When it comes to robotics and automation in the manufacturing industry, precision and accuracy are crucial for seamless operations. Not only does this ensure high-quality output but it also lends to a safer environment for humans to work in. Yaskawa South Africa’s National Sales Manager, Jan ‘t Hart details what goes into ensuring precision as a leading manufacturer of industrial robots, including the measures taken, as well as case studies that demonstrate and emphasise this. 

Understanding the importance of precision and accuracy is paramount in the manufacturing industry, and of course this is one of the primary reasons robotics were invented in the first place. Drilling is just one of many operations that require the utmost precision, as ‘t Hart explains, using Kare Sheet Metal Products materials as an example. Kare is a renowned sheet metal fabricator in South Africa that has been in operation since the 1970s.  “For this particular application, we are using a Yaskawa GP50 robot to perform a drilling operation for a frame that holds batteries for the railway industry,” he says. The fabricated frame used in this application requires holes to be drilled into the structure so that cover plates can be bolted onto it. Due to these particular requirements, the robot is furnished with a drilling unit. To achieve precision drilling, the robot places the drill to pre-programmed positions, guaranteeing accuracy to +/-0,25 mm every time it is operated.

Several factors contribute to ensuring accuracy in industrial robots:

  1. Precision Engineering: Industrial robots are built with high-precision components and mechanisms, such as high-accuracy gears, bearings, and motors, to minimize backlash and mechanical errors.
  2. Calibration: Regular calibration ensures that the robot’s movements correspond accurately to the programmed instructions. Calibration involves fine-tuning various parameters to maintain accuracy over time.
  3. Feedback Systems: Many industrial robots are equipped with sensors and feedback systems that provide real-time data on position (absolute encoders), velocity, and other variables. This feedback enables the robot to make adjustments and corrections to ensure precise movement.
  4. Control Algorithms: Advanced control algorithms govern the robot’s motion, taking into account factors such as inertia, friction, and external forces. These algorithms optimize the robot’s trajectory to achieve the desired accuracy.
  5. End Effector Design: The design and calibration of the end effector (the tool or device attached to the robot’s arm) play a crucial role in accuracy. A well-designed end effector ensures precise manipulation of objects.
  6. Environment Monitoring: Industrial robots often operate in dynamic environments where factors like temperature, humidity, and vibration can affect accuracy. Monitoring and compensating for these environmental variables help maintain accuracy.
  7. Maintenance and Inspection: Regular maintenance and inspection protocols are essential to identify and address any issues that could impact accuracy, such as wear and tear on components or misalignments.
  8. Training and Programming: Proper training of personnel responsible for programming and operating the robot ensures that it is used effectively and that tasks are programmed accurately to achieve the desired results.

Another real-world example of Yaskawa’s assistance in maintaining accuracy is with MK Design’s bit point placement on continues miner cutter drums. The Continuous Miner is designed for underground Room & Pillar mining method. Designed to mine soft rock (coal, potash and salt), the continuous miner can operate at seam height of 1.6m – 4.5m at a rate of 14 – 20 tons per minute. T’Hart elaborates on the robot’s significance in this application, saying: “On this rotating drum, bit points are placed and welded at very specific positions on the drum. The robot is used to position the pit points, picking and placing them accurately for the welder”. Using a robot increases the quality and predictability of the operation, a critical factor in the mining industry.

For Yaskawa Southern Africa, precision and accuracy are essential components of effective robotics, and this is especially so in the manufacturing industry. By understanding the challenges and embracing innovative solutions, manufacturers can navigate the complexities of modern robotics with ease. The pursuit of precision and accuracy will remain at the forefront of robotic advancements, shaping the landscape of automation for years to come..

Yaskawa South Africa’s National Sales Manager, Jan ‘t Hart

By Admin