Consider a workforce with no breaks, no sleep breaks, and no mistakes; precisely that is what robots offer. Industrial robots have fundamentally altered the world of industrial manufacturing, benefiting the sector and its workers in several ways.
Robots may not require rest periods or sleep. However, they need maintenance to give peak output and prevent costly repairs or, in the worst case, complete system failures. Thus, understanding industrial robot preventative maintenance and applying it correctly is crucial if your organization uses industrial robots.
Industrial robots are equipped to carry out tasks similar to those performed by humans, including running, packaging, painting, welding, and carrying goods. They require a large variety of specialized components to execute these duties since they are built to deliver answers to a wide variety of demands and perform a long list of functions.
What are some of the most frequent issues that each type of industrial robot that is widely used encounters? What should technicians and operators check for while carrying out routine maintenance on industrial robots?
5 Components Of An Industrial Robot
The following are some of the important components of an industrial robot:
These joints or mechanical connections can move in various directions to carry out the robot's tasks. Actuators, such as electric motors, drives, hydraulic rotary actuators, and pneumatic or hydraulic cylinders, are used to move these mechanical links. The actuators might be directly connected to the automatic links or joints, or they can be driven indirectly via gears, chains, or screws. When pneumatic or hydraulic drives are used, valves on the manipulator are frequently used to control the flow of air or oil to the actuators.
This device is used to complete the tasks of a robotic arm attached to it. Imagine it as a human hand's palm and fingers. The element that moves or directs the outcome of a process is called an end effector. It is utilized for specialist activities, including welding, gauging, marking, drilling, cutting, cleaning, cleaning, and other similar ones.
These are a category of technologies used to watch a process or operation occur and confirm that it did. To return to the human body analogy, these organs provide the brain with information (controller). A feedback device could be incorporated into a robot to sense the locations of the various linkages and joints and communicate this data to the controller. Simple limit switches operated by the robot's arm may be used, as well as position-measuring tools like encoders, potentiometers, resolvers, or tachometers. The feedback data might be either digital or analog, depending on the equipment used.
The robot controller is a computer linked to the robot that serves as its "brain." It is made up of both hardware and software. Controllers include advanced decision-making and data storing capabilities in addition to all the characteristics of computers. They either perform complex arithmetic operations to control path, speed, and position or provide two-way communications between the controller and ancillary devices. They start and stop the motion of the manipulator through interfaces with the manipulator's control valves and feedback devices.
As in humans, muscles aid in the arm, fingers, and palm movement. Motors give the robot the ability to move. The three most common types of engines used in robot motion are pneumatic, electric, and hydraulic. These five elements, installed, programmed, and maintained by robotics professionals, form the basis of understanding for dealing with robots used in robotic manufacturing systems.
How Are Industrial Robots Repaired?
Robots can malfunction just like any other machine, as was previously stated. It will be far better to repair it than get a new one.
For industrial robots malfunction you have to be aware of are the following:
- Analyze your robot's data response to see if it's throwing problems before deciding whether to repair it. If so, you must correct that.
- Industrial robots, as previously mentioned, are assembled from several parts.
- Step by step, clean and fix each component of the robot until you have finished the whole thing.
- To prevent needless harm to your robot, always follow the instructions in the user handbook. The purpose of the ebook is to direct you in situations like this. Therefore, read the guide before you disassemble your robot.
- Sanitize your robot: Your industrial robot's productivity may occasionally be slowed down by its greasy parts.
- Take apart your industrial robot sometimes and clean out all of its components. It aids in reducing wasteful repair expenses.
How to deal with the robotic malfunction
Machines tend to malfunction, which can lead to robotic arm problems. The most important part is to ensure that you adhere precisely to the robot arm repair guides. A user handbook is included with every robot. Knowing the intervals between robot maintenance and what to do during a breakdown is helpful. They provide a thorough review of what to do in all potential situations.
This is the primary justification for purchasing an industrial robot from a well-respected company. Doing so ensures that the robot you receive will meet all of your production needs. This is important because you don't want to spend more money maintaining an expensive asset. After all, it keeps breaking down.
4 incredible ways to Implement a Maintenance Plan for Your Industrial Robots
Follow the procedures below to create and implement a preventative maintenance program for your industrial robots.
Establish a schedule for maintenance
Every successful maintenance program begins with a detailed schedule. The timeline in the above chart serves as a general reference, but the precise duration of your plan should be chosen depending on the manufacturer's recommendations for your unique equipment.
Create a thorough plan with daily, monthly, and yearly milestones using the advice from the above guide and the instructions from the manufacturer's manual.
Carry out the Plan
Once the timetable is finished, it's time to implement it throughout your organization. The steps below must be included in this:
After it has been established, share the timetable with all relevant parties. This can entail publishing the timeframe in a business calendar or bulletin board for easy viewing. To ensure no conflicts with the manufacturing process, client orders, or other corporate matters, be careful to examine the schedule each month with the staff; if disputes arise, reschedule the maintenance day within a reasonable timeframe.
Make sure to discuss maintenance issues with operators during annual training. This explains the need for preventative maintenance for operational safety and the maintenance schedule.
Review the schedule each year and make one before the new year. Make sure that large maintenance tasks are planned for days when they won't significantly disrupt production.
Remember that no program is flawless. Thus, any issues, flaws, or improvements raised by staff members should be seriously considered. Any modifications to the plan should be announced through the channels above.
Continually Reevaluate the Plan
Companies change with time, and your maintenance strategy must do the same. Your preventative maintenance plan should be frequently evaluated, although it isn't necessarily required to do so annually.
Instead, consider whether your business has recently seen any changes; if so, it could be a good idea to reevaluate your maintenance program by following ways.
- Growth of automation.
- Increased demand for high-quality items due to recent manufacturing delays or quality declines.
- The excessive use of energy.
- Staff or floor organization changes.
Hire specialists to perform repairs
Along with the criteria mentioned above, it is crucial to consider hiring industrial robot maintenance experts. These experts can assist you with routine maintenance duties and help you evaluate your preventative maintenance schedule, and create one customized to your business's unique requirements.
Although it may be convenient to have repair personnel on staff, it can also be expensive, especially for smaller manufacturing enterprises. Instead, consider hiring seasoned experts intimately familiar with your robotics and processes.
There are some standard sorts of maintenance that are applicable in every circumstance, regardless of the type of robot. The recommended maintenance intervals, which can fluctuate from manufacturer to manufacturer, will be the only significant difference.
Checklist for Robot Preventive Maintenance
While each type of robot will have its repair procedure, you'll want a ledger to keep track of various maintenance tasks throughout routine inspections.
The following checklist is required:
- Backup of controller memory examination of brake performance.
- Examine the controller cables and the teaching pendant visually.
- Take a look at the overtravel limitations.
- External bolts should be tightened.
- Regularly check the RAM and APC batteries, and swap them out if necessary.
- Clean cooling fans and HVAC equipment with compressed air. Replacing filters should be done as needed.
- Remove garbage and clean the robot chips.
- Put light curtains and sensors in order.
- Check your robot often.
Factor to Consider While Maintaining a Robot
The following are some of the factors to take into account while maintaining a robot:
The Return on Investment:
The goal of robot investments is not solely to do tasks. The danger of breakdown losses can be reduced by ensuring that the investment return exceeds the typical maintenance expenditure.
The Average Output:
Regular maintenance is a good idea if the production of your industrial robot is higher than that of ordinary human labor. It will assist in increasing outputs quickly and reducing costs.
Local Spare Parts Availability:
Your objective of maintaining your equipment depends on spare parts. Make sure the replacement parts are simpler to obtain. The cost of maintaining robots that require the importing of spare parts is high.
Intake of Workload
Maintaining giant workload-handling robots requires caution and accuracy because their failure will result in a maximum loss.
The Importance of Preventive Maintenance for Industrial Robots
Integrating an industrial robot into the production line decreases unplanned production downtime and the likelihood of component failure or degradation. Recent years have significantly evolved industrial robot maintenance, introducing preventive and predictive maintenance ideas.
Let's define these ideas!
By routinely replacing decaying parts or spotting and fixing issues before they become severe and preventive maintenance aids in preventing equipment failure.
The steps involved in carrying out this process are as follows:
- Perform a routine inspection of the mechanical and electrical systems.
- System tests
- Lubrication of the ball joint and shaft.
- Changing the gearbox's oil.
- Measurements and modifications
- Artworks are being replaced.
- Backup of the equipment degradation record
The system's various pressure, temperature, and humidity levels are shown by the condition monitoring solution (Condition Monitoring). The procedure entails the ratio of current and past trends in assets and processes. It enables operators to identify and treat any potential issues before they arise. As necessary, it provides operators with analytics and cautions.
However, applying this kind of predictive maintenance solution to every asset in a facility would be unprofitable. Understanding these ideas helps facilitate time and cost savings in maintenance. Industrial robots can function properly for many years, if not decades, before needing to be replaced. Following a regular preventative maintenance program, your robot's lifespan is enormously extended.
Preventive maintenance is advised to be scheduled annually by the various top robotics brands; additional recommendations depend on the brands' operating hours. After 10,000 hours, it is deemed convenient to do it. It is crucial to consult your robot's manual to determine when it is best to do it.
The best course of action is to schedule this maintenance because, with it planned, the production stoppage will be modest compared to the amount of time lost in the event of an unexpected production halt.
Industrial Robot Maintenance Strategies You Need to Implement
For the machines to operate as intended for as long as possible, keeping up with industrial robot maintenance is crucial. Knowing which maintenance tactics to employ can help you get the most out of your investment in robotics if you've already implemented them in your company or will do so soon. Here are some options for you to think about.
Decommissioning When Necessary
An industrial robot may eventually require so much maintenance that it is more cost-effective to decommission the unit than to maintain paying for its upkeep at some point. It's not always simple to determine when that is the best course of action. One thing to remember is that a robot's usable life can range from five to twenty years, depending on its task and how well it has been maintained.
However, retiring a robot due to its age is frequently not a sufficient justification. Determine how much you regularly spend on replacing parts to start. In connection with that, have you encountered difficulties locating specific components because they are no longer widely accessible on the market? In such circumstances, you could have to pay more or wait longer for them to arrive.
Determine whether the industrial robot malfunctions more frequently now than in the past. Shorter intervals between repairs suggest that decommissioning the machine might be warranted. Additionally, more expensive and frequent issues can make it unprofitable to continue using it.
Check to see if the robot's performance quality has also declined. Recall that poor maintenance may be the source of such a deteriorating tendency. However, if you know that the machine is receiving the necessary care but the quality is still subpar, it could be time to decommission. After decommissioning, a transition phase could be required when replacing an old machine with a new one. To maintain your facility's productivity, this might be necessary.
Hiring Outside Experts to Address On-Site Skill Shortages
Recent years have seen a growth in robots, and this development has several connected advantages. There are certain drawbacks, however. Many businesses have trouble filling positions for industrial robot maintenance with suitable people. Furthermore, there may not be enough qualified applicants for these occupations since they may not have the necessary skill set to maintain the increasingly sophisticated machinery.
These difficulties highlight how tough it is to find on-site employees. Partnering with external repair businesses with staff members knowledgeable in servicing various industrial robot brands might be a more workable approach.
This makes adhering to the maintenance schedule suggested for the brands and categories of robots you own accessible. Various manufacturers offer different maintenance advice. For instance, a well-known manufacturer recommends maintenance every 5,000 to 25,000 hours; however, the time frame varies depending on the particular maintenance activity.
The lack of on-site maintenance personnel may make it difficult or impossible to maintain the industrial robots on the appropriate schedule. Because of this, it is frequently sage to use qualified outside specialists who can immediately handle any wants. You'll probably discover that choice is well worth the cost.
Using Remote Access and Predictive Maintenance Together
A predictive maintenance technique tries to gather the information that could reveal potential robot trouble signs before people become aware of them. Sensors that measure vibration, temperature, and sound are typically used. They alert users of irregularities, allowing them more time to take action.
Predictive maintenance may be even more beneficial when remote machine access is provided. In such cases, a technician could be located off-site and still observe all pertinent facets of a robot's performance.
Examining Time-Saving Techniques
With industrial robot maintenance, you can increase productivity without taking shortcuts that could harm performance. Assess your present procedures first. Investigate which processes typically take the longest and why. Then, consider whether any recent or impending technology could increase output and minimize wastage.
Start Refining How You Maintain Industrial Robots
Your specific approach to robot maintenance will depend on several variables. They might comprise, among other things, the size of your crew and the number of machines you have. Nevertheless, creating a plan that achieves the required outcomes is essential. You can get there with the help of these recommendations.
What kind of upkeep does a robot require?
Preventive maintenance is necessary for every robot to ensure peak performance and reliability on the assembly line. Lack of routine preventative maintenance inspections on robots can result in parts and components breaking down or malfunctioning, which can slow down or stop your production.
What does robotics preventive maintenance entail?
Routinely replacing broken parts or spotting and fixing issues before they become severe and preventive maintenance help prevent equipment failure. The steps involved in this process are as follows: backup of the controller's memory, application software, and teach pendant programs.
How durable are industrial robots?
Because of advancements in IT hardware and software, the typical lifespan of an industrial robot in the industry is typically 6-7 years, depending on the working and maintenance conditions.
How frequently do robots fail?
The average reliability of a robot cell is 88 percent, according to the most recent study on the reliability of robot automation, published in the International Journal of Performability Engineering. In other words, the cell isn't functional 13% of the time.
What leads to the malfunction of robots?
Robots may malfunction due to human mistakes, issues with the control panel, mechanical problems, power outages, or environmental variables. Robot malfunctions can result in human injury or death, and expensive downtime, which is why preventing them is crucial.
Industrial robots are a significant investment and a bold move. Knowing which type you are investing in within your company is crucial, depending on the clients you work with. Speak with professionals in the field who can guide you in choosing the best course of action. Use your user handbook as much as possible; never forget.