Month: June 2020

High Mix Manufacturing – Simplified with Task Canvas Blocks

With a revolution in robot programming coming in the form of easy to use collaborative and industrial robots, more machine shops are taking on automation projects. Although some of the initial setup and programming becomes much easier, the problems with integrating configuring and programming these peripheral devices still persist. 

READY simplifies the processes of integrating the robot with those peripheral devices. READY makes the process of programming the entire task easy enough that anyone on the factory floor can do it. Using Forge/OS, a cross platform automation operating system, it enables anyone to configure and control all aspects of the automation cell no matter the brand of robot or peripheral.

High Mix using Forge/OS

Automaton can be difficult to justify In a high mix  manufacturing environment.  When a machine runs a wide variety of parts, the automation needs to be just as versatile. Many machinists are accustomed to adjusting features of the job to get the best result. Commonly machinists often modify parameters in the CAM software and changing tooling on the machine depending on the job. Robots traditionally don’t work the same way. During changeover it can be complicated and  difficult to modify a program or change a peripheral. This can lead to the potential loss of time due to the lack of knowledge and skill in robot programming. 

Forge/OS vastly simplifies the changeover process in a high mix environment. Automation becomes much more accessible utilizing Task Canvas, the flowchart programming application. In Task Canvas each action is controlled by a block that has customizable control built in. We’re going to look at a few blocks within Task Canvas that will simplify changeover. 

Camera Block

The Camera Block can be a great  solution for a high mix manufacturing environment. Vision systems have a wide variety of uses, most often allowing the robot to locate parts within the workspace. The camera is programmed in the vision system’s native software. This is used to  locate the part specified in the software and give the robot a point in space to grasp the part.

READY makes these vision systems much more useful with the Camera Block. In Task Canvas these blocks are used  to send and receive signals from the vision systems controller after the camera takes the image. When part changeover happens the vision system will need to be updated for the new part, but the blocks and the logic in Task Canvas stay the same. This vastly reduces the time it takes to change to a new part.   

Grid Block

The grid block lets the robot to move the end effector (end of the robot)  from one position to another following a customization grid pattern. Since the camera is mounted to the end of the arm, the vision system can be programmed to take an image every time it gets to another point in the grid. With only creating 3 waypoints and changing a few parameters, the robot can continuously scan for parts on the work surface, and even alert the operator if the parts need to be refilled. 

Gripper Block

Once you can locate the parts using the grid move and camera blocks its time to pick the part up. In this high mix environment your parts will change so your gripper will need to be just as flexible. The gripper block will allow you to control a gripper no matter the actuation type. If you have a suction gripper or an electric gripper they both are programmed the same way. This vastly opens up the possibilities in your manufacturing space. If your parts change you can easily modify the program to accommodate the parts. If the parts are different enough, the gripper can be changed and the program can be updated in minutes. 

Check out our video that puts these principles into action. 

Forge/OS can help boost your production by simplifying the difficult parts of automation. Using the blocks built into Task Canvas anyone in the shop can learn and master automation

Learn More about Forge/OS here

How No Code Programming Democratizes Automation

From website creation to mobile app production, No Code programming solutions have significantly reduced the barriers to programming, and democratized the production of websites, html emails, mobile apps, and more. No Code tools have enabled anyone to build previously complex elements, by replacing the skill needed to write code with easy-to-use drag and drop user interfaces. No Code programming has empowered businesses to build and manage their own high quality websites, design/build/test landing pages, build and deploy email campaigns, and even build apps. No Code programming is poised to revolutionize manufacturing.

What does No Code programming have to do with manufacturing?

Until recently, nothing. Programming robots and automation required a very specific skillset, that demanded months if not years of training and experience. This programming barrier has limited robotic adoption, but it makes manufacturing an ideal candidate for a No Code revolution. How would robotic adoption be impacted if programming wasn’t limited to expensive and scarce robot programmers or integrators? What if anyone on the factory floor could program, deploy and manage robots? What if instead of an urgent call to an integrator, troubleshooting automated workcells could be performed by multiple machinists currently on the factory floor? What if even third shift workers were comfortable managing changeover, or troubleshooting? This is the future of manufacturing that we will see with No Code programming!

How will manufacturers benefit from No Code programming?

There are many ways in which No Code programming will positively impact manufacturing. We’ll outline them in this article. For a more complete review of No Code programming, and its impact on manufacturing, download our free whitepaper: The No Code Revolution.

Download No Code Whitepaper

The benefits of No Code programming in manufacturing.

  1. By developing the application yourself, you know exactly how it operates.

There is no part of your automation application that your team won’t understand. This also enables you to leverage institutional knowledge of the task you are automating, to build a successful automation solution more quickly, with less trial and error.

  1. You are self sufficient.

Need to update the program? Your team can do it! They can also rapidly troubleshoot any issue that might arise.

  1. Your team gets to continuously improve and upgrade their skillset.

With each task they implement, your team grows more competent and more confident in automation. We often hear from customers that while initially apprehensive about automation, their team actually enjoys programming automation in a No Code environment. In addition to increased productivity, this can also lead to higher job satisfaction.

  1. Community

A universal operating system with a No Code programming environment has the potential to unify a fragmented industry. And, when anyone can program any robot or automation task, automation in becomes much more accessible.

Expert knowledge transfer: the old way vs No Code

One of the most valuable aspects of a No Code environment is how it can empower an expert to transfer their knowledge of a task to an automation program without a middleman. Traditional knowledge transfer often doesn’t go smoothly, because those with the most experience and knowledge regarding a particular task (the machinists and operators) are generally not highly involved in automating the task. No Code programming breaks an over-reliance on outside integrators to observe, understand and program a task. Instead, factory workers with deep knowledge of the task are directly involved in programming automation. This can greatly improve the likelihood of success with an automation project out-of-the-gate, and it empowers those most familiar with a task to manage the automation ongoingly.

No Code robotic programming is a revolutionary change to how robotic automation can be implemented. Not only can programs be written exponentially faster than existing robot programming languages, but they can be owned and maintained by the workers managing the workcell. The benefits of No Code programming are tremendous, and we believe that No Code programming is critical to democratizing automation and unlocking the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  

To learn more about No Code programming and the impact it will have on manufacturing, download our free whitepaper.

Download No Code Whitepaper

Robot Selector – A Resource for All Manufacturers

Recently, we released Robot Selector to the world. Featuring more than 700 robots from 70 robot brands, it is the first searchable library of every 6 degree of freedom (6 DOF) robot. In addition to robots from major OEMs like FANUC, Kuka, and ABB, it includes smaller brands with limited market presence, but unique and potentially “right” robots for various applications. Robot Selector enables anyone to search all 6 DOF robots by reach, payload, brand, and collaborative vs industrial. The objective is to make it significantly easier for manufacturers to find the right robot for a given automation project.

Why does Robot Selector matter?

In the top-heavy but highly fractured robotic market, it has never been easy to objectively find the correct robot for a particular task. It is hard to know which robot OEMs to search, and there is no single, searchable collection of all robots. This is a barrier to automation. Automating can be complex and intimidating, and any barrier that can be removed makes automation more accessible – especially to those automating for their first time. Having an easily searchable robot library gives manufacturers transparency into all available robotic options, and makes it easier to find the right robot.

Why did READY build it?

READY is brand agnostic. Whether with FANUC, or Universal Robots, or any brand in between, we want to unlock automation for all manufacturers. One barrier that must be addressed is the programming barrier. It increases automation costs, and limits manufacturers to robot brands that they (or their integrators) are familiar with. This can mean that a more affordable or appropriate robot isn’t considered, because it can’t be easily programmed. The promise of Forge/OS, READY’s universal operating system for industrial automation, is that anyone can program any robot or peripheral via a single, user-friendly interface. In addition to reducing programming time, this will enable manufacturers to choose the right robot for the job – regardless of brand. 

While every robot brand isn’t currently supported by Forge/OS, eventually they will be. This is why READY was in a unique position to build Robot Selector. We want to make it as easy as possible for manufacturers to deploy the correct robot for any application. We hope the manufacturing community will find Robot Selector to be a valuable resource in their effort to deploy the best robotic solution.

Should you automate? Calculating ROI on your next Automation Project

Does it make financial sense to automate a particular task? Should you automate task A or task B? It’s important to know the answer to these questions before launching an automation project. Properly calculating projected ROI is one key to making a good decision on your next project. So, how do you calculate projected ROI?

In basic terms, ROI stands for Return On Investment. ROI models vary from company to company, but it’s common for manufacturers to target an ROI of 18-24 months on their automation investments. Sometimes, ROI targets can be as short as 12 months. Properly calculating projected ROI is an important step for any project engineer or plant manager, as it ensures that 1) the selected task will pay for itself in an acceptable time frame 2) that the project with the biggest ROI is selected over other possible projects. 

Common inputs to computing ROI in manufacturing  uses many of the following inputs

  • Machine loading time
  • Machine cycle time
  • Machine unloading time
  • Parts produced per week
  • Part shape
  • Part width: min and max
  • Part length: min and max
  • Part weight: min and max
  • Parts produced per week
  • Number of parts held in hopper
  • Time to load parts hopper
  • Time before refill
  • Time spent refilling
  • Fully loaded hourly rate of machine operator

Why must you know the part shape, part dimension to calculate ROI? The parts dimensions inform the robotic arm required, which is a major cost factor in any automation project. Other variables are closely tied to machine operator requirements for supporting the automated task. With these inputs, it is possible to choose an appropriate automation solution (and the associated cost), and calculate how long the automation investment will take to achieve ROI. READY has built an ROI calculator that automatically performs the complex ROI calculations. Simply input the data associated with your task to receive an instant ROI projection informing how quickly your project should achieve ROI.

CalculatorROI CALCULATOR

ROI Calculator

Answer a few questions about your production situation, and get an instant ROI projection.

To get a better understanding of the factors that influence the ROI of a project, so you can better plan, and maximize success on future projects, download our ROI-focused whitepaper with the deceptive title: Automation is Too Expensive. Software is the Solution.

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