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Software features to enhance collaborative robots

Posted April 24, 2018

When setting up collaborative robots in manufacturing plants, it is important for users to be aware of different software functions like programming standards and safety plane functions. These are meant to improve the functionality of the collaborative robot ad they enhance the safety features in the manufacturing plant.

When you want to set up a collaborative robot, you need to have advanced knowledge of the available software functions for the robot. You need to take time to understand whether the software available required any coding from the collaborative robots experts. Usually, coding will be needed if the software is a proprietary system. It is also possible that the robot software can be open source ROS-Industrial system or both combined.

Here are functions that can be used to enhance collaborative robots.

The safety plane function

Safety planes are used and designed for the ability to give the collaborative robot a safe area to run at normal speed. When the robot passes through a pre-set safety plane, its reduced speed mode is activated. This software feature is ideal for robots with areas that it is required to reduce its speed and motion like an area where the robot is working alongside a human operator. It is possible to use this feature to have areas where the robot can operate on normal speed and areas where reduced speed is required.

It is also possible to configure these areas to allow them to be triggered by external safety components such as laser scanners and light sensors. This ensures that the collaborative robot can recognize when a signal is triggered and that a safety zone is in operation. This causes the robot to automatically reduce its speed.

Grippers controlling widgets

It is possible to control collaborative robots grippers using commands that are predefined such as Modbus RTU commands. However, other commands such as TCP/IP, DeviceNet, EtherNet/IP, CANopen, and EtherCAT can also be used.

To be able to ease and help the load on programming, it is possible to install widgets that come with predefined template programs. These can control the grippers easily which is included in the collaborative robot’s program. It included the speed control, force control and the opening-closing range for the gripper.

The Euromap 67 interface

A collaborative robot is made use of for many different applications in a manufacturing plant. The most common applications include pick and place, machine tending, process handling as well as injection molding. To be able to make use of a collaborative robot for these applications, you need to create an interface. This way, the cobot only goes inside the machine when the machine is in idle mode. The interface is also responsible for ensuring the machine does not start until the collaborative robot is outside the machine after picking and placing items or parts. The Euromap 67 interface is a standard globally recognized interface. Its design helps to very quickly plug in and also interconnect the cobot and the supplication it is programmed to run.

Benefits of this interface include quick signal changing abilities, emergency stop signal interconnection, and its speed in creating programs that interface with the application.

Force mode

Most collaborative robots come with inbuilt force modes. This enables it to measure force in ranges like:

  • Force precision ± 10 N
  • Position precision ± 5 mm
  • Torque precision ± 5 Nm
  • Orientation precision ± 0.5-deg.

Force mode can be made use of in applications that require a certain force to apply to the collaborative robots end effector. For instance, for a polishing application, it is required for a set force pressure to be maintained for the polishing tool on the object being polished.

Socket and script programming

It is possible for the user to program a collaborative robot easily using the fast GUI (graphical user interface). However, in case the robot cells and task need handling of certain tasks that require external components, it is possible to create a program for the same.  This may be necessary for complex applications or advanced users.

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