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04. May 2010

Robot use is becoming increasingly easier

Robot use is becoming increasingly easier

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Robot use is becoming increasingly easier
– the trade fair AUTOMATICA presents the world's large range of robots and current trends.

Munich. Production companies have been subject to continually increasing cost pressures for many years. In addition, many markets demand a great deal of product variety, which results in increasingly small batch sizes that have to be produced profitably. Conventional production processes often reach their limits here. On the other hand, however, the door to success is frequently opened to companies that are not afraid of automation and open to the use of modern, flexible robot technology. The most up-to-date information will be available at the leading international trade fair for automation and mechatronics, AUTOMATICA 2010, which will take place on the grounds of the New Munich Trade Fair Centre from 8 to 11 June 2010.

The claim that robotics is a highly complex technology, difficult to master and expensive on top of that has long since become outdated. The sales figures increasing year by year have caused prices for robots to sink, and operating costs are also moderate compared to the provided performance. Reiner Hänel, Senior Product Manager of the Factory Automation European Business Group at Mitsubishi Electric, named figures: "Calculated precisely, there are actually only running costs of approximately 1.50 euros per hour for robot use."


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Example servo motor production in small series, many variations and global competition make high demands on the manufacturing industry. But the automation and robotics, especially the ready economic solutions. Image: Mitsubishi Electric.


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Easy communication between the robot control and CNC - Fanuc given in house off - takes machine tool users the fears before the use of robots. Image: Fanuc Robotics.

More intelligence instead of plug & play
Robot manufacturers are also working continually on simplifying use of their products. There will probably never be a standard robot, which functions as a plug & play solution as in the consumer goods industry. Industrial production is just too complex for that. However, Gerald Mies, Managing Director of Fanuc Robotics Deutschland GmbH, has another vision: "The development speed of the robotics industry is currently so high that robots are becoming continuously more intelligent. Thanks to the gained intelligence, robots can be integrated flexibly and adapted to different products. As a result, I believe the future belongs to intelligent and flexible robots."

Use of robots has been greatly simplified over the past decade thanks to application software packages. Pre-programmed solutions for specific industries such as handling or welding can be adapted without problems to the respective application. Machine vision integrated into controls provides additional simplification, for example, for position detection. Consequently, robots can take parts directly from a belt; comprehensive peripheral devices for separating parts become superfluous.

For example, 3D simulation software provided by robot manufacturers contributes to simple planning and operation startup of robots. Robots can be programmed in advance with their help. Any design errors can be detected at an early stage, and the time until operation startup can be reduced. Even energy consumption can be calculated and optimised in the new version of the Fanuc Software Roboguide.

Simple operation startup, programming and handling
 
Robot expert Reiner Hänel, Mitsubishi Electric, also believes that simple operation startup, programming and handling are a trend in robotics and significant for developing new application fields. Mr. Hänel argues: "Such progress can convince precisely those users who have rejected robot use until now for fear of the complex requirements. The inhibition threshold for replacement or new use of robots will decline perceptibly." Mitsubishi Electric wants to contribute to that with its control platform "iQ-Platform", among other things. It integrates four control types (SPS, CNC, servo/motion and robots) product-overlapping, which simplifies operation startup of complex production processes significantly.


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The control platform "iQ Platform integrates all products from Mitsubishi Electric four types of controllers (PLC, CNC, Servo / Motion and robots), which simplifies the operation of complex production processes significantly.
 

Manz Automation Tübingen GmbH is betting on simple operation startup and handling; it uses robots in automation components in complete production systems, among other things. Manz is considered a specialist for developing and producing system solutions, quality assurance and laser process technology. Sales Manager Uwe Buck confirmed: "Our customers expect complete system solutions from us that are easy to use. This means intensive collaboration with customers to generate an economical overall solution."


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Highly flexible robotic systems for rapid handling of delicate parts. Image: Manz
 

The core competences of Manz are in the areas of robotics, machine vision, laser and control systems technology. Manz is betting on its own developments in these areas. "Control systems technology especially plays an important role," Uwe Buck explained. "With our own control system, aico.control, we are able to control the complete system including robots and all peripheral devices in the environment."


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An integrated in the control image processing that is used for position verification or quality assurance simplified the production process. Image: Fanuc Robotics

AUTOMATICA – meeting place of the international robotics community
Profitable production of small series and a high number of product variants will remain a pivotal challenge for the automation industry over the coming years.

Dr. Michael Wenzel, Managing Director of Reis GmbH & Co. KG in Obernburg and Chairperson of the VDMA trade association Robotics + Automation, predicted: "Company size will be increasingly less important for success in the future, and instead speed and flexibility to adapt to increasingly dynamic markets will become the main factors." He is convinced "that the manufacturers of robotics and automation have the high degree of skill to master the challenges of manufacturing technology in this respect. Visitors to AUTOMATICA in Munich from 8 until 11 June can see this for themselves. Fundamental ideas for stimulating the market will come from there."

Exhibitor Gerald Mies, Fanuc Robotics, agrees with him: "AUTOMATICA has already become established as the largest robot trade fair in the world after the second time it was held. It has become the exhibition for robotics where customers can obtain information industry-overlapping about the latest developments."

Approximately eight weeks before the start of the next AUTOMATICA, 600 renowned exhibitors from 42 countries have confirmed their participation. This includes all leading manufacturers of industrial robots such as ABB, Adept, Comau, Denso, Epson, FANUC Robotics, KUKA Roboter, Kawasaki, Motoman, Mitsubishi, Stäubli and Reis Robotics.

The "Service Robotics Innovation Platform" is an integral component of AUTOMATICA, at which leading robot manufacturers, component suppliers and research institutes from Europe and overseas present the state-of-the-art of international service robotics. The Fraunhofer IPA is responsible for ensuring that the most up-to-date state of service robotics is presented clearly.

The most important robotics conference worldwide, "ISR/ROBOTIK 2010", is taking place within the framework of AUTOMATICA. The participants at the conference, composed of the International Symposium on Robotics 2010 (ISR) and ROBOTIK 2010, will meet at the International Congress Center (ICM) on the grounds of the New Munich Trade Fair Centre 7 to 9 June 2010. As a result, the "Who is Who" of the international robotics community from research and industry will meet at AUTOMATICA in Munich in June 2010.

Further information on AUTOMATICA 2010: www.automatica-munich.com

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