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  • Writer's pictureLars Christensen

#2 Fanuc Robotics Your Partner on the shop floor

Did you read the 1st post of the robotic theme week? if not here it is #1 When you should make room for robots

When introducing robotics into your shop your goal is to take full advantage of automation and the repeatability these things can provide. Lets be honest, we want this thing to run “lights out” every day, 7 days a week if possible. To do the job right the most important thing is of course the robot itself.

Fanuc Robotics is one of the heavyweights that should be among the top on your list of when consider a brand. With over 200,000 installed robots worldwide you know that this is a well established company. The world of robotics is not a field where you foul around, and a lot of the big companies have already done the ground work for you by showing you what brand they use.

So again the question where do you start? If you are a small shop buying your equipment up to this point, it might just been a path of necessity from a costumer demand, but making the jump to use robotics is about changing a mindset, about taking your shop to the next level. With 33 different robot categories and with some of them containing up to 9 different types you mouth quickly gets dry trying to figure out what you need and how to single out possible candidates for your specific job.

When I asked Cathy Powell from Fanuc Robotics this questions her answer made me realize that as a costumer there is no reason to panic, because there is people out there that can explain and make you understand what fit your situation best.

* As the field of robotics rapidly advances, some manufacturers may not be aware of the value provided by robotics. The following list explains several reasons for companies to consider robots for their manufacturing operations:

1.Loosely located parts can be handled: An increasing number of systems are using 2D vision as an alternative to expensive fixtures. Some robot controllers even have vision systems as a standard option without the need for an external PC.

2.Large parts can be handled: The maximum payload that a robot can handle continues to rise with some robots able to handle over 1300 kg!

3.Large work envelopes are no problem: For many years robots have been placed on linear slides to increase the working range. Now robots can be placed on overhead rails that only require columns every 10 meters. This allows the plant work area to remain largely open while still allowing rail travel of up to 70 meters.

4.ROI measures need to be updated: Many plants still use a “double standard” for capital equipment ROI. Certain capital, like machine tools, use “useful life” calculations while automation and robots still use short paybacks, like one year. This results in the under-utilization of a very reliable piece of equipment with a life of 7 to 10 years, and the flexibility to be re-applied.

5.Bin picking is now possible: The use of 3D vision allows robots to pick parts directly from a bin, particularly parts that have some rough orientation, such as being stacked.

8.Higher cycle times are possible: Each new robot and controller design results in products that have higher speeds. When making expansion plans, check on the cycle times possible with the newest generation of robots.

9.Robots can compete with fixed automation: Robots have the payload and speed to compete with fixed automation and offer two key advantages. The first is increased reliability, which results in higher plant yields. The second is flexibility to handle future products, which protects your investment.

10.Benefits exceed labor savings: While first time robot users typically justify an application on labor savings, there are the added savings of increased productivity and improved quality.

11.Assembly tasks can be performed: The use of six degrees of freedom force sensors means that robots can perform assembly tasks with larger 3D parts that were not previously possible.

Don’t you feel better now? yeah I know……… is not confusion circulation in you brain right now, but ideas about how you can use this technology.

Now if you made it this far in this article I know that back in your head the $ is spinning, and of course you get what you pay for. Robotic Automation cost money but remember this is a serious industry, companies like Fanuc Robotics will work close with you to streamline and customize to your specific needs. Even the government is willing to do there part Stimulus save on robots in 2009

As a shop floor supervisor one of my big personal concerns are service. You are picturing this thing running like a race car, doing what ever magic it can do, but you also know that at a point the darn thing need maintenance or even a wrench to it, and my machining centers always breaks Friday at 5pm, you know what I talk about! Again, choosing a well established company like Fanuc gives you a advantage, they got people and when I directed my concern torch Cathy Powell from Fanuc Robotics, she once more made my pulse drop under 120.

FANUC Robotics Support Staff:

* The FANUC Robotics Technical Support Group is available 24/7/365. Our average years of true FANUC Robotics experience is 18.8 years amongst the 12 staffed specialists. So, all customers are serviced by a highly qualified specialist with many years of advanced technical knowledge and experience with every phone call. Along with the years of experience, management carefully reviews the different skill sets of each specialist and compares that to the types of technical calls coming in. We coordinate staffing and training based on the types of technical calls we receive. We have automated call routing to the most skilled Technical Support Specialist based on the customer’s robot type and application use. All specialists are trained and qualified to answer all basic questions across all robot platforms. However, we have dedicated “All Stars” for each robot product type & product application. The “All Stars” are the go-to specialists amongst the group for advanced questions.

Service Locations:

* The FANUC Robotics Service Group is also available 24/7/365. We dispatch the nearest engineer based on product knowledge and troubleshooting skills. We have19 FRA Servicing Engineers with an average of 10+ years experience. We also have 50+ Service Installation Engineers located across the U.S. All Service Engineers can login remotely to assist Technical Support questions when not dispatched. Service utilizes a web-based scheduling system called Workforce Manager to track service calls, engineer progress and, most importantly, availability for the next customer service request. On a continuous basis, management tracks service requests by geographic location to ensure all areas of the U.S. are serviced in a timely and economical manner. There are 13 remote service engineers spread across the U.S. and they are strategically located in the densest areas of our customer base and previous service requests. We also have 16 Servicing Integrator partners with at least 3 qualified service engineers that are certified by FANUC to perform robot service work.

So its installed, now what? It has been bolted to the floor or hanging from the ceiling, now we need some movement. Small shops can have a very hard time justifying sending one of there key team members away on a expensive training trip across country, but luckily Fanuc Robotic is a company with the desire to be part of the modern world and they offer online training. Now the operator can do the training when it best suits the company, and when questioning Cathy Powell about there training program and the difficulty creating something like that, you kinda get the idea the efforts Fanuc Robotics have made. Fanuc Robotics America has invested a vast amount of hours into developing our eLearn offerings to provide the best possible web based learning experience. Customer feedback about their experience taking our eLearn training indicates that these courses to be a valuable learning tool. We have trained over 1,650 students since beginning the program. Each course contains interactive features developed with the use of our sophisticated 3D offline robot simulation software. This allows us to provide highly technical training to customers that are unable to attend a live class. Courses are self paced and modular in design to allow our customers to be trained at their own convenience. Our customers have found this training to be a great learning tool

My conclusion is that Fanuc Robotic seems like everything you could wish for in regards to shopping for Robots, a company with good solid customer service and know how that would be beneficial to any new robot buyer. I would like to thank Cathy Powell of Fanuc Robotics for her assistance and patience answering my questions.

Tomorrow we are going to cut that Solidworks screen open and drag RobotWorks out in the light. Hope you are in for the ride.

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