This blog was written by Chris Fields of Z-Axis Robotics, a partner of Southern Fabricating Machinery Sales, to answer some common questions about robotics equipment and how they impact a manufacturer's shop floor.

Robot Arm at FactoryWhat Are Industrial Robotics?

Robots are industrial machines that can aid production by handling repeated tasks and freeing up the human worker to focus on custom or one-off tasks.

What Industries Are Robots Used in?

Robots are used in many different industries, including:

  • Metalworking;
  • Textile;
  • Packaging and Handling;
  • Woodworking;
  • Polymer Manufacturing;
  • Press Handling;
  • Food Industry; and
  • many more!

A robot can be used to complete almost any task that a human is asked to repeat on a regular basis. This is why they're used in so many different industries and applications.

Points of Interest to the Customer

Some common questions that shop owners have about robotics when making a purchase include:

What is the Payload of the Manipulator (Robotic Arm)?

The "payload" of the manipulator is the maximum weight that it can pick up and manipulate at its full reach. This value is typically measured in kilograms (2.2 lbs. per Kilo). The higher the payload, the heavier the parts the robot can manipulate.

What is the Reach of the Manipulator?

Also known as the working envelope, this is the complete working range of the manipulator. It is often measured in both millimeters and degrees to represent the reach and range of motion the manipulator's possesses. The movement measured in degrees is often referred to as an axis of movement. Each axis of movement represents motion along a plane, with X, Y, and Z being the most common (for backward/forward, left/right, and up/down motions).

Additional axes of movement (yaw, pitch, and roll) may represent the ability of the manipulator to rotate to achieve a specific orientation.

What's the External Axis?

A piece of servo driven equipment that is typically used for positioning a part. This is an add-on option for many robotic armatures that can improve efficiency by turning a part for a robot's manipulator to access without the need for separate human intervention. 

How Fast is the Robot?

The speed of a robot is measured in degrees per second and inches per minute. However, that is not what the customer is asking typically. What they want to know is: "How fast can it do what I want it to do?"

The answer to this question is application-based. So, this is where an application expert needs to be introduced to provide a detailed and accurate answer.

What is My ROI?

Once again, this question is application-based. There are a variety of tools that we can use such as weld calculators, offline programming software, and experience. This is a tough question because robots are unique machine tools. Unlike a press brake that bends metal all day or a laser that cuts metal all day, a robot is a do-all machine or an open source. This is where we need to focus our energy and move quickly.

Robotic Welding Cell with 3 orange welding arms

Is the Robot Safe?

This is always going to come up during the sales process. This is not as slippery of a slope as you might think. However, there is the perception that robots are unsafe and can kill. There have been many advancements in robotics safety, and the last few years have been the most productive.

For example, there are new integrated area sensors in the robots that work with the robot's software to limit speed and torque once a human presence is detected. What is so nice about this new gadget is that it allows us to move away from bulky cells and the old way of doing things. I am looking into a few more of the external axis (headstocks, sliders, etc.) options currently. Once I get all of the details hammered down, we will begin to push a robot system that is $30,000 cheaper than our competitors.

End-Effectors, End of Arm Tooling, Fixtures

These are all very important parts of the robotic sales process. But, once again, process specific. There are many E.O.A.T. manufactures. We will buy off the shelf products such as drills, grinders, and welding torches as often as possible. 

Southern Fabricating Machinery Sales, Inc. and our partners, like Z-Axis Robotics, are all well-suited to help you with robotic or any other automation process for your shop. Call us today at 813-444-4555 or use our contact us page to set up a meeting!

Special Guest Blogger:
Chris Fields, Z-Axis Robotics
(248) 722-9487

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