6 NEWEQUIPMENT.COM I NOVEMBER 2020BEHIND THE SCENES
The Next Move Towards Automation
How electrification and innovation are driving demand for SCARA assembly robots.
Over the last decade, it comes as no surprise that busi- nesses have been looking for ways to reduce the ef- fects of climate change as well as the dependence on oil and gas. One of the major ways to achieve thisis through electrification. While this might conjure images ofelectric vehicles, electrification is a broad-reaching trend thatimpacts everything from industrial vehicles—like forkliftsin warehouses to scooters and bikes. While this trend undoubtedly drives sustainability, it has also created a demandfor a certain segment of robotics.
1. What has the impact of electrification been on theindustrial automation industry?
Electrification is stimulating more need for investment inelectronics assembly equipment. Often, a SCARA (SelectiveCompliance Assembly Robot Arm or Selective ComplianceArticulated Robot Arm) is utilized for this type of assembly—requiring speed, precision, and consistency to keep upwith growing demand. Particularly during the pandemic,electronics assembly and automation is crucial to create a stabilized production process at a time when social distancing isa necessity. For manufacturers to produce products effectivelyand efficiently, we need people to operate these lines in tandem with robotic solutions that can take on the repetitive andlabor-intensive aspects of manufacturing.
Electronics assembly for electrification is peaking in popularity now, but it was also why Delta originally developed itsSCARA. Founded in 1971, Delta quickly became the world’slargest power supply manufacturer and thermal management solutions provider—making over 28 million powersupplies each month. This expertise allowed us to diversifyinto numerous markets, including automotive componentsfor electric vehicles, which led to the development of cutting-edge SCARA technology.
2. Are there any other drivers increasing theadoption of SCARA robots?
Electrification is the most prevalent, but the growth ofbin-picking applications for e-commerce and the overallfocus on reshoring manufacturing back to the United Statesare significant drivers. However, one of the biggest reasonsSCARA technology is growing in popularity is because ofthe improvement toward better accuracy and more control.In many cases, this has allowed it to replace traditional cartesian or 6-axis robots.
Why choose a SCARA robot? The need for speed, accuracy, and repeatability are more in line with the strengths ofSCARA solutions. When it is critical to control forces as accurately as possible, SCARA has the advantage. For instance,if assembly requires inserting a pin, force limitations can beset to make sure it goes in properly, even if perfect alignment is an issue. Directional force control is an area wherethis type of robot excels at. As electronics and goods becomemore and more lightweight, there will be a need for the assembly robotics to have more sensitive control of torque.
For a screw driving application, the SCARA can intelligentlycontrol the amount of force for the downward push and rotation of the screwdriver to ensure that fragile casings are notcracked during assembly.
Specific to Delta, we have a patented 5-axis SCARA solution that has nearly the range and capabilities of a 6-axis alternative, especially for certain applications. It allows for anglepick-and-place and 3-dimensional dispensing applicationsthat would normally require a more expensive 6-axis robot.This is one of the advancements that will continue to makeSCARA a more attractive option for other industries.
3. How is AI being used to add intelligence toSCARA robots?
AI, or artificial intelligence, is enabling industrial robots andmachines to perform increasingly complex jobs that requirehuman-like vision and recognition capabilities. A great example of AI’s advancements can be seen in SOLOMON’s intelligent, 3D vision solutions. The SOLOMON’s sensor can sit atopa random pile of parts and feed motion target information to aSCARA. It reviews the load in 3D and can tell the location thatthe part is sitting, the size, height, and angle needed to pick itup. This helps the robot determine the proper motion path forpicking up the required object—without collision of the robotcomponents against the bin sidewall. This is all calculated andcommunicated to the SCARA in real-time.
4. What are the benefits of open-source robotics?
Open source allows you to do all the kinematics yourself. When looking at a PC-based type system versus anembedded one, the PC base allows us to draw from the existing structured text or any programming languages. Mostof the robots available today have their own programmingenvironment or proprietary language. If you pick a specificrobot from one vendor, you have to learn its particular programming. With each robot being different, you must learna new code each time. If you have robots from different vendors, it can be challenging to make them work together dueto the fact that there are multiple programming languages.
However, open-source allows you to have individualmachine control while mixing and matching the code/textwith the open-source program. But more importantly, if theOEM wants to implement their own artificial intelligenceintegration—which includes high-level algorithms—open-source provides that option. All they have to do is pass certain data down to the robot to execute it. The robot controljust becomes an executor. The adoption of open source alsoopens the manufacturing industry to a broader talent pool.Now, any individual with knowledge of programming canmake an easier transition into the robotics and manufacturing industry.
For more, visit newequiment.com/21144449
By Bill Faber
Image courtesy of Delta Electronics.