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Hey Pros, for those of you who have installed a first robot in your factory and then more, I'd like to know what has changed between the first integration and the next. For instance:
  • Did you standardize part of the hardware or of the programs?
  • Did you attack a more complex, different task or stuck with the same kind of task?
  • Did you change the process before automating?
  • How did you use and share the know-how built from the first install?
  • Did you have more acceptance from your co-workers and management?
  • Any other important point that I've missed?
Thanks for sharing your experience. I speak at a webinar on this topic next week and I want to validate some information that I've gathered in the field.
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  • matthewd92matthewd92 Posts: 751Founding Pro, Tactile Sensor Beta Testers Handy
    @Samuel_Bouchard  Ironically when we deployed our second cobot back in 2014 we actually tackled a much easier task than we did with the first robot.  The first robot was tending two machines and taking parts from the human, loading them in each of the machines in a round robin fashion and giving the finished part back to the human to finish processing.  This was a very fast cycle time as it set the pace for the entire line, and the robot was constantly moving.  The second application was rather mundane, it simply took a part from a person, put it under a heat gun and then passed the finished part to the next assembly line worker.

    Some of the things that we have done since deploying those first two was to standardize a lot of the hardware so that we have interchangeable parts where we can and to also make it easier for the guys that are installing and maintaining the cells by using the same hardware where possible.

    Since starting Hirebotics, we have standardized not only the hardware that we use, but have started down a path of standardizing the software that we have running on the robots no matter what application or customer they are deployed in.  As we have done this, we have seen installations become simpler, we are able to reuse a lot of the mundane code from one installation to the next, we have a standard API library of calls that we make all the time like opening and closing pneumatic grippers or sending data to our cloud backend.  This standardization allows us to move quickly and to keep spare parts on hand so that if we do have an issue in the field we generally are able to respond very quickly to that issue and get replacement parts headed to the customer.

    What we see with our customers and we saw at SFEG is that once the initial cobot is installed there is much less concern over the next robot coming in.  Actually, we have been asked many times, when is the next robot going to be here, when can we get this or that task automated.  The employees will begin to tell you where their pain points are, the jobs that they don't like to do or where they believe the robot can add value.  When that begins to happen it becomes much less challenging to put robots into the plant.  The employees are also more forgiving of working through the bugs and quirks of a new installation.  With the first robot, as soon as there is an issue they are like, I told you that it wouldn't work....see it keeps having trouble.  With the second and beyond they understand that its a process to get one of these up and running, no different than the training and mistakes that they went through to learn the job initially.
  • Samuel_BouchardSamuel_Bouchard Posts: 149 Handy
    Hi @matthewd92, thanks for sharing. You experience is well aligned with other repeat implementations we're seeing:
    • Team acceptance is almost granted after first robot, they even proactively suggest new places to use robots.
    • Implementation goes faster.
    • It's important to standardize to go faster, have easier maintainability and to be able to share the know-how among the team.
    The only thing that we advise people not to do like you is to start simple on the first one!
  • matthewd92matthewd92 Posts: 751Founding Pro, Tactile Sensor Beta Testers Handy
    @Samuel_Bouchard I can agree about starting simple on the first one, we now usually look for a simple first application at new customers. The one thing I will say in favor of how we started is, it definitely showed us that these robots are more than well suited to complex and difficult tasks. We didn't get in the mind set that cobots are only suited to simple tasks
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