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 A range of robots models are available to train with in the new training centre, enabling students to select a robot that most closely matches their own installations

Building the robot population

ABB Robotics’ Connected Services suite and a refurbished training area are intended to help UK manufacturers improve the economics and efficiency of operating and maintaining robots


he fall in price of next-generation robots means that the business case for implementing robotics across individual manufacturing lines has become stronger. Although way behind themarkets in the

rest of the EU and US, in the past 12months there has been a noticeable uptake in robotics in the UK. According toMikeWilson, ABB’s General

Industry Sales andMarketingManager, speaking at the company’s UKHQ inMilton Keynes: “We need to bridge the skills gap by implementingmore training;make robots easier to operate,maintain, supervise and own; andmake the economic case for robotic automationmore persuasively.” Wilson says that according to the IFRWorld

Robotics Report 2015, there are 16,935 robots in the UK, of which 5,000 are ABB’s. There are 1,200 large UKmanufacturing companies and 87,000 small- andmedium-sized enterprises (SMEs) –Wilson believes that between 10,000 and 20,000 of these are potential candidates for robotic automation. “After a long period of lagging behind the rest of the world, theUK is finally starting to see a growth in the take-up of robotic automation, as businesses start to recognise their competitive potential,” he adds. Inmanufacturing, thismay be:

 to speed up a high-volumemanufacturing process;  tomake a processmore flexible and reduce batch sizes and reduce changeover times;  tomake a processmore reliable; and  tomake a process safer. ABB Robotics has investedmore than £250,000

upgrading its UK training facility at AurigaHouse in Milton Keynes. The training centre now features the latest generation of robots and controllers to prepare UKmanufacturers for the smart factory era. Upgrades to the ABB Robotics training centre

include a number of ABB IRB 1200 units in new cells which have also been refurbished with guarding. Other robotmodels are available to train with, enabling students to select a robot thatmost closelymatches their own installations. New robot

controllers, together with theMultiMove and SoftMove programming software, allow UK manufacturers to improve safety and robot performance. Collaborative robots (COBOTs), such as ABB’s

YuMi launched in early 2016, are becomingmore significant inmanufacturing, particularly in introducing SMEs to automation. They can work safely alongside humans, doing repetitive or dangerous jobs, with no need for barriers, cages or zones. One of the courses added to the ABB portfolio covers installing a YuMi collaborative robot into a production cell within the shortest possible time.

CONNECTED SERVICES ABB Robotics has also introduced Connected Services, a sophisticated suite of resources enabling UKmanufacturers tomaximise robot uptime through fast data access and problemresolution. Delivered via an interface calledMyRobot,

Connected Services willmake actionable data immediately available to engineers andmaintenance staff via laptops, tablets and smartphones. Connected Services comprises four elements:

 Conditionmonitoring and diagnostics: robots can be accuratelymonitored at all times regardless of location in order to proactivelymaintain performance. Rather than responding to breakdowns once they’ve occurred, technical issues can be resolved at the earliest indication of problems through alarmnotifications sent by e-mail or SMS.  Backupmanagement: a full copy of a robot programso that if lost or damaged, it can be re- uploaded quickly and efficiently.  Remote access: quick and secure entry to robot controllers to address technical difficulties by maintenance engineers without themphysically visiting the factory floor.  Fleet assessment: through identifying the hardest working robots in a company and benchmarking themagainst ABB’s entire global population of connected robots, performance can be optimised and equipment lifetime extended. EE

December 2016 /// Environmental Engineering /// 39

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