READY Robotics CEO and co-founder, Benjamin Gibbs, talks with David Perkton about the mission of the company in Control Design article “The Advent of Easier Automation”. With a mission to improve the world’s quality of life and productivity through automation, READY has created a user-friendly, cross-platform software interface that enables factories and manufacturers to easily program robotics and automation.
Factories will now be capable of leveraging automation like never before. By reducing time spent on the planning and implementation phase of automation, these businesses can focus on increasing their job velocity. Ben goes on to talk about where he sees manufacturing and automation heading.
“Much in the same way when today you just plug your mouse into a computer and the operating system automatically integrates all the drives and in a couple seconds you are up and running using the mouse. We need to reach the same point in robotics, and then we can really unlock this space and help to create a future of ubiquitous robotics.”
When programming automation tasks we’re often confronted with a situation where the robot arm needs to be in a very specific shape or pose. For example, when moving in or out of a tight space in a machine tool. This can be tricky without the ability to direct each joint to a specific angle. It might be necessary to direct each joint to move independently or all at once. Within Task Canvas, programming these highly specific movements is easily accomplished.
This is where Joint Jumps come along. The Joint Jump Block directs the arm to move into a specific pose based on joint angle instead of a waypoint. This will help you avoid singularities, get the arm into a specific pose, or get into and out of tight spaces in a repeatable motion.
With Task Canvas, programming Joint Jumps on any robot arm is easy. Task Canvas enables you to program Joint Jump blocks on all supported robot arms running Forge/OS. Once in Task Canvas, access Joint Jump by clicking “Add Block” > “Robot Moves” > “Joint Jump”. Once you’ve opened a joint jump generator, change the “Jump To” field inside the generator then accept the changes. You can also control how fast the arm will move with the speed field, and test your joint jump with the Execute button and Initial Position Button.
Looking to take your programming to the next level, reduce cycle time, improve repeatability, etc? Visit our YouTube channel for more video tutorials on Forge/OS, Task Canvas, and automation in general.
Historically, robot programming has been the sole domain of manufacturing engineers, highly trained workers, and integrators with specialized skills. But, with only 1 robotics engineer for every 11 factories, there simply are not enough trained workers to design, install and maintain robotic automation. This shortage of workers capable of programming robots and automation makes them expensive, drives up the overall cost of automation, and limits the adoption of robotic automation. Since the training requirements to learn how to program a robot are very high, it’s unlikely that as an industry we’ll be able to train enough workers to implement the level of automation necessary to solve the overall labor gap. A radical change in how robots are programmed is needed.
Let’s explore the reasons why programming robots is hard, and why READY is so focused on making industrial robots easy for anyone to program.
Every robot has its own programming language
Automation Engineers develop tasks in the robot brands native programming language. Each robot arm manufacturer’s programming language is unique. For example, FANUC has Karel, Universal Robots has URScript, Yaskawa Motoman has INFORM, ABB has RAPID, and Kuka uses KRL. Automation Engineers need to learn a new programming language every time they want to program, modify, or troubleshoot a different brand of arm.
Programming Interfaces are antiquated
Teach Pendants are necessary for controlling the robot arm, safety of the cell, and other peripheral devices. The programming environment on the teach pendants lacks many of the conveniences of modern technology. Conveniences such as multi-touch screens, graphical cues, drag and drop, and even cut and paste are commonly missing features. Because the interface is so different, the person responsible for programming must adapt to a suboptimal interface. This lack of familiarity with the programming environment is a significant barrier for developers to learn automation.
Robot training courses require prerequisites
Classes from robot manufacturers, trade school and private training providers require prerequisites to take a more useful robot programming class. These prerequisite classes often take weeks to complete. This means a lot of time off work to complete hours of prerequisite training. All this time invested will only teach you how to develop simple application programs.
Training is expensive and time consuming
According to the manufacturer’s class we looked at, it takes 72 hours of training to develop a simple application in their programming language. This is not even a fraction of the knowledge you need to develop an automation system. It can cost thousands of dollars to attend these training sessions. To handle advanced integrations like cameras, barcode readers or force sensors, you could have thousands in additional classroom costs. Multiply those costs by a factor of 2-5 if you want to have redundant programming resources on your factory floor!
There’s so much more than the robot arm.
Industrial robot arms do not work in isolation. They must have their own movements which must be coordinated with the items attached to the arm such as the end of arm tooling, sensors, and safety equipment. But there are other components in the workcell that need to work in tandem with the arm. There needs to be communication between the other peripherals such as force sensors and vision systems, machine tools, parts presentation, and other equipment in the cell. This adds to the level of complexity for automating any task.
For a deeper dive into the difficulties of programming robots, download our free white paper.
READY Robotics CTO and Co-Founder, and Forbes Technology Council Member, Kel Guerin outlines 5 steps for getting started with robotic automation.
From identifying the low-hanging fruit to starting small and scaling up, Kel illuminates key principles of successful automation projects. Learn why complex tasks aren’t often the best to automate, why they are almost never the best place to dive into automation, and why now is the best time to kickoff your first automation project. Read the article on Forbes, where it was originally published: