Corporate Robotics Teams

Customers

Manufacturing

Stop Wasting Time with Robot Programming

Robotics engineering teams need more capacity than ever, but traditional integration models mean that your work is always slower than you’d like. Whether it’s for traditional or High-Mix scenarios, AutonomyOS™ is truly an enabler for your team to do more.

Increase Capacity and Productivity

By allowing robots to function according to the real shape and position of parts WITHOUT any prior programming, AutonomyOS™ gives engineering teams the ability to improve their own capacity and take on more projects with ease while also fulfilling the automation needs of their firm.

Make Duplication Easy

Because AutonomyOS™ allows robots to adapt to unstructured environments, no two environments or processes have to be the same – you can still put to work the same behaviors and process models that you used before! This is a big step forward for any manufacturer with multiple facilities.

Key Benefits

Build autonomous applications with AutonomyStudio™ and magnify the capacity of your team, to infinity… and beyond!

Don't Waste Time Programming

Duplicate Projects Easily

Increase Productivity and Capacity

Meet Corporate Goals Faster

Alleviating the Skills Shortage in Robotics

While the frontline workforce faces constant shortages, automation experts also face shortages of their own. With AutonomyOS™, those shortages can be overcome through a powerful platform. Contact Omnirobotic today and let’s work together!


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Automation Component OEMs

Customers

Automation Component OEMs

Finally Sell Robots to High-Mix Customers

Most robot manufacturers and distributors have always had to tell High-Mix customers that “robots aren’t for you”. With support for your equipment built into AutonomyOS™, you can leverage a powerful new tool to finally master the challenges of High-Mix, and reap the rewards on equipment sales.

Create Defensibility, Reduce Risk

AutonomyOS™ is a flexible solution and works in markets that don’t have the same precise expectations that traditional roboticists are used to. This means that you can diversify your customer base, provide easier projects to integrators and have tools to act with agility when new competition emerges.

Gain Ground in Key Applications

Every robot manufacturer has their niche markets, and nobody wants to see a repeatable use case under threat. With AutonomyOS™, you can sell more turnkey systems and give more repeatable use cases to integrators in your most profitable applications.

Key Benefits

Our partners are the key to enabling more manufacturers to use robotics. At the same time, partners benefit most of all. 

Master New Markets

Protect Your Existing Business

Give Integrators Powerful Tools

Find Repeatable Application Sales

A Shot in the Arm for the Robotics Industry

Robot autonomy isn’t far off in the future… it’s here! We want to allow the entire ecosystem to grow, not fall for the winner-take-all errors of the past. Contact Omnirobotic today and let’s work together!


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Integrators and System Builders

Customers

Integrators and System Builders

Open a New Market to Robotic Automation

AutonomyOS™ and AutonomyStudio™ let you build autonomous robotic systems for High-Mix manufacturers. Nearly 80% of manufacturers don’t have environments that work with robots, but not with Omnirobotic in hand!

Deliver Projects in Less Time with Better Margins

AutonomyOS™ takes the programming and jigging out of robotic system integration. This means that your team can realize more projects in a shorter amount of time through the power of AI. With AutonomyStudio™, control specialists can demonstrate the behavior of autonomous robotic systems to the end-user virtually, early in the project, reducing upfront risk and minimizing startup time at the end-user facility: less production disruption for your customer, higher margin for you.

Build Solutions with Zero Cash Down

We want to work hand in hand with integrators, not add to their burden. That’s why Omnirobotic only collects revenue from licensed end users. This allows us to support our technology and lets you the peace of mind to do what you love: building great systems!

Key Benefits

With AutonomyOS™ and AutonomyStudio™, integrators don’t just have a new set of tools, but a new and easier way to sell – with fewer end-customer requirements.

New Markets, Better Margin

Less Work Per Project

Keep Building Your Niche

Zero Cash Down to Build Solutions

Empower More Clients to do More

If you’re a robotic integrator or machine builder, you might benefit from working with us – we certainly have plenty of leads for you! Contact Omnirobotic today!


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Why Autonomous Paint Robots Are Your Most Versatile Choice for Paint Automation

Paint automation is a fickle beast — too much spray and you get drip, too little spray or too slow and you can get dry spray, inconsistencies, and rejections that require you to execute the whole process over again.

While powder coating and other spray media can be more forgiving in actual application, the capacity to automate today is almost as difficult. Automated powder coating booths with reciprocating arms and varied production lots offer a variety of creative approaches to successful coating automation, but they have clear limits around the shape, size, position, and detail required on each and every part.

In place of what’s most commonly available today, autonomous paint robots allow you to adapt to the varied needs of your production environment — whether in aerospace, heavy equipment, metal fabrication, or more — and instead of bumping up on the limits of automation, empower their workforce to do more. 

Autonomous Paint Robots Let You Work in a High-Mix Environment

Autonomous paint robots aren’t like traditional robots – they don’t require precision fixturing, jigging, or elaborate programming.

How is this possible? Autonomous robots can either use live 3D Perception technology or a CAD file injected into a Digital Twin to locate and understand the shape and position of parts. From there, their intelligence can help automate the robot programming in real-time, which means the robot paints what it sees — and it can do it according to your actual instructions!

This intelligence doesn’t come easy, however. Omnirobotic’s AutonomyOS™ is the only integration method that allows autonomous robots to function in real-time for value-added spray processes. 

This technology is, at its heart, powered by Omnirobotic’s autonomous robotics platform. This platform allows manufacturers, integrators, and almost anybody to build and deploy autonomous robotic systems no matter what they want to throw at it, meaning that when you start working with autonomous paint robots, you can take the lessons you learn (and the benefits!) to other parts of your factory floor!

Autonomous Paint Robots Enable Significant Quality Improvements

With autonomous paint robots, you finally have access to robots without the pains of programming, jigging, and more. Robots can function almost exactly like skilled laborers would, except while retaining the improved quality, consistency, and productivity that robots are already known for. 

Why is this the case? Robots programmed algorithmically will always follow the same principles, while manual programming introduces its own form of human error. While artfulness is the benefit of human ingenuity, you shouldn’t expect everybody to be comfortable working 8-hour shifts on a paint line day-in and day-out — especially if you expect every piece to be perfect. 

In place of dull, tedious, and tiresome jobs, your skilled workers — already in short supply — can be moved to different parts of your facility where they have more capacity to design, create and validate the work that autonomous robots are doing. The quality comes with the territory, but the quality of life is what you’ll notice most!

Autonomy Can Reduce Rework, Waste, and Overspray

While the benefits of autonomous robots over a thinning skilled workforce are multiple, the add-ons truly allow the overall payback of the systems and cost savings to become comprehensive. 

First, the quality and consistency improvements that come with autonomous robots enable one benefit above all: reduced rework, waste, and rejections of parts.

This is often the most costly aspect of any production line because of the amount of coordination, energy, and attention to detail it requires. While rework can compose 5 or 10% of a production’s volume, the need to touch up or completely redo parts can make up to 20 or 30% of your regular operating expenses.

At the same time, overspray is another quality issue that comes with a “hidden waste” of coatings. Each coating — whether paint or powder — has very specific requirements that mean any coating over the necessary thickness is effectively waste.

For instance, in traditional powder coating, an operation can often leave up to 30 to 50% excess coating on targeted parts. This excess thickness is effectively waste. For a medium-sized powder coating shop (2 lines with 2 shifts), reducing this coating excess by half can save $1 million per year or more. 

With these side benefits, operational expenses don’t just go down, but the rate of payback for robotic deployment accelerates rapidly.

Paint Shop Automation Has Never Been More Accessible

Robotics has dominated automotive and consumer electronics manufacturing for decades, but that is only about 20% of manufacturing in North America. While other manufacturing sectors struggle with reliable, flexible automation systems, autonomous robots for value-added processes represent a game-changer for any manufacturer looking to automate efficiently.

We call this the “Autonomous Manufacturing Future”, but there’s no reason you can’t start with it today. Contact us with your spray process, its requirements, or with ideas on what project you want to build using our autonomous robotics engine and we can help you get started!

With AutonomyOS™ and AutonomyStudio™, it’s never been easier to deploy an autonomous robotic system. Using 3D Perception with AI-based Task Planning and Motion Planning, manufacturing engineers and integrators can configure autonomous robotic systems for value-added processes that allow manufacturers to achieve more consistency and flexibility in production than ever before.

Spray Process Automation Buyer’s Guide

There are a variety of different spray process automation needs, focused primarily on what approach you need to take. In order to determine your needs, you must consider the following:

  • How much volume or how many shifts are required
  • Is there a high detail or high throughput workflow that is called for
  • Is automation necessary due to local conditions, safety, or lack of skills
  • Do you have a large variation in parts or significant variation over 10-20 years

Most systems are purchased with at least a 10+ year timeline in mind. This is because of the extensive construction and equipment required for startup. In order for any spray system to pay off, it must be rationalized on a multi-year approach, where operating expenses can be used to balance against the total capital expense cost of equipment.

As such, there are a handful of methods you can use to automate spray processes. If you already have your production needs in mind, keep an eye out for what system might work below.

Single-Arm Batch Booths

If your spray process involves abrasive media or other particular “dirty” and uncomfortable systems — or simply highly sticky media and hot temperatures — a single-robot arm batch booth (two robots will also do) can be the best way to address your automation needs. 

Typically, a robotic system will only address parts adequately if they are pre-programmed, whether manually, offline, with a teach pendant, hand guiding, or other simple means. In a batch booth situation with an abrasive, low-precision process, this can be entirely useful to a manufacturer.

In situations where high precision is needed and programming and jigging can’t be generated for each and every part, autonomous systems that automate robot programming and positioning may be a better choice in these circumstances. 

Automated Coating Booths

For parts that have simple convex shapes, limited variation, and must be sprayed or coated in high volume, automated coating booths with reciprocating arms can be used to essentially “blanket” the target part in coatings or media. 

Obviously, this can create some waste, but if a “reclaim” powder booth is used with limited color variation (to prevent contamination), then this waste is minimized. In these cases, most of the waste will actually come from the overcoat on the target part. Most parts will be accepted by a customer or final assembler with a minimal thickness applied, which means overcoat is rarely necessary unless it is specifically requested. 

The exception is that these systems can typically start at a cost of $1 million or more, which means high volume and low variation are absolutely essential to justify costs. 

Conveyor Belt and Dispensing Systems

Conveyor-based systems with various dispensing mechanisms can satisfy fine or high-precision spray and lubrication processes. These processes are typically found in mass production processes like consumer goods and electronics, but choosing the right system is essential given the volume of coatings that is ultimately applied.

Nordson, Graco and Sames Kremlin are among some of the best providers of these kinds of technologies and machines, and unless cleanroom manufacturing is required, costs can be fairly low. 

Continuous Robotic Automation

With an overhead conveyor, whether stop and go or continuous, but a high degree of part variation, an autonomous robotic system is the only choice. If you are choosing racks or jigs that are repeatable and predictable, programming robots may be possible (e.g. less than 10 new parts or SKUs per year).

A two robot setup will be cost-competitive with the cheapest automated coating booths, whereas conveyor construction can be expensive for a full facility but is obviously useful in a variety of applications as needed.

If you really want to think about spray process automation for the long term, contact us to learn more.

With AutonomyOS™ and AutonomyStudio™, it’s never been easier to deploy an autonomous robotic system. Using 3D Perception with AI-based Task Planning and Motion Planning, manufacturing engineers and integrators can configure autonomous robotic systems for value-added processes that allow manufacturers to achieve more consistency and flexibility in production than ever before. 

Optimizing Transfer Efficiency With a Robotic Cell

Industrial-scale operations require industrial-scale solutions. One of these comes with powder and other forms of coating where transfer efficiency is key.

Transfer efficiency is usually defined as a ratio between coating material that sticks to an object vs the total weight of coating used in a process interval. This is generally expressed as a percentage. For example, if only half the coating makes it onto the part being processed, that could be considered a transfer efficiency of 50%. The more that makes it onto the part, the higher that percentage.

Where Transfer Efficiency Is Important

For a few reasons, powder coating transfer efficiency may not need to be particularly high. Some powder coating booths allow for the recovery of material, although color changes can lead to contamination that ultimately compromises the whole endeavor of material recovery.

This is where the challenge becomes impactful. For even an average powder coating shop, spending $1 million or more per year on powder is not uncommon. If within this expense, 50% or more of the material is wasted, this can be incredibly burdensome for a small or medium-sized business. 

When we consider larger shops which may be running 2 or 3 shifts on multiple lines, 6 or even 7 days per week throughout the year — these enterprise-grade production environments can be spending tens of millions or more coating complex part shapes where faraday caging and unique targeting challenges make powder waste a huge cost. Often the biggest cost in powder is simply in finding enough skilled labor to get enough material on the part. 

What Is a Good Transfer Efficiency

Good transfer efficiency is generally considered to be 65% and up. This is because of a few things, including the need to overspray faraday caging areas in order to ensure that sufficient coating can adhere to the part. Generally, powder as a material can be a little cheaper than paint — particularly specialized industrial paints — so those using powder coating in manufacturing are able to spray more liberally and less accurately than they might for conventional paint.

That being said, high transfer efficiency is always more desirable in the sense that more powder on target is better. The challenge again becomes that if too much powder is deposited on the target parts, then money is wasted for every pound of powder that is in excess of what is required by the customer or the overall production process. 

Transfer efficiency overall can be improved by increasing voltage or improving the grounding of your operation as well as overall design or “batch run” improvements that optimize how your coating process works according to the shape of your parts, but these specific improvements can vary according to the specifics of a certain production. For more on how to improve the fundamentals of your powder coating booth, the Powder Coating Institute can be one of the best resources out there!

How Is Powder Coating Done Today

Powder coating is done today through two primary means: handheld, pressure pot-driven systems and automated booths utilizing overhead conveyors, reciprocating arms and quick color change or rapid recovery additions.

For manual coating, the process can be challenging in that workers must wear protective equipment since inhaling powder coating is essentially toxic, while said equipment can also reduce the desirability or accuracy in doing a manual powder coating job. Secondly, the equipment used has to be safe within the bounds of human presence and then essentially relies on lower pressure and volume of coating with a higher need to rest over trouble spots or faraday cages.

When it comes to automated systems, higher volume and broader distribution of coatings are achievable through automated arms that have a consistent 24/7 output. Maintenance on these systems is minimal, but accuracy according to uniquely-shaped parts or parts with varied cavities can be a challenge. In this context, many vendors still provide systems with light screens or other vision components that can overcome the limitations of some part nuances, and while these can work within specific scopes or for most manufacturers’ needs, many may still find themselves returning to manual coating or touch up for trouble parts. 

How a Robotic System Can Help

A robotic system can help improve powder coating in both transfer efficiency and in reducing unnecessary overcoat by better targeting coating according to the shape of a part. If, for instance, 35% of coating is lost due to mixing and another 15 or 20% to overcoat, the savings of reducing these losses by even 50% respectively can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for even the smallest powder coating production. 

The challenge in incorporating robotics, however, is that each robot needs specific programming and jigging in order to be effective for individual parts. For mass manufacturers or those working with highly specialized, expensive coatings with very low part mix, this could allow some to benefit from robotics. However, the real challenge here is that most coaters who use A LOT of coating have a lot of different parts to process, meaning traditional robotics may not really have the answer they’re looking for. 

Why Autonomous Robotics Is the Next Step

Autonomous robotics is different because it’s based on the concept that a robot can be programmed automatically, in real-time, based on simple instructions or parameters driven by the manufacturer. In these circumstances, autonomous robots are able to adapt to the variations in part shapes that most need without compromising the consistency, reliability, or precise output that robots are generally known for.

With this in mind, it’s important for coaters to consider what the real scale of their needs is. If it’s simply one or two robots on a single production line, the autonomy to power them and save those hundreds of thousands (or more) per year may actually be cheaper than you think. 

With AutonomyOS™ and AutonomyStudio™, it’s never been easier to deploy an autonomous robotic system. Using 3D Perception with AI-based Task Planning and Motion Planning, manufacturing engineers and integrators can configure autonomous robotic systems for value-added processes that allow manufacturers to achieve more consistency and flexibility in production than ever before.

Which Industrial Paint Robots Work Best?

While many can often think of robots as far off, futuristic, unrealistic or attainable technology, robots have in fact existed as an industry for more than 50 years. And yes, while autonomous robots that fight crime and solve mysteries may be far off, we’re actually approaching an age where these robots we’ve conventionally ignored can conduct tasks autonomously as well.

In all the time that the robotics market has taken to develop, they have evolved from general to many specific and purpose-built uses and designs. Specific robot models are designed to lift many thousands of pounds, conduct precise operations in very low tolerance ranges, transfer materials at high speed, execute welding or other complex and caustic processes, and do it all within standardization and compliance ranges that ensure they can safely function for decades on end. 

What Makes a Paint Robot Different

Paint robots have to have the appropriate performance, but also the right equipment. Range, reach, speed and degrees of freedom all make a difference – this means that a paint robot won’t support a large payload, just enough for the right tooling, paint or powder gun – but it will need to be fast and reliable in terms of position. 

This is critical for two reasons: accuracy (or complete coverage) and avoiding dry spray. Dry spray can happen in many contexts where, if a paint or coating system is not fast and efficient enough, it will leave parts of the surface to dry while others are still wet. This is difficult when coatings are particularly thin, which is often the case in industrial manufacturing (no worse waste than excess). 

While this is most common in humid environments, the reliability of paint robots to achieve an accurate spray with aggressive settings is essential because – in order to realize significant quality and efficiency improvements over human operators – being able to function at a high level in adverse conditions is essential.

Finally, whether there is a paint pump, a powder mixer or another mix and feed system, paint robots work best when they have a hollow wrist to allow for easy tube management and feeding through the end-effector position of the robot. These robots further require explosion proofing for caustic, flammable or highly volatile coatings (which includes most industrial paints in liquid form). 

What is explosion-proofing?

Explosion-proofing works by effectively forming a pressurized jacket within the casing of the robot. A safety mechanism manages this pressure to ensure that it is constant. If there is a collision or other instance of depressurization, the power source to the entire robot is cut off. 

This may seem drastic, but why is this the case? Robots have active motors that can, in certain conditions, produce a short circuit which could ignite atomized coatings in the air. If said coatings would infiltrate a non-explosion-proofed robot, this would cause an explosion that would destroy the robot and most materials in the paint booth while also posing risks to the health and safety of everyone in the facility. 

Finally, software that can allow you to program (or even automate robot programming in real-time) is essential to driving the output of your paint robot. Depending on the number of parts and variations in your process, traditional programming approaches may not be cost-effective. This is where AutonomyOS™ and AutonomyStudio™ can help. 

What Brands have a Paint Robot

Almost every major industrial brand has its own paint robots, but ABB and FANUC have more than 90% of the market in North America. These robots have unparalleled reach and nimble designs which make them flexible and versatile for a variety of spraying applications, including the ability to flip over and use balanced-arm applications that provide more work volume and more versatility for skilled workers. 

Kawasaki, Yaskawa, Staubli and others of course have their own fine models of paint robots, but in order to best select your paint robot, considering whether your existing robot vendor meets your needs is the best approach as the complexity of going through multiple vendors, drivers, or programming methodologies is more trouble than its worth.

How to Get Started

In order to get started, the best choices are as follows:

  • Speak to your integrator
  • Speak to your OEM provider
  • Speak to a distributor or other expert who can ensure that the mechanical function of a particular robot model will meet your needs

Give and excess envelopes are always essential, even if a slightly higher price is called for. If your application is high-mix (e.g. more than 100 parts per year or batches under 1000) then traditional programming methods will likely create significant inefficiencies. In this context, self-programming or autonomous robotics technology is the most effective way to meet your spray needs – no matter what you want to throw at it!

With AutonomyOS™ and AutonomyStudio™, it’s never been easier to deploy an autonomous robotic system. Using 3D Perception with AI-based Task Planning and Motion Planning, manufacturing engineers and integrators can configure autonomous robotic systems for value-added processes that allow manufacturers to achieve more consistency and flexibility in production than ever before.

The Complete Starter’s Guide to Spray Metal Finishing

Before considering metal finishing for spray processes, it’s important to consider one thing: this is a “starter’s” guide. This doesn’t offer detailed engineering information. This also doesn’t offer safety or compliance standards nor does it offer a means to avoid health and safety risks or to improve an already existing complex process. There are an indefinite number of resources that are much better suited to that – we love the ones provided by PCI (the Powder Coating Institute). 

All that being said, if you’re producing any kind of metal product and looking to evaluate any kind of spray finishing process for metal – whether it’s liquid painting, powder coating or sandblasting – this article is a great place to start because we’re revolutionizing how manufacturers can approach these processes through robotics.

There are three primary spray processes applied in metal finishing: liquid paint, powder coating and sandblasting. Each has its own merit and goals — paint may be easier to repair or more forgiving where baking is not required, powder may function for higher volume and preferred materials, and sandblasting can provide the final finish that customers are looking for. Understanding how to maximize each process is critical to improving overall productivity. 

Liquid Paint Spray Metal Finishing

The primary goal of industrial paint is to provide both an aesthetic and materials-compliant finish that can be touched up or restored without significant challenge while also providing basic protection against surface damage and corrosion.

Paint is typically preferable for light-duty equipment or applications with defined maximum weights (often found in the aerospace industry). Generally, powder coating or other media (ecoat, thermal spray and more) are considered more useful, durable protective coatings for heavy-duty applications and equipment. However, these are also costly and difficult to touch up. 

For instance, why aren’t entire cars powder coated? Well, if a car gets into an accident and does have inevitable damage, the repair would entail re-coating the entire car and baking it to a finish. This may not be feasible or desirable given all the components that go into a finished car, where heavy equipment (like that for construction or snow removal) is usually practically-designed and has many replaceable parts, which means damage can justify rework, recoat or an entirely new part (not to mention that these types of goods don’t generally receive as much as “give” damage in a crash).

So, how do you know if liquid paint is your best spray metal finishing process? Here are a few tips:

  • The primary goal of your finish is aesthetic and you have multiple options
  • The material being coated is not resistant to high temperatures (e.g. 350 degrees Fahrenheit and up, as would apply to aluminium) that are required by alternatives like powder coating
  • High-gloss finish or easier touch-ups are more desired and preferred for the particular product being finished
  • You can’t afford the equipment that comes with powder recovery systems or you would prefer lower consumables costs overall

Powder Coat Spray Metal Finishing

Powder Coating is an electrostatic coating that is applied in a free-floating (but safely contained) environment to materials that can conduct electricity. This electromagnetic attraction allows the powder to “stick” to the surface of your metal products and then transit into a bake oven where the powder is essentially melted/”baked” on to produce a polymer-like finish after final cooling. 

Because of the nature of the coating, excess powder remains in the booth and as long as there is no cross-color contamination, it can be easily recovered and reused (with specialized equipment) to eliminate waste and reduce cleaning required in a booth.

Powder can also prove more durable in the long term, which is why it’s preferred for many applications from heavy equipment to fitness equipment to a variety of small tools and appliances that are deployed in rough circumstances. The total cost of powder can be much lower than paint in the long run, but equipment required may make start-up costs more expensive. 

At the same time, because powder sometimes requires a “spray and pray” approach, it can lead to excess coating beyond your actual thickness requirements. This is effectively the source of most “waste” in powder coating and even for small shops or lines can add up to hundreds of thousands in additional costs per year.

Overall, you should prefer powder for spray metal finishing if you need one of the following:

  • A strong, durable coating in a single color at a high volume
  • A matte-type finish with a fast, easy, forgiving and low-skilled application process
  • Highly automated coating with simple part shapes
  • Highly automated coating with complex part shapes (note: this is addressed through robotics rather than a fixed automated system, but the total price of each can actually be comparable)

Sandblasting Spray for Metal Finishing

Sandblasting or abrasive blasting is an important step that is sometimes the final one to spray metal finishing processes.

This can use a variety of different media to wear down, clean, smooth or flatten out a variety of surfaces in order to ensure that the final top-level coating applied can be sufficiently even to maximize results. 

As it happens, the way in which you want to achieve that best possible finish can vary depending on what media is best suited for the look. Everything from steel shot and grit to glass beads, different naturally occurring sands, walnut shells, corn cobs – all of these media and more enable you to achieve a refined look no matter what final finish you want to produce. 

Now, the challenge in sandblasting is more often how you want to apply this. A manual worker or generally automated systems can be helpful, but in situations where processes are predictable, robotics are generally preferred.

Processes must be very predictable for most robots, however. So, autonomous robots may actually be the best choice for highly varied sandblasting processes where parts or the shape of parts change frequently, but automation is still required. 

Taking Steps Towards a Robotic Process

While spray metal finishing requirements can vary both across and within industries, all industries are facing challenges in terms of both labor and skills shortages, as well as quality of output.

For both of these challenges, robotics is usually a compelling problem solver given its ability to predictably and reliably follow the same instructions over and over again.

Autonomous robots are able to provide this reliability and automation but actually adapt to different parts and circumstances without the need for manual programming or jigging – an opportunity to improve spray metal finishing processes far into the long term. 

With AutonomyOS™ and AutonomyStudio™, it’s never been easier to deploy an autonomous robotic system. Using 3D Perception with AI-based Task Planning and Motion Planning, manufacturing engineers and integrators can configure autonomous robotic systems for value-added processes that allow manufacturers to achieve more consistency and flexibility in production than ever before. Contact us for more info!

How Spraying Robots Improve Consistency

Robots are already well understood as productivity multipliers. Whether it’s on an assembly line or in a simple machine tending scenario, a robot can provide the ease of use and utility needed to do a simple task “on repeat” thousands of times, or even thousands of days on end.

When it comes to more complex value-adds like welding, actual machining or spray processes, the complexity of programming a robot becomes more challenging. When the parts change frequently, it becomes nearly impossible to use a robot – just storing all the jigs to position parts correctly can be an all-consuming task.

So, using a spray robot can help improve consistency, but using an autonomous spray robot can function even better. How is this possible? Autonomous robots can generate complete plans for themselves, which ultimately takes away the programming challenges and allows for the same level of consistency as parts vary. This ultimately gives your workforce more capability while improving your overall productivity and reducing rework. 

Generating a Complete Plan

An autonomous spray robot can SEE, PLAN and EXECUTE processes all on its own. All that’s required from operators is simple process instructions – the robot behavior – and potentially some oversight for high process compliance.

The SEE aspect relies on 3D Perception – depth vision cameras in multiple positions that enable the robot to identify parts in space and make evaluations about which faces to target, at what angles, and what position parts are in. This is all similar to how a human being visually assesses parts when they work in a paint shop, but the way in which decisions are actually made can be a lot more complicated.

The PLAN component of this process relies on the 3D Perception data a robot has, along with process constraints, requirements, targets or goals, behaviors (like standoff from a part or a spray gun cone) and a mix of AI and conventional algorithmic techniques to deduce the most efficient possible robot motion and generate a program for it.

Once all that computing takes place, autonomous robotics technology can EXECUTE a process by taking control of existing industrial robots, including those from brands like FANUC, ABB and more. By taking all of this into account, any type of part or part order can take on the same robotic consistency without the traditional limitations of robotics. 

Simplifying Existing Quality Challenges

By allowing robots to process parts the same way humans do, they can finally compensate for a lot of the limitations human painters face. What are some of the examples here? 

These include fatigue, inaccuracy, inconsistency, incorrect muscle memory and – everyone’s favorite – natural human error. These kinds of issues don’t happen with robots because they are entirely predictable machine systems. Their ability to adapt to different circumstances has been limited in the past because of the extensive programming requirements present in most, but with autonomy, that’s no longer a problem.

So, what happens when you combine the adaptability of humans with the consistency and reliability of a robot? Essentially, the best of both worlds, but you can actually overcome the quality limitations found in many high-mix productions while further reducing the constraints of skills shortages, general labor shortages, supply or consumable limitations and most of the inflexibility that is found in today’s higher volume manufacturing processes.

Giving Your Teams a More Relevant Role

By overcoming these dual limitations — machines that aren’t adaptable, humans that are unreliable — autonomous robots don’t just execute processes in a better way. They actually make it easier for humans to get better jobs and do more thanks to the productivity benefits of working with robots.

When you reduce the burden of highly physically demanding jobs that are ill-suited to human capabilities, you actually make your people more capable of managing new forms of automation, coming up with new approaches to your production and empowering your other team members with more insight on what can be done better.

Improving your Output and Reducing Rework

By reducing rework and improving the continuity of your production, you ultimately make it easier to meet demand, shorten lead times, manage labor challenges, and accelerate your growth. At the same time, the same technology can improve the performance of new processes over time, while also simplifying the ramp-up to new SKUs and productions. All of this makes for an autonomous manufacturing future that has never looked brighter!

With AutonomyOS™ and AutonomyStudio™, it’s never been easier to deploy an autonomous robotic system. Using 3D Perception with AI-based Task Planning and Motion Planning, manufacturing engineers and integrators can configure autonomous robotic systems for value-added processes that allow manufacturers to achieve more consistency and flexibility in production than ever before.

How Paint Robots Reduce Rework

There are few wild beasts more fearsome and concerning to the everyday finishing engineer than the dread three R’s: Rework, Rejections and RMAs. 

In finishing, particularly when it comes to spray processes, achieving the kind of consistency and quality customers expect requires a high degree of both reliability and precision. Experienced painters and operators – or elaborate automation systems – can be engineered to provide high output, but over time many parts will seep through the cracks and simply not get the attention they require.

It’s no wonder that production managers, control specialists and more are vexed by high rework, rejections and RMA rates, and are often looking for a simple solution that may still be out of reach: the paint robot. 

A paint robot is any robot that comes with appropriate dispensing control mechanisms (as well as explosion proofing based on a pressure-sensitive system that prevents any short circuits from combusting caustic spray materials), but a true paint robot requires some fine savvy, coordination and fixturing in order to achieve a consistent output simply not achievable without it.

Fortunately, however, autonomous paint robots are on the way and promise to help manufacturers achieve more and “finish” stronger!

Thinking About a Paint Robot

A paint robot can have a lot of different benefits to manufacturers of all sizes. The primary ones include but are not limited to:

  1. Increased productivity, consistency and uniformity due to a robot arm’s ability to work for years on end without taking a break
  2. Reduced energy and consumables consumption due to the efficiency and effectiveness of a robot in executing consistent work
  3. The unique ability of a robot to take on jobs that humans simply can’t do because of environmental constraints – or take on jobs that simply cause long term disease and illness among the workers who do them
  4. Improved consistency due to less rework and rejections or RMAs (Return Merchandise Authorizations). Particularly for contract manufacturers, this can be the biggest pain point of all. 

Of course, the most important thing to understand is that robots are predictable above all. But robots also require a predictable environment above all in order to work as well as they do. With this environment in question, a few things might get in the way of a paint robot being successfully deployed.

  1. A lot of part variation: this basically comes down to the cost of programming robot motions and tool actions for each individual part in order to achieve the finish you’re looking for – a very expensive and labor-intensive process
  2. Jigging or fixturing: robots are dumb and blind – they don’t execute pre-programmed motions with much intelligence, instead they simply play back whatever their instructions are. This is a challenge because, well, most businesses can’t fixture every single part they process within precise tolerances (e.g. less than 1 mm) in order to achieve the consistent finish they desire. A paint robot can’t help you if you can’t place parts the way it NEEDS them to be placed. 
  3. Management: robotic systems can require a lot of expertise. For instance, a “mostly autonomous” robotic solution might still require some fundamental programming which requires an internal skillset that suddenly becomes both a scarce commodity – and hence a business risk.

How Robots Compare to Existing Finishing Processes

Existing finishing systems usually come in two forms:

  1. Human-driven: this is a painter with protective equipment, sufficient ventilation and a gun. They could be applying paint, gel coat, e coat, powder coating or any kind of industrial-grade media. They can be skilled or unskilled, reliable or unpredictable, but are among the most adaptable solutions because they’re creative – like a person should be.
  2. Fixed automated systems: these can be reciprocating arms or just any spray implement that automatically goes back and forth over a given surface area (or “work volume”). This solution can lead to a lot of waste and overspray, but it gets the job done and if you cover a large volume of parts, it’s cheaper than hiring a bunch of workers

How do these compare to a robot? The first solution is difficult because humans are much more adaptable than traditional robots and also far less consistent. At the same time, this challenge is paradoxical, because even though humans can quickly adapt to new circumstances and parts, they may also be lacking in the ability to achieve the degree of consistency and quality finish that most manufacturers expect today.

At the same time, a skilled engineer may be able to manufacture a solution for consistency based on the capabilities of a fixed automated system, but they also lack the ability to adapt to unique contours and parts – all of that makes it very difficult for a robot to “meet manufacturers in the middle”, and yet makes manufacturers need the specific and unique capabilities of robots to become easier to deploy.

Why Rework is So Painful in General Industry

If you’re in general industry, that tradeoff between agility and consistency is at one more joint position: the difficulty of avoiding rework.

If you’re working on a highly varied batch of parts (could be kitchen cabinets, could be elevators for an airplane), you still need a quality finish to keep your customer satisfied, and yet at the same time, every single part has to have a consistent thickness and uniform reflectivity (or even highly specific weight) that serves as a limiter for what you can achieve with non-robotic systems. 

Here, the cost of robots is still too high, but with autonomous robots, that can change. 

How an Autonomous Paint Robot can Help

To overcome the barriers of traditional robots, autonomous robots help improve the situation by taking in real information on your factory floor and using it to define the position and orientation of parts.

Truly autonomous robots can also generate motions that enable you to avoid the challenge of programming altogether. So, by allowing autonomous robots to automatically perform the most labor-intensive portions of a robotic cell, while also adapting to the part variation that is seen in 80+% of industrial manufacturing, and finally freeing the labor force of the many challenges, risks and vagaries that come with working in a paint booth – that’s what we call an absolute win!

With AutonomyOS™ and AutonomyStudio™, it’s never been easier to deploy an autonomous robotic system. Using 3D Perception with AI-based Task Planning and Motion Planning, manufacturing engineers and integrators can configure autonomous robotic systems for value-added processes that allow manufacturers to achieve more consistency and flexibility in production than ever before.