Integrator Support Services

intgrtrsvc3

Integrator support services

What are integrator support services, you may ask? Integrator support comes in a variety of offerings. Inscho Solutions and isorobotics.com offer several that may be of great benefit to engineering and integration solution providers. These benefits include consultation, build support, factory authorization support, site installation, commissioning, and down the road support.

How it works

Generally a concept statement, order of operations, and layout provide most of the information we need to help you out. From those blueprints and schematics are derived. Then the assembly, wiring, programming, and testing follow.

Concept Statement

What if I don’t have a concept statement? That’s ok. We can help.

Order of operations

What if I don’t have an order of operations? That’s ok. We can help.

Layout

What if I don’t have a layout? That’s ok. We can help.

So give us a call or email to see how we can help.

205-217-3173

www.isorobotics.com

 

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Things to know about your robot health

1 – Don’t Assume

A robot’s expected life can’t be assumed. They tell you when you buy dialindimgit,”it will last for x number of years”. They also disclaim that it entirely depends on a number of factors. Only by actually evaluating its condition can you be more predictive of remaining service life. There are many contributing factors to robot health. Aggressiveness of the programming, accurate payload setting, contact occurrence, e-stop usage, and age are all contributors. Using collected data we can effectively evaluate a predicted remaining life cycle. Though this isn’t an absolute, it is very reliable.

2- Programming

Your programming paths and payload settings are key in having a long service life expectancy. Are the moves your robot makes smoothly moving along the most efficient paths? Extra motion and double back moves happen. But, if you can get creative to smooth these paths out you can increase your robot life. Cycle time versus duty cycle almost always work against each other in dealing with near limit integrations. Improper payload calculations when designing and improper payload settings are two of the most damaging ways to reduce robot joint life. These ways cause the logic over drive or under drive the load creating unexpected stress on the axis internals. I know of one company that just discovered after 7 years of changing harmonic drives out every 8 months that they had nothing entered for payload settings. That cost them $3200 every 8 months!

3- Contact occurences

Contact at some point is unavoidable. Otherwise what robotic work could you be doing? Some contact requires force sensing software to eliminate erosion of joint health. Any time the robot is “feeling” for its place it should have some form of sensitivity software. estop-mdBut, did you know that E-stop misuse is just as bad as a crash? The only difference is external contact can be recognized with paint loss and alarms. E-stopping is for emergency stoppage. It creates an internal contact that cannot be seen and has no alarm to reset. Your process should allow for controlled stops when there is no real emergency. Your culture should promote awareness that supports safety first. That goes without saying. When training disconsiders the difference between emergencies and convenience robot life expectancy is dramatically reduced.

4- Age

Is your robot over 3 years old? If so, two things should have occurred by now. One is your recommended preventative maintenance. The other is, less likely to be practiced, lash measuring.  This is the physical measurement of how much play there is in the harmonic or reducer.Tolerances are published to give you data to determine the physical health of your robot joint (axis). Axis disturbance and over current observations coupled with your lash measurements can be a highly effective predictor of robot joint remaining service life. If you conducted baseline measurement of these when you first got the robot you have the best reference point for determining joint mechanical erosion. If your robot is 3 years old or less it is still a good time to get a reference. However, the longer past 3 years you get your baseline, the less effective in determining remaining service life.

5- Robot Health Reportisohlthrptad13feb19

That is what I call it. I have a free copy of the worksheet for a Fanuc robot on my website. Whatever form you use to collect and store your data for future reference, make sure you can access it and make sure yo use it.  Compare your data with allowable tolerances to give you real measured data to determine effectively your robot’s remaining service life. If this article helped or if you would like to know more, please feel free to reach out to me at http://www.isorobotics.com/contact. 

Posted in Uncategorized

Fanuc RJ2/RJ3 Panic:

surrender-emoticon-vector-10065682

When parts are scarce, and there’s diminishing support

The long running and once reliable Fanuc RJ2 and RJ3 controllers are nearing obsolescence as support is literally dying out. Parts will become increasingly difficult to find. Realizing that these controllers are going the way of the ABB S4 and others, there is a growing panic among maintenance teams about what to do.

All brands have released new architecture controllers to add value to their brand. But, the side effect is that it is no longer prudent to support the old architecture. Shopping on E-bay and Robotworx will only get you so far. In the last six months I have seen two RJs fail and be down for weeks waiting on parts, or the parts they got didn’t work, or they were not available and the end-user had to scavenge sister companies for bone yard parts. These events will only worsen.

What should you do?

How many down time events will it take to offset the cost of an upgrade? Only your operation can make that determination, but as you weigh the costs, be sure to evaluate the hidden costs associated with down time.

Each operation has a cost per unit budget. Oversimplified, the things that impact it most are raw materials, labor cost, and how many units can be produced in a given amount of time. If you are experiencing increasing down time you are probably increasing staff (more people or more overtime hours) in production or maintenance. I have seen an operation hire a maintenance tech to be stationed at a line to keep it running. Make sure you are counting these people in your evaluation of the cost of down time to realize the true unit per hour cost.

It’s also important to weigh issues such as reliability, the lower long-term cost, and the safety and ease of maintenance of the newer generation controllers.

Here are a few reasons to consider upgrading:

  • Newer, more trouble-free controllers and more autonomous automation strategies available today support the “buy now” strategy.
  • With the number of robot sales soaring in the last decade, it is likely that there will be more parts available in 10 to 15 years than right now. This is, no doubt, the single best time in robot history to upgrade.
  • Right now the controls architecture being offered is the best it’s ever been with over 20 years of “what if we did this” answers built in.
  • Data collection has never been easier. Real time data gives you real-time productivity to give you the tools you need to make adjustments to improve your cost to produce.
  • SAFETY with your cost to produce, Today’s controllers offer the safest operation of your cell with dual check safety zone 4D graphic representation. They also offer a greater degree of troubleshooting and onboard diagnostics.

Upstream process improvement first?

Shouldn’t you consider an upstream process improvement before making the decision to upgrade? Not necessarily.

Downstream processes should be addressed first to assure they do not become the bottleneck. You know that the slowest part of your operation controls the optimum output. So any improvement of that part improves output up to the next slowest part of your operation.

Look first at all robotic capacity with the mindset that moving towards zero down time can have the largest impact on your output.

In practical terms, if the new robotic system welds, stacks, inspects, de-gates, bin picks, picks and places faster, it give you more room to grow around the cell to improve output. If your palletizer stacks faster, cleaner, and more reliably, your whole upstream process can be improved up to the speed of your palletizer.

Keep in mind that anticipating 8% per year increase is healthy and your robotic cell output should be geared to handle at least five year’s worth of that improvement.

r30ibplusimg

I recommend upgrading to the R30iB Plus controller by Fanuc. This is the most powerful Fanuc offering to date. I can’t imagine this much improvement again in the next 10 to 15 years. This controller simplifies cabling, improves process speed, improves process accuracy, improves process safety, provides higher speed irvision capabiity, minimizes concept to production time reducing cost of programming and debugging, offers absolute positioning for line tracking and the list goes on. All the major manufacturers have improved their controllers, but none have done so to the extent Fanuc has with its R30iB Plus compared to the RJs.

With limited time remaining on the life and reliability of your old RJs, I would strongly encourage devising and implementing a plan now  Being prepared always lessens the impact and panic associated with machine failure. You know it is coming, so do the work now.

Yes, it’s worth it. There will never be a less expensive time to upgrade.

For more information on how to get started with planning and upgrading, contact me at ron@isorobotics.tech

Posted in Uncategorized

Are you ready for Zero Robot Downtime?

Whether you have 3 robots or 3,000, your productivity hinges on their reliability. Short of a crystal ball, how will you predict what’s likely to go wrong, much less when?

Fanuc is bringing to market something better than a crystal ball: ZDT, or Zero Down Time.

This software package with cloud accessibility has already changed how the automotive industry addresses predictive reliability, using IIOT/Industry 4.0. Since its rollout in 2017 it has proved effective in reducing production downtime, scheduling maintenance as needed, and increasing the life and value of Fanuc robots.

Now it’s available to all Fanuc robot owners with R30ia and newer controllers.
IMG_20180427_121149856_HDR

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most companies fall into one of two categories when it comes to preventative maintenance on their robot assets; it’s either by the book or upon failure. This ADT tool provides the data required to determine when maintenance is needed rather than the homogenous, by-the-book recommendations.

Daily communication reports provide a 20-line look at what’s really going on with your robot, including valuable information about the reducer health, pulse coder noise, backlash detection and more. Predictive and preventative maintenance information are available at your fingertips 2/7 with additional 24/7 Fanuc support. You can see how valuable this information could be in heading off potential downtime.

But there is more.

Monthly health reports dig deeper, analyzing the health and function of your robot with additional data regarding robot utilization, aggressive motion, e-stop activity, open and approaching maintenance items. There’s also a monthly summary of activity, robot communication issues, and energy consumption data.

 

Notifications allow you to take action upon being alerted. With detailed event, likely cause, and usual remedy, you can dispatch maintenance ahead of potential failures.

IMG_20180427_121400094_HDR

 

Does it work? Yes. Over 16,000 robots world-wide are using ZDT. Early on we’ve seen over 300 down time events avoided.

How much does a single down time event cost you? It isn’t hard to cost justify your operation moving to Zero Down Time. Just one avoided event would certainly more than pay for this valuable service. Add to that the value of extending your robot’s service life and there’s no reason not to install ZDT.

ZDT is a free software upgrade for R30ia controllers and is already on R30ib+. All you pay for is for the hardware, installation and set-up of the hardware, a low per robot annual subscription and ZDT set-up fee.

Call me at 205-217-3173 or any Authorized Fanuc Integrator for more information or to get started today.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Going Robot in Four steps

kl-019

 

 

First quarter sales have set new records again according to this RIA article:

https://www.robotics.org/content-detail.cfm/Industrial-Robotics-News/North-American-Robotics-Market-Sets-New-First-Quarter-Shipments-Record/content_id/7174

It is interestingly fueled by seemingly over served industries like the Automotive manufacturing industry. I am convinced that if robotics is going to continue its strong growth that it will have to reach into the under served sectors of industry. Most of these go unnoticed and fly far under the radar. Industries like small machine manufacturers, band saw blade indistry,  food prep and processing, and the list goes on. Are you in an under served industry?

While some robot manufacturers are going cute with their barristas and bar-bots, I think we are missing out on some great growth that is not in automobile support industries.

Machine tending, material handling, and other laborious hands on tasks can all be handled with robotic automation. Consistent repeatability for these tasks makes robotics an attractive offering. They show up every day, they do not require breaks or vacations, and their cost per unit produced is predictable.

As a young collegian one of the jobs I took was stacking pallets of RC Cola at a bottling company. Along side of me was a collegiate athelete. We were constantly trying to out stack each other. We consistently completed more stacks than our other work mates. This led to an inconsistency for our employers in terms of predicting cost per unit. Robot stacking and palletizing offers consistency across all lines. No more trying to predict production from stacking and palletizing discrepencies.  No more getting temporary labor to cover in high turnover positions making results unpredictable. No more redistributing your staff to cover for gaps in production coverage. As you start to consider all that consistency through robotics offers, the decision becomes easier. But, how do you get started?

Getting started is easy:

  • Determine if your upstream process is consistent
  • Determine your projected growth (plan for nlt 8%/ year) (units per minute/hour)
  • Determine the foot print that you can provide for the process
  • Contact an Authorized Integrator

As a Fanuc authorized integrator you can reach out to me by visiting ww.isorobotics.com for more information.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Year End Flyer

yrend17ad

Posted in Uncategorized

Tips from the Field

logoicon35r3     Device Net fun.

I was recently asked to add inputs and outputs to a Nachi robotic spot weld cell.

They had tried to convert the 1769 controller to a version 20 from a version 23 and had lost some documentation and in the process loaded the wrong program. The program they loaded was for the I/O for the fixtures to be installed on the backplane. The program installed at the factory did not have the modules installed on the backplane and no provision was made to add it there or as a node on device net. The stage is set.

1769img

 

The on-site personnel attempted to install an I/O block from a source that I will not name that no longer has any device net support on staff, but still sells the components. Not only did they sell it, but they shipped the unit with no initialization documentation. This presented the 04-77 LED display on the 1769 scanner indicating that there was a node 4 but it couldn’t see what.

ADimg

As you that have experience with device net may know the network has to “see” the gateway for you to configure or map it. After many attempts to troubleshoot (60 ohms across the can, v+ 24dc, etc) I sought another unit to replace it.

 

Once the replacement unit was installed it was immediately recognized. Always good to see solid Green.

 

Turk DeviceNet IMG

 

Now it was a matter of registering the device with the EDS provided and determining where to map (place in) the I/O. This is where it got interesting. On the initial glance I did not see any I/O being used over double word 14. So I mapped to start at double word 20 with 6 bytes in and 6 bytes out. Those bytes represent 2 for the status of the Turk gateway and 2 each for the input modules then 2 for the gateway register and 2 for each output module.

edsimg

 

 

After updating the controller tags and starting the system I would notice an occasional strobing of an output. It looked like I had competing OTE instructions. After a quick cross reference I discovered that the controller was using double words in the 20’s and had to remap the I/O to start in the double word 30’s.

 

This cost 2 hours on a Saturday. So for everyones benefit double check your existing I/O before mapping your new.

I hope this helps avoid a potential Device Net time gobbler.

If you have Device Net and would have a need for adding, modifying, or converting your Device Net to Ethernet, you can reach out to me by clicking HERE.

ron@isorobotics.tech

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Robots = Jobs

I will keep this one short and let this CBS report do most of the talking.

https://www.therobotreport.com/news/cbs-news-shows-how-using-robots-created-140-jobs

I think all too often companies look at reduced labor cost over redeployment or retention of good employees to improve profitablity by reduced cost per unit from increased throughput.

This article simply shows how one company created jobs with the use of robots. With the introduction of collaborative robots you can have employees working side by side doubling capacity and having a human eye nearby assuring effiecient operation.

Weigh in. How else can robots increase jobs in America and the world?

Posted in Uncategorized

Robot related death in Opelika

Preventable at every level

 

safe-vs-unsafe-concept-switch-colourful-d-rendered-illustration-33221454[1](1).jpg

*dreamtime stock photo

A 20-year-old woman was killed in June by a welding robot at a manufacturing facility in the Opelika area of Alabama. Media reports indicate that she attempted repair of a sensor malfunction herself and the robot moved, pinning her between machines and leading to her death.

Having worked in many plants, I have to wonder: How could this happen? Are there really
systems in operation allowing automatic (non-collaborative) robot motion with someone within reach? Had safety circuits in the Opelika plant been
jumped or otherwise defeated? Was there demonstrated behavior by those around the woman who was killed that led to her attempt? Was the company invested in training best practices for safe operation of all equipment? Of all these important issues to be considered, the question that resonates with me is, “Did the integrator miss something in designing the cell?”

When a horrific and preventable tragedy such as this one occurs, all of us who install, repair or make use of  industrial robotics in our workplaces SHOULD do some second-guessing and re-examining of how we’re doing on safety measures. Do you feel confident in how well your team understands and practices safety?
Here are some questions to help assess where you stand in relation to the safety of your team.

Was the system designed properly?

The cell or robot work zone should have adequate protection to prevent human workers from coming in contact with a robot in automatic operation. Safe entry and access points kochpic215aug161should disable automatic motion upon entry. Robot motion must be limited or the cell guarding large enough to disallow pinch points within 5.5″ of a 1″ x 1″ square mesh guard. For more, click ISOSTANDARDSROBOT.

Safety circuitry should disallow automatic or autonomous robot motion upon entry of the work zone and when workers are in the presence of non-collaborative robots. It is commonplace that robot work zones have entry points to service the zone, clear jams, or reset the zone to operation. These entry points should have dual channel safety switches that are wired to disallow automatic or autonomous robot motion upon entry.

Robot motion must not be allowed to reach the guarding, creating pinch points where injuries occur. Two of the methods used are designing the guarding to be outside the robot reach and electronically limiting robot reach by a motion limiting software.

One example of a motion limiting software is the Dual Check Safety available from FANUC.dcs

In the example pictured above, zones are created that disallow motion circumstantially. The zones can be set up to allow deceleration approaching borders and motors off. In a recent factory authorization test, I tested the limits across each of these areas until I was satisfied the zones were working and safe. The above set-up allows a pallet to be safely loaded and unloaded from one side as the robot works to palletize the other. Any encroachment by worker or robot of the safe zone disables automatic operation. If the robot breaches the safe zone it turns the motors off and applies the brakes for a sudden stop. To move the robot it takes a special procedure carried out with the hand held device and then only small portions of motion are allowed. The safe circuitry and logic in place considers the gate switches, light curtains, and station the robot is working on prior to allowing entry. In this set-up only one pallet can be stacked at a time.

Are your people trained?

In the death of the 20-year-old woman in the Opelika plant, the employer,  the integrator, and the hiring agency were all cited as liable by OSHA. It is imperative, crucial, critical, necessary, urgent, uncompromisable (new word), to train all who come in contact with a non-collaborative or collaborative robot in its safe operation. Only one person should be within the robot’s reach when operating manually. At no time should the access point be closed with someone within the robot’s reach. At no time should automatic operation image3201of the robot be attempted with anyone within the robot’s reach. At no time should any safety circuit be defeated, jumped, or by-passed allowing robot motion with someone within its reach. These all seem too obvious. When the up-time is considered more critical than safe operation, the environment for disaster is prevalent. You as decision makers, workers, maintenance people, and management have to condition yourselves to disallow unsafe thinking.
When we create an environment in which production is valued over safety, the only possible outcome is disaster.

Restated
It is incumbent upon all of us to work ahead of problems to prevent unsafe thinking. The decision, at any level, that a loss in production is considered to be the sort of “emergency” which seemingly “justifies” poor judgement and unsafe behavior is unsafe thinking.

Do you need an objective assessment?

An objective evaluation of your facility’s safety measures and employee adherence and buy-in may well prove to be key in averting disaster. Despite your commitment to safety, it can be all too easy to create a subtle value system in which production takes precedence.

A competent risk assessment from a third party can identify your vulnerabilities and exposure, and provide a detailed plan for addressing them.

I would like to help.

Contact me at ron@isorobotics.tech to schedule your safe operation audit and review, which will include an extensive report of observed practices, an assessment of safety manuals and training documentation, evaluation of your robotics safety system’s integrity, recommendations for system safe upgrades, a training action plan, and an overall safety score.

Posted in Uncategorized

Rockwell Fair and Fanuc’s presence

Rockwell Automation Fair 2016

World Congress Center Atlanta, GA

Premier Automation Event

I wasn’t sure what they meant by the word “Premier” in the following description from the Rockwell Automation Fair web site, but I had a day and decided to check it out.  I was not disappointed.

Premier Automation Event

The Automation Fair® event is the ideal opportunity to discover how The Connected Enterprise can help you achieve faster time to market, optimize your assets, lower your total cost of ownership and improve enterprise risk.

  • Industry forums, hands-on labs and technical sessions were offered to expand your knowledge and use of the latest control, power and information technologies
  • Over 150 exhibits from Rockwell Automation and our PartnerNetwork members showcased the newest innovations and solutions
  • Networking opportunities with industry experts and peers

img_20161109_122317525

What I missed

I only had a day to check out this event — and that was my loss, since I missed all the technical sessions due to late registration. There was too much to see in the short time I sliced out for the event, so I could not sit in on a lot of information about the connected enterprise and so much more. There were a large variety of technical sessions and programs that proved to be way too much to see in the 4 hours I spent on the floor.img_20161109_153426024_hdr

 

What I did not miss

What I did not miss was the chance to talk to other integrators and solution providers, engineers, product representatives, and of course the Fanuc Collaborative robot demo and booth. I also made it to the Rockwell Automation booths for connected enterprise, safety PLC, Designer Logix and more. Some of the top names in the business were represented: SMC, Numatics, Weiss, Mettler Toledo, and numerous others. In addition, there was a live STEM demonstration.img_20161109_135829501img_20161109_134016987_hdr

More than I expected

While I was fortunate enough to receive invitations from Kawasaki Robotics to Pack Chicago and Kendall Electric , I couldn’t do both. Competing schedules placed me in the position of having to choose. In the end, I chose Atlanta largely because it meant less travel time.

From the time I registered, I was impressed by “the process.” The schedule of events was provided via a phone app that allowed me to map the event and schedule my time or select my areas of emphasis. Grounds parking and signage at the World Congress Center were easy to navigate. Inside there was plenty of help in addition to the plethora of event signage.

My host, Kendall Electric, had a table near the front for me to sign in. There was no line when I went to get my badge — but accommodations had been made in case there had been lines. A TSA-style nylon maze pathway waited.

I went to the kiosk and entered my last name and it printed my badge. The exhibit floor was three floors down and a couple of hundred yards away.  Since it was the lunch hour. I decided to scan the exhibit floor for interest, eat, then return with a plan to just spend time where I had the most interest. This turned out to be short-sighted decision because there were only 2 or 3 vendors from among the hundred or so there that did not hold great interest for me.

My first priority was to exlore solutions for a couple of projects I’ve been working on that have stalled for lack of adequate components in the marketplace. This proved fruitful, as possible solutions were discussed. One actuator was accurate to 4/60th’s of a degree.

Next I went towards all things robotic in nature, and met Mecco Product Specialist Ryan Pillar.  Mecco is a laser and dot peen marking provider who will be competitive in filling an option in a quote I have out, but I had never heard of them until this event. They were using a Fanuc lr mate to insert a screwdriver into the marking area of the laser and drop it into a chute as a gift for the recipient.oP0pt.jpg

Fanuc has a strong demonstration

Then it was on to the Fanuc areas. They had a representative presence at the show and a strong interest demonstrated by the number of fair attendees in line at their booth. First on my agenda was a visit to their collaborative robot cr-35ia demonstration. The big green panel covered robot was stacking and unstacking boxes that were heavier than you would expect from a collaborative robot. (If you are interested in a collaborative robot, or other industrial robot, or robotic cell contact me by clicking here.)img_20161109_144206100

After a discussion about where collaborative robots fit in the marketplace with Gregory D Buell I moved on to the Fanuc main booth. A large and mostly yellow thing taking up a large portion of convention floor real estate, it was easy to find.

img_20161109_145622045

Fanuc had several robots on display demonstrating a wide variety of uses from pick and place to Robodrill, to CNC, and another collaborative robot doing an assembly.

There was a great deal of interest in the CNC robot at this show, with crowds gathering to watch it cut a geodesic dome top pencil holder and present it to the next in line.

img_20161109_145650091 img_20161109_145707268img_20161109_152914192I had a great interest in the Fanuc displays. Early in my career I had a class at Trenholm that inspired my direction towards robotics and automation under Ralph Burton. Also, I cut my teeth on Fanuc robot material handling cell installations. So I was happy to be greeted by a familiar Fanuc face, Dick Motley. I hadn’t seen him in years, dating back to a programming class I had taken in NC. We spent a little time discussing my business, Inscho Solutions, integrator and manufacturer collaborations being modeled after AMPEX and Sony, and his move to Charlotte. Then my time was winding down. Much like a kid in a candy store, I was busy trying to get as much in as I could. The Rockwell Safety PLC programming was of interest, the new scanning sensor capabilities, and the STEM booth where young ones were conducting demonstrations. I ran out of time. Here are a few pictures of the event that was much larger than this gallery can illustrate.

Gallery

I plan to be more prepared for the Atlanta show, next time. It will start with early registration. Then I will arrange to be early, stay late, go with a colleague, and a friend to try to glean all we can from the event. I had been interested in several of the sessions as a continuing education supplement to certain areas of automation. Every session seat was full because of my late registration. If you have time and are interested in what is upcoming in the world of automation this is among the must attend shows!

For more details about the fair,  click here.

 

Posted in Allen Bradley, Automation, Collaborative robot, Fanuc, PLC, HMI,Operator Interface Programming, Robot, Robotics, Rockwell Automation
%d bloggers like this: