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Samuel_BouchardSamuel_Bouchard Posts: 150 Handy
Hi Pros, I'm thinking a lot these days on how we can make the deployment of robots more efficient and I'd like your input on this question:

What are the biggest sources of wasted time and money when we integrate robotic cells?

Let me know what you think! I'm sure @Enric @Ryan_Weaver @Grady_Turner @BeachChE @abeachy_HG24 @Kaleb_Rodes @mattewd92 you'd have great insights!



  • matthewd92matthewd92 Founding Pro, Tactile Sensor Beta Testers Posts: 1,261 Handy
    We have a couple of areas where I think time and money are wasted but today are necessary evils. 

    Part presentation - the ability to handle parts presented in bins the way humans would pick them would reduce lots of system design time as well as cost. Part presentation systems can run from a few hundred dollars for something basic to tens of thousands for custom feeders and can add months to the project implementation time waiting for them to be designed and manufactured. 

    Sensors/wiring - today most sensors are wired which means we have to run all the wires to give the cell it's nervous system. The cell I'm deploying this week has roughly 20 sensors in it in various parts so we can give the robots all the data they need to know how to run the cell efficiently. 

    Gripper Finger Design - because robots today lack tactile feel we have to design a lot of custom fingers for grippers whether we are using a pneumatic or robotic gripper. It's the rare case that we feel confident deploying with off the shelf finger tips as we need to ensure the part is picked correctly and accurately so use mating features to make sure we know where the part is relative to the gripper. 
  • Etienne_SamsonEtienne_Samson Beta Tester Beetle, Wrist Camera URCap 1.3.0, Vacuum Beta tester Posts: 419 Handy
    Here are a couple ideas about time (and money) waste that are far from necessary in my opinion.

    Some example of improper thinking during the design or early integration phase:

    1) Spending time to adapt to inadequate equipment. I have often seen integration project where you need to adapt to an old, obsolete part of machinery that is not really meant to fit with your new equipment, you want to save money by re-using that old equipment but it is so complex to adapt to it that you spend 2 months "patching" the integration with software and jigs. That's a good waste of time and money were in a lot of case it would be a saver to just discard this and start with new machinery.

    2) Same kind of situation where I've seen that the new equipment was not chosen properly for the application and then you fight to make it work for weeks. This happens especially when the management / buyers have not validated the choice with the engineer in charge of actually installing the equipment. Instead of accepting that there was a mistake in buying that equipment, people will work really hard on work-around to make it work where they would save by just returning the equipment and going back to the design phase.

    3) Not using the "human experience" behind the process to automate. Most of integration process will automate something already done by a human operator. It is often very good to spend some time watching the operator doing his job, then translate this to an automated process. They often have tricks that are not written in the job description that can save an enormous amount of time!

    Here are some examples of bad integration practices that can cause a lot of waste:

    1) Not having a software versioning system. Getting lost in your program versions (when you reach rev_29 and so on) and loosing time trying to find the latest of your program version that all have the same name...

    2) Not having a schematic view of your process. You need to keep your process close to what bring values, moving your part around without purpose close to the process can cause a lot of waste. Most integration projects can fit on a couple of post-it in-front of your desk. Part presentation, a couple of process related step, then part output. Any step in the program not linked to that is just waste.

    3) Lack of internal communication: As soon as you have more then 1 working on the project, you need everyone on the same page. It's quite good to have a board where you can write down the automation project in a few blocks and have everyone work towards the same goal. Make sure that the mechanical guy working on the part presentation jig knows what the guy programming the robot needs for adequate part presentation etc. Working like software engineers with scrum meetings is probably the best thing to do.
    Etienne Samson
    Technical Support Director
    +1 418-380-2788 ext. 207
    [email protected]
  • Samuel_BouchardSamuel_Bouchard Posts: 150 Handy
  • BeachChEBeachChE Founding Pro Posts: 19 Handy
    The biggest area that is wasted for us is part presentation. Trying to pick up a part and place it accurately is a big problem. When you are trying to place a part onto a fixture within .010 or so, a couple of degrees off on the pick up makes a big difference. 

    The other area is trying to be too complex with the system or trying to do too many operations for the time allowed. When you start realizing the time it takes to make movements it can add up quickly. Two of my projects had this issue and I needed to spend time and money finding ways to reduce the time it took to do the operations.
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