When industrial robots work like they should, they are perfect. They work harder than humans, they’re more affordable than people, and most importantly, they don’t make mistakes. When there’s a problem with the machinery that goes unnoticed, however, industrial robots can botch tasks, or worse, break. Defective products are bad enough, but downtime is a financial nightmare.
A group of German engineers are currently working on a monitoring system that could help prevent errors and reduce downtime with industrial robots.
Engineers from Saarland University in Germany and the Center for Mechatronics and Automation Technology are developing a sensor system that can detect subtle changes in noise, vibration, or heat within a factory robot. The system can pick out slight changes in machinery that are otherwise undetectable. This means that maintenance could be performed before there’s an actual problem.
Diagnostics and performance monitoring are nothing new. If there’s a problem with your legacy Indramat system, for example, you’re notified by an error diagnostic message. However, the difference between your Indramat fault codes and this experimental monitoring system is that fault codes tell you when there’s a problem, whereas the system continuously monitors the performance of each component and identifies slight changes before they cause problems.
In the initial set up, the system monitors a machine as it works optimally for a set period of time. This gives the system a reference for how parts and components of the machine should run. The system learns how each component sounds, how they vibrate, and what temperature range they normally stay in.
The system then continuously monitors an industrial robot and compares the machine’s current performance to the optimal machine performance. Any slight variation could indicate a future problem, and this system gives operators the opportunity to resolve issues before they happen.
A system that can detect and correct even the smallest differences in a machine’s performance could greatly reduce errors and downtime. Plant owners can retrofit current industrial robots with this sensor system.
This system is still being tested, however. Until it’s readily available, you may still have to rely on your Indramat fault codes. Call us today if you need any service, repair, or support for your Indramat motion control system.