How to Choose a Robot for Manufacturing Without Wasting Time

Don’t know how to pick a robot for your manufacturing business?

Overwhelmed by all the many models and brands?

Concerned robots will waste your time?

There are so many industrial robots on the market, with more and more coming out all the time. Every year, dozens of robot manufacturers bring out newer, better models. An entirely new category of industrial robot even arrives on the scene once every few years.

Nobody’s got enough time to search through all those robots!

So… how do you find the right one for your needs?

Like most manufacturers, you’re probably considering a robot because you’re already lacking time. It just doesn’t make sense to then waste time researching them all.

But, there is a way to speed up your robot-selection process.

With the right process and some handy software tools, you can find the best robot for your manufacturing needs with a minimum of fuss.

We Don’t Have Enough Time to Invest in Robotics Now

Tell me if this sounds familiar…

You consider investing in a new technology for your business, thinking “This could improve productivity!”

So, you start to do some research online.

The search brings up pages and pages of results — some of them look promising, some look useless, and some look confusing. You start to read a few and you find that there are so many more factors to consider about this technology that you didn’t even know about.

You suddenly realize that this decision to use this new technology is going to take a lot more of your time than you had originally anticipated.

Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all.

This is a very common situation with robotics. There are so many factors to consider and many of them are entirely unfamiliar.

There Are Too Many Sources of Information

It’s not that robotics is too complicated. In fact, with the right information robotics can be quite simple. You can get up and running reasonably quickly.

The real problem is that there are too many sources of information about robotics. This is a type of “information overload,” which has been shown to cause real productivity damage to companies.

Every robot manufacturer has a vested interest in you reading their website for information on which robot to choose. After all, if you read their information, you’re more likely to buy their robot.

As intelligent buyers, we know that we need to read information from many suppliers to build up a better picture… but that wastes our valuable time.

The solution is to decide your robot brand and model before you start to read any robot manufacturer’s website.

How do you decide which robot to choose if you don’t read the manufacturer’s website?

You need a clear process and a few useful software tools.

What You Need to Buy a Robot Correctly

There are several components you may need to purchase when buying a robot, including:

  1. The robot itself.
  2. The end effector.
  3. The robot controller and power supply (likely from the robot supplier).
  4. Any extra sensors or safety equipment required.
  5. Programming software.

This can seem quite a lot at first. However, consider how many cables and peripherals you need to get a desktop computer to work (I count 9 on my computer). Technologies often require some extras to get them working.

The key to choosing a robot for manufacturing is to follow a clear, impartial selection process. That way, the purchase doesn’t have to be complex.

At RoboDK we’re manufacturer-independent, so this website is a pretty good place to start your search for a robot. We also have some helpful software tools that can help you with your decision, which I’ll introduce below.

6 Steps to Pick a Robot for Manufacturing

Here are 6 steps to get you starting picking a robot without wasting time.

1. Nail Down Your Task

Before you even think about researching robot models, take a bit of time to really clarify the task you want to give to your robot.

There should be no ambiguity about what the robot will be doing. Those people who will be working alongside the robot should agree on the robot’s task.

2. Clarify the Task Steps

With the task “nailed down,” itemize all of the steps that the robot will take to complete it. Start to think about factors that will affect the size and other specifications of the robot, e.g. the distances between different steps and the weight of objects the robot will have to manipulate.

3. Identify the Required Robot Properties

Now comes the time when you can start thinking about what type of robot you will need and what properties it will require to carry out the task.

Key properties for robots include:

  • Type of robot (e.g. 6 DoF, Delta, Scara, Palletizing)
  • Payload (how much weight it can hold)
  • Reach (how far it can reach in its workspace)
  • Repeatability (how precise its movements can be)

Come up with an acceptable range for your task for at least the payload and reach.

4. Use the Selection Tools to Find Potential Robots

You can now use some of our useful software tools to narrow down your search for a robot.

These include:

  • The Robot Library — Here you can filter robots by property, allowing you to see a selection of suitable ones from various suppliers.
  • Robot Comparison Chart — Here you can compare different robot properties and choose which is best for you.
  • Robots by Reach — Here you can choose your desired reach and it will identify a robot that fits this requirement.

Identify a short-list of robots that could suit your task..

5. Consult Manufacturer or Supplier

Finally, now that you have a short-list, you can start to investigate further into your chosen robot brand. Consult with the manufacturers or robot suppliers, who will help you to decide between your chosen options. Even if they propose a different model than the one you identified, you’ll now be better informed to know if their proposal is a good one.

6. Pick End Effector and Sensors

The process of choosing your end effector and sensors is outside the scope of this article. However, the work you did at the beginning of this process to clarify the task will be very helpful at this stage.

Your supplier will be able to use this information to save you time by picking the right option for your robot and chosen task. When you have an end effector picked, it only takes 5 minutes to get it up and running in RoboDK.

With the right process, you don’t need to waste time picking a robot. You can get started quickly and easily!

What has stopped you from getting started with robots in the past? Tell us in the comments below or join the discussion on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or in the RoboDK Forum.

Alex Owen-Hill

About Alex Owen-Hill

Alex Owen-Hill is a freelance writer and public speaker who blogs about a large range of topics, including science, presentation skills at CreateClarifyArticulate.com, storytelling and (of course) robotics. He completed a PhD in Telerobotics from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid as part of the PURESAFE project, in collaboration with CERN. As a recovering academic, he maintains a firm foot in the robotics world by blogging about industrial robotics.

View all posts by Alex Owen-Hill

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *