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Collaborative Robots, Safety Advances Shown at ABB Tech Days

Patrick Waurzyniak   






By Patrick Waurzyniak
Senior Editor

ABB Robotics last week celebrated 40 years in the robotics industry with its Tech Days open house for customers and suppliers at the company’s North American headquarters in Auburn Hills, MI. Some of the robotic automaton innovations shown at the March 13-14 event included the first demonstration in North America of ABB’s collaborative Dual Arm Concept Robot (DACR), as well as technical sessions on new safety standards, robotic cutting and welding techniques, material handling, painting, press automation, and developments in robotic software.

In a discussion of robot safety, Patrick Davison, director, Standards Development, Robotic Industries Association (RIA: Ann Arbor, MI), said the industry now essentially has a globally unified standard with the adoption of the ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012 standard. The updated standard is the first ANSI update since 1999, Davison noted. The standard specifies safety guidelines that give manufacturers a common, level playing field, provides risk assessments, and will help lower costs by standardizing design and manufacturing.

ABB Robotics hosted customers and supplier companies at its annual Tech Days, featuring more than 80 product demonstrations and technical sessions on robotic technology developments.

More details on safety are being developed with a Technical Specification 15066 that is due to be released in early 2015. The TS 15066 specs will give the industry more details on the use of safe, collaborative robots. “This does not mean that a robot doesn’t need safeguards,” Davison said. “Humans and robots are doing tasks together. There have been some misnomers on the actual definition.”  

Collaborative robots are still in their infancy, Davison said. “It seems the technology is always advanced faster than the standards,” he noted.
ABB’s Wenlong Li sets up a demonstration of the company’s Dual Arm Concept Robot (DACR), a small, two-armed collaborative robot designed to work in close proximity with humans on an electronics assembly line.
The demonstration of ABB’s DACR collaborative robot, which has been under development for a few years, previewed what the company called a forthcoming product that’s designed to close the gap between manual assembly and a fully automatic assembly process. The DACR concept is a two-armed robot equipped with a flexible gripper, camera-based part location and ABB’s IRC5 controller integrated into the torso. ABB demonstrated it simulating the assembly of a small electronics part. The robot is designed to be easily carried around a factory and can be mounted into work cells with minimal installation requirements.

In an overview of ABB’s RobotStudio 5 software, Jerry Fleming, senior training instructor, customer service, ABB Inc., said users of ABB’s 3D robot control software can program robots either online or offline. RobotStudio includes a full version of the control, offering users the true kinematics of the controller inside, Fleming said, enabling the simulation of not only the robot, but also motors, positioners, PLCs or any other system components.

RobotStudio features ABB’s Virtual Technology, invented nearly 20 years ago, and offers a wide range of options for specific tasks including MultiMove, which gives users the capability to run up to four robots on one controller, and AutoPath, for programming deburring or sealing applications that require precisely following an edge. Along with several add-on PowerPac modules for robotic machine tending, welding and cutting applications, ABB last year added to its FlexPendant’s functionality with a new Production Screen human-machine interface (HMI) that enables users to create custom screens with ScreenMaker, an object-oriented editor similar to Visual Basic.

Contact Senior Editor Patrick Waurzyniak:  

Published Date : 3/17/2014

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