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.