10 Festive Ways to Benefit from Offline Programming

Whether you’re trying to catch up with end-of-year orders or you’ve got some spare time on your hands, this is the perfect time of year to get the most from offline programming.

This time of year can be very busy. Sure, some businesses calm down during the festive season, they’re able to relax and think about next year. However, other businesses are in a rush trying to keep up with the influx of new orders.

No matter if you’re trying to meet a rush of last-minute orders or you just want to get a head start on next year’s work, offline programming can help.

Here are 10 festive ways you can reduce the strain at this time of year with offline programming.

1. Program a New Batch As Another Is Running

One of the huge benefits of offline programming is that it allows you to program your next batch of products while the robot is still operating. This significantly reduces the downtime of the robot cell compared to online programming.

For this reason, offline programming would have been useful for a group of researchers at Lund University, Sweden who used an ABB robot to wrap gifts. In their research paper, they explained that the online programming they used was quite restrictive as they couldn’t program the next gift-wrapping sequence while the robot was running. This is no good if you have to wrap different gift sizes! With offline programming it would have been easy.

2. Run Some Silly Robot Programs for Fun

What can you do with offline programming if you haven’t got huge batches of new orders? Why not just run some silly robot programs for fun!

The team at FZI clearly had some time to kill recently. They made this 2018 Christmas video for all the teams that use ROS (the Robot Operating System). It shows robots completing the whole manufacturing and delivery sequence, including milling cookie shapes, applying decorative icing, packing them into boxes, and wrapping them as gifts.

If you’ve got nothing to do at this time of year, you could take a leaf out of FZI’s book and program a silly, festive application with your offline programming software.

3. Program Robots to Make the Food

FZI’s robots were making cookies, but that’s not all robots can do. With offline programming, robots can produce all kinds of foods, as we showed in our post Would You Eat Robot 3D Printed Food?

What better way to show off your robot programming skills than to print a meal for the whole team!? Or, if that doesn’t sound appetizing, you could always just leave the robot to do your work while you and the team all go to a local restaurant.

4. Plan Next Year’s First Batch

There’s nothing worse than coming back to work after the New Year holiday and having to start everything from scratch — starting new orders, launching new projects, and trying to remember what you were doing before you left.

There’s a simple solution to this: Don’t start from scratch!

With offline programming, you can get a head-start on next year’s orders, so you’ll be able to jump back into them as soon as you return.

5. Use Metrology to Spy Into Your Gifts

When we were children, we enjoyed guessing what was inside our gifts before we were allowed to open them. We would have loved a robot which could see through the wrapping, using metrology sensors.

Even though we might have lost the excitement of guessing our presents as adults, there still are reasons we might want to look inside a wrapped gift. For example, to remember what we put inside — and who it was supposed to be for — when we wrapped it ourselves and forgot to stick on a label.

Whatever your reasons for inspecting might be, offline programming is a great way to program your metrology robot, as we described in 5 Steps to Assess If You Can Use a Metrology Robot.

6. Start a New Project Without Getting in the Way

Most of us have new projects in mind for the New Year. If you’ve managed to meet all your current deadlines, you might like to make a start on your new ideas for robot projects.

The only problem is that you don’t want your new programming to interfere with the currently-running robot program, especially if it’s working hard to meet the end-of-year orders.

Offline programming is a perfect way to try out new ideas without impacting the robot’s productivity.

7. Sign Greetings Cards

It’s always a nice touch when you receive a hand-written greetings card at this time of year, isn’t it? But, it’s a pain to have to actually sign them all by hand.

Sounds like a job for robotic automation!

Drawing robot arm

Last year, robotics hobbyist Simone Giertz programmed a KUKA robot to sign 2000 greetings cards for her YouTube audience. The problem was that her programming was not exactly precise. What she needed was RoboDK! We listed “drawing” as one of our Top 10 Tasks for Offline Programming — you can load an SVG image file and convert it to a robot path.

8. Prepare Quotes Quickly

Every business wants to start the New Year with a list of new orders. The problem is that new orders usually start with new quotes, and that means you have to put in the work to create those quotes.

Thankfully, offline programming can speed up the quoting process significantly, as we explained in 10 Excellent Ways to Save Time With Offline Programming. You can send out a bunch of new quotes before you go on holiday and look forward to plenty new orders when you return.

9. Pick Your New Robot

Everybody deserves to give themselves a gift at this time of year. This is also true for businesses. Why not buy your business a new robot for the New Year?

It’s difficult to choose between all of the robots available on the market. However, with RoboDK you can easily “test drive” hundreds of different robots with your application to help you pick the best one for you.

10. Let the Robot Do the Work… and Enjoy Yourself!

Of course, you might not want to get started on the New Year’s orders or begin a new project. You might just want to relax, kick back, and enjoy the days of relative quiet before the madness of the festive season really gets started.

Offline programming can also help you in this situation. Just program your robot to perform whichever tasks are most important, press “play” and relax.


What robot-related plans do you have for the new year? 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

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