The FANUC CR- 35iA collaborative robot has been used in automotive applications, such as this tire-loading operation. It has a 35-kg payload.

productivity advantage over safety systems that completely stop a robot when people come close,” he added. “It en- sures safe standstill supervision of the robot axis, so an op- erator can work in close proximity to a robot without having to switch the robot motors off.” SafeMove2 also includes a cyclic brake check so brakes are checked on a regular basis to ensure their reliability. Zhang said SafeMove2 is part of the increasing trend for

digitalization in automation, and represents an evolution from hardware to software. “This new generation of Safe- Move integrates safety features directly into the robot con- troller software for full flexibility and expandability,” he said.

Fast, easy cobot deployment Collaborative robot pioneer Universal Robots (Odense, Denmark) this fall introduced its new showroom of plug- and-play application solutions, called Universal Robots+, at IMTS in Chicago. The online showroom is being touted as offering companies a new level of simplicity in gaining the applications needed to hit the ground running when installing their next UR collaborative robots from Universal, which was founded in 2005. Universal Robots+ lets distributors and end users choose

accessories, end effectors and software solutions from Uni- versal Robots, speeding up deployment times on installing the UR3, UR5 and UR10 model cobots for manufacturing applications. In addition, the company will introduce a free


developer program, called +You, for marketing and support given to UR robot application developers. “We’re getting to the point where the early adoption

stage is ending, and [collaborative robots are] getting more accepted in the production environment,” said Doug- las Peterson, Universal Robots general manager, Americas. “Companies are testing them and the biggest trend is the closer they’re getting to working with humans. Robots are getting out of their cages and working alongside people, and making automation more accessible.” Key features of UR robots are that you don’t have to be an engineer with 10 years’ experience, Peterson noted, and they can be easily redeployed. Collaborative robots are light enough to put on a cart where workers easily wheel them around to redeploy them as they’re needed. “We’re seeing them in a lot of machine-tending applications.” With a collaborative robot, the time it takes you to unpack it to the time it’s in use is very minimal. “We call it an out-of-the-box solution. Payback for our robot is about 195 days, in some cases one year, or as low as one to two months,” Peterson said, adding that it takes only about an hour to unpack and put into service. Programming a UR robot is easy, too, allowing a novice

to program simple moves in no time, he added. “You have a device that’s similar to an iPad. It’s a touchscreen using arrows, and you can program in different waypoints. You can also use the arm to program it.”

Fall 2016

Photo courtesy FANUC America Corp.

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