Term Paper: Industrial Robots

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[. . .] Many robots are used for automotive or electrical machinery production.

The first major robot user was the automotive industry, for painting, welding, and loading, but this industry now absorbs about 20% of robot production. Honda's #3

Suzuki line is 2600 feet long, compared to Detroit's average of 7600 feet. Nissan is introducing the Intelligent Body Assembly System or IBAS, which combines 51 computer controlled sensors, jigs and welding robots in a single unit. It produces 8 different models on the main line without any retooling and produces a partially assembled car every 45 seconds. Honda can produce 4 models on one line, something the U.S. still cannot do (D. K. Kahaner, Robots And Use In Japan Industry).

Many manufacturing processes use machine tools to work on different parts. These machines require that a raw part be loaded in, the machine cycle started and the finished part removed. In many cases, the raw part must be positioned very accurately in order for the part to be properly machined. Many such machines are involved in metal cutting processes that take a long time to complete. Typically, the loading and the unloading phases are much shorter that the machining phase. Since a robot can be given a longer reach than a human worker has, a single robot may be able to service two or more metal cutting machines. A machine cutting task for a robot might consist of picking up a raw part from a pallet or conveyor belt and placing the part in the machine tool. The gripper for the robot would have to be designed to pick up the raw part. Next the robot could then get another raw part and place it in another machine tool. If the robot is also responsible for unloading the finished part from the machine tool, it may have to use a different gripper due to the change in dimensions of the machined part over the raw part. Depending on the length of the machine cycle, the robot may switch to the second gripper between the loading and unloading steps. Robots can do not all machine loading as yet, because of the precision placement needed for some parts. As robot sensors improve, however, robots will be able to perform more of the machine loading jobs.

Seeing the great efficiency provided by robots, more industries are employing these machines to perform a number of tasks in a cost-effective way.

About half of Japanese manufacturing companies have invested this year in facilities and equipment to improve efficiency, specifically robotization and automated manufacturing systems. This was one of the leading methods cited for coping with labor shortages, and the method claimed to be most effective. Interestingly, investments that cut labor costs were essentially flat from 1984-1987, but then rose about 20% in each of 1988 and 1989. R&D investments also increased about 20% in each of these two years (D. K. Kahaner, Robots And Use In Japan Industry).

Another type of industrial robot that is gaining a lot of momentum is the vision-guided robot. According to John Teresko, "vision-guided robots represent more than a new interesting application area for vision software suppliers. We think that the acceptance of vision-guided robots will enable a significant shift in manufacturing process design. With this added capability, manufacturing lines can be designed with a whole new mentality" (Robots Revolution).

Hence, it can safely be said that industrial robots are best for jobs that are dirty, dull, dangerous and arduous. Robots are best at doing work that humans can not do. The major advantage of using industrail robots is that they can be used for tasks that need to be done repeatedly, but not often enough to justify the use of automated equipment. With the passage of time, robots will prove to be a significant component in the technology exports of various countries such as, Japan, United States, Korea and China.


Industrial Robots Learn All The New Moves. Automation Dartford, England. 1 Oct. 2001.

Kahaner, D.K. Robots And Use In Japan Industry. 28 Feb. 1991. Available on the address http://www.atip.org/public/atip.reports.91/robots.html. Accessed on 19 Mar. 2004.

Mintchell, Gary. Industrial Robots Fast, Nimble At 30. Control Engineering. 1 Nov. 2002.

Teresko, John. Robots… [END OF PREVIEW]

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