200 is the second in FANUC Robotics’ line of heavy-duty robots designed to handle truck, tractor, and automotive frames, and other large castings. The M-2000iA/900L robot, offering a 900 kg payload (1,984 lbs) was introduced at IMTS 2008. The rigid arm design of the M-2000iA/900L has a vertical lifting stroke of 6.2 m for transferring extremely heavy items such as a car body.

At the show, the new M-2000iA/1200 equipped with iRVision® 2D error proofing and Dual Check Safety (DCS) Speed and Position Check Software will demonstrate its high capacity payload and wrist by loading and unloading a machine tool bed weighing 1350 kg into a machine tool. The robot will transfer the machine tool bed in front of a 2D camera, and iRVision error proofing inspects the part for proper machining of T-Slot guideways that hold tools.

The M-2000iA/1200, like all FANUC robots, operates with the company’s latest R-30iA controller with integrated intelligent functions such as vision and force sensing.

M-2000iA - key features and benefits:

* M-2000iA/900L standard payload is 900kg
* M-2000iA/1200 standard payload is 1200 kg with a1350 kg payload option
* Vertical lifting stroke of 6.2 m (M-2000iA/900L)
* Rigid arm offers stable transferring of heavy payloads
* Strongest wrist in the world handles super heavy products with stability
* Wrist is IP67 protected for operation in harsh environments
* Built-in vision and force sensing
* Reduces costs associated with fixed automation

Integrated (built-in) Vision
The FANUC iRVision system is a ready-to-use robotic vision package, available on all FANUC robots, requiring only a camera and cable – no additional processing hardware. It has a 2D robot guidance tool to accomplish part location, error proofing, and other operations that normally require special sensors or custom fixtures. For robotic vision processes that exceed the capability of 2D vision systems, FANUC Robotics offers an integrated 3D vision system.

Dual Check Safety (DCS) Speed and Position Check Software
Prior to the application of safety rated robot software, all safeguarding of the robot needed to be external, either as a safety rated limit switch or cam system, safety rated area scanners, or other devices to limit robot travel or enhance protection. DCS safety rated robot software allows the safety design of the robot system to use the robot itself for some of the safety functions.

The most significant benefit of DCS Speed and Position Check is in applications where the travel of the robot needs to be restricted due to floor space or process limits that are less than the full reach of the robot. Restricting the robot motion in Cartesian space means the robot can be restrained to exactly the area in which it works; something that is not possible with the current systems that limit robot motion externally using limit switches.

“By moving some of the safety functions to within the robot, customers will realize significant savings in floor space, flexibility in system layout, reduced hardware costs, and improved reliability,” said Claude Dinsmoor, general manager, controller product development, FANUC Robotics.

In addition, safe "zones" can be enabled and disabled from an external source such as a safety PLC. Designing a system with multiple zones means an operator can safely enter and leave the workspace of the robot.

“This streamlines the design of robot cells because it prevents the robot from entering the load area when an operator is present,” added Dinsmoor. This type of application is possible with existing technology, but it is typically difficult to setup, expensive to implement, and requires more floor space than a system using DCS.”

Automated guided vehicle for industries

Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) increase efficiency and reduce costs by helping to automate a manufacturing facility or warehouse.

AGVs can carry loads or tow objects behind them in trailers to which they can autonomously attach. The trailers can be used to move raw materials or finished product. The AGV can also store objects on a bed. The objects can be placed on a set of motorized rollers (conveyor) and then pushed off by reversing them. Some AGVs use fork lifts to lift objects for storage. AGVs are employed in nearly every industry, including, pulp, paper, metals, newspaper, and general manufacturing. Transporting materials such as food, linen or medicine in hospitals is also done.

An AGV can also be called a laser guided vehicle (LGV) or self-guided vehicle (SGV). In Germany the technology is also called Fahrerlose Transportsysteme (FTS) and in Sweden förarlösa truckar. Lower cost versions of AGVs are often called Automated Guided Carts (AGCs) and are usually guided by magnetic tape. AGCs are available in a variety of models and can be used to move products on an assembly line, transport goods throughout a plant or warehouse, and deliver loads to and from stretch wrappers and roller conveyors.

The first AGV was brought to market in the 1950s, by Barrett Electronics of Northbrook, Illinois, and at the time it was simply a tow truck that followed a wire in the floor instead of a rail. Over the years the technology has become more sophisticated and today automated vehicles are mainly Laser navigated e.g. LGV (Laser Guided Vehicle). In an automated process, LGVs are programmed to communicate (via an offboard server) with other robots to ensure product is moved smoothly through the warehouse, whether it is being stored for future use or sent directly to shipping areas. Today, the AGV plays an important role in the design of new factories and warehouses, safely moving goods to their rightful destinations.

In the late 20th century AGVs took on new rolls as ports began turning to this technology to move ISO shipping containers. The Port of Rotterdam employs well over 100 AGVs.

AGV applications are seemingly endless as capacities can range from just a few pounds to hundreds of tons.

Water jet cutting machine

In the battle to reduce costs, engineering and manufacturing departments are constantly on the lookout for an edge. The waterjet process provides many unique capabilities and advantages that can prove very effective in the cost battle. Learning more about the waterjet technology will give you an opportunity to put these cost-cutting capabilities to work.

Beyond cost cutting, the waterjet process is recognized as the most versatile and fastest growing process in the world (per Frost & Sullivan and the Market Intelligence Research Corporation). Waterjets are used in high production applications across the globe. They compliment other technologies such as milling, laser, EDM, plasma and routers. No noxious gases or liquids are used in waterjet cutting, and waterjets do not create hazardous materials or vapors. No heat effected zones or mechanical stresses are left on a waterjet cut surface. It is truly a versatile, productive, cold cutting process.

The waterjet has shown that it can do things that other technologies simply cannot. From cutting whisper thin details in stone, glass and metals; to rapid hole drilling of titanium; to cutting of food, to the killing of pathogens in beverages and dips, the waterjet has proven itself unique.

The water jet cutting machine u can take as your final year engg. project if you r in mechanical/mechatronic branch and this only machine in which you can say that "WHAT YOU CAN DRAW WE CAN CUT IT"

Thursday, August 6, 2009

FANUC Robots Assemble An Army of Terminators in Terminator Salvation

FANUC Robotics America, Inc., the world’s leading supplier of industrial robots, has a starring role assembling an army of Terminators in Warner Brothers’ Terminator Salvation.

FANUC Robots assemble terminators in Terminator Salvation“We provided a total of 18 FANUC robots including eight M-710iC/50, six M-10iA and four M-410iB robots for the production,” said Jonathan Perez, district manager at FANUC Robotics’ West facility in Orange County, CA.

Perez and other FANUC engineers provided technical support on the movie’s SKYNET set where FANUC robots welded Terminators on a moving hanging conveyor, and painted completed human-like Terminators at the end of the production line.

“The FANUC models had a refined clean-room look that worked perfectly for our sophisticated laboratory set, where the T-800 Terminator of the future is assembled. I could see them at work in an application that was meant to be an assembly line for the most technologically advanced Terminator models,” said Victor Zolfo, Terminator Salvations’ Academy Award-winning set decorator.

“Our experience with FANUC was excellent from start to finish - everything we were promised and shown by Jonathan Perez was delivered and functioned as promised. On a movie set there are always last minute adjustments and tweaking required, and the technicians were very cooperative and helpful on a daily basis, added Zolfo.

FANUC Robots have appeared in a wide variety of entertainment productions, including an ad to promote the third season of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew. The ad, called "Factory Perfection", was filmed at FANUC Robotics’ West facility features dancing from Super Cr3w and swaying from the robots.

According to Zolfo, the crew was impressed with the FANUC robots and the way they were seamlessly integrated into the story. “I have heard many critics praise the strong production value of the film and I believe the incorporation of functioning robotics really helped to sell the fantasy. I was very pleased overall with our relationship with FANUC and hope to be able to partner with the company again.”

FANUC Robotics America, Inc. designs, engineers and manufactures industrial robots and robotic systems for a wide range of applications including arc and spot welding, material handling (machine tending, picking, packing, palletizing), material removal, assembly, paint finishing and dispensing. The company also provides application-specific software, controls, vision products, and complete support services. After 27 years of success, FANUC Robotics maintains its position as the leading robotics company in the Americas. A subsidiary of FANUC LTD in Japan, the company is headquartered in Detroit, and has facilities in Chicago; Los Angeles; Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati and Toledo, Ohio; Toronto; Montreal; Aguascalientes, Mexico; and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Over 200,000 FANUC robots are installed worldwide. Contact FANUC Robotics at, or 1-800-iQ-ROBOT, option 5.