Robots for everyone, everywhere. The roboticists came to exhibit their products on the Global Industry virtual fair, which was held from June 30 to July 3. On July 1, around ten of them, including Staübli, Kuka, Fanuc and ABB France presented the evolution of their offer during a webinar.
Three main lines of action emerge: more simplicity of programming and use, more adaptability and diversification, more collaboration. “We are going to move towards robotics which will undoubtedly be simpler, which will integrate new uses”, says Serge Nadreau, president of the professional union Symop.
This course is part of an evolution already underway in the face of market transformations: “Today, the robotics market is no longer driven simply by the automobile, but by the fabric of medium-sized industrial companies”, he continues. In addition, the COVID-19 crisis, which has weakened the automotive industry, is encouraging robot manufacturers to explore other industrial sectors.
Towards a simplification of programming interfaces
The difficulties highlighted by Vincent Lemonde, general manager of the Panarobotics company of the Galilé group, on the subject of robot programming, serve as a leitmotif for certain manufacturers who seek simplified, even intuitive, programming interfaces. “The robot is only one element among others, and it must interact with more and more complex elements”, he emphasizes.
The fact that each manufacturer has its own language and its own interface – which are often far from the current standards of ergonomics imposed by digital technology – is an obstacle to the democratization of robots in the industry. Indeed, training an operator in different robotic languages is costly and time consuming.
To avoid this pitfall, Panarobotics offers its Kactus platform, intended to group and universalize robotic languages by making them accessible via an ergonomic interface. This interface, already available on some Fanuc products, allows the operator to program a robot by dragging and dropping graphic blocks.
Eager to evolve towards ever more ergonomics, Fanuc offers a touch pad, with graphical programming and a library of functions. “Many companies, very small businesses, SMEs, will soon want to equip themselves with robots that are simple to install and use”, advises Nicolas Couche, product manager of the robotics division at Fanuc France.
For its part, ABB relies on its Wizard Easy Programming (WEP) environment, another programming interface based on a graphical block displacement system. Programmable on a PC, or directly on the robot’s console, this type of interface calls upon the visual capabilities of the programmer, who thus frees himself from the language of the manufacturer. This programming environment “Foreshadows what the future of robotic programming at ABB will be like”, launches Guillaume Pradels, project manager at ABB France.
Foster safe collaboration
Working with a human is sometimes difficult, for robots too. The current trend can be summed up in one sentence: “The man for the know-how, the machine for the painful and difficult tasks”, sums up Nicolas Couche, from Fanuc France. But employee safety is essential for the implementation of collaborative robots.
To comply with the ISO 10218-1 and ISO 10218-2 standards which govern the implementation of collaborative applications, manufacturers must seek technological solutions which make it possible to comply with them, while trying to maximize the speed and load capacity of the robots. collaborative – cobots.
Thus, in its new range of CRX cobots, Fanuc relies on integrated sensors to increase maneuverability while managing the presence of operators. Each of the 6 axes of the robot carries a force sensor which makes it extremely sensitive. Likewise, Bosch-Rexroth is trying to adapt its products to human presence, by implementing capacitive skin technology on its APAS robot.
“The advantage is that APAS is collaborative and completely safe, and that it removes the barriers and cells around the robot”, explains Jean-Baptiste Reymondon, from Bosch-Rexroth. This technology makes it possible to avoid collisions, by avoiding all contact. Less than 50 mm from the operator, the APAS stops dead. In these working conditions which require the robots to slow down, it is difficult to maintain the rapid pace specific to traditional robots.
The challenge is to gain agility to combine speed, security and high load capacity. So some people don’t hesitate to build smaller. Eduardo Jara, sales engineer at HumaRobotics, presents the A series of the Doosan range: robots capable of carrying up to 9 kg, 6 kg less than their predecessors of the M series. “We are on faster robots, with a slightly higher safety”.
Diversify the sectors of establishment
The crisis caused by COVID-19 pushes roboticists to seek customers outside the sectors traditionally using robots. “The idea is to take robotics out of its industrial shackles, to move towards more diverse environments”, exhibits Quentin Hérisson, while presenting the novelties of the Japanese manufacturer Yaskawa.
Likewise, Vincent Cheminel, sales representative at Staübli, insists that sectors such as the pharmaceutical industry and even the food industry are becoming extremely buoyant markets. “We are already very present in these emerging markets, and in relation to which we are strongly optimistic. ”
How to proceed ? We can take the example of the Kuka company, which has extended the temperature range over which its KR IONTEC robot can operate properly. The Japanese manufacturer is thus seeking to expand the industrial applications of its products. “0 ° C for the pharmaceutical industry for example, and 55 ° C if the robot is near a heat source such as an oven. This allows this robot to be used in many different applications ”, explains Emmanuel Bergerot of the Kuka company.
Another example of opening: the new range of Doosan robots. Eduardo Jara points out that “These robots are customizable in terms of torque and force sensors on each axis, as well as in terms of accessories and tools”, which can be an asset to adapt these robots to different industrial environments.