FAQ about robots
Q-1: Why are industrial robots so important for the printing industry?
A: The printing industry uses a lot of different machines through the production chain, and at the majority of these machines, the material has to be lifted from pallets and to the machines and back again by the operators. Most of these handling activities can be robotized, removing repetitive, heavy and exhausting jobs from the operators, so they can focus on the activities, where their human skills are used most efficiently.
The operator’s lifting capacity sets the limit for the machine’s production capacity, and as the operator will get tired during the day, his – and the machine’s – production capacity will be reduced over the day. Using robots for the heavy lifts relief the operator from the unhealthy, heavy and repetitive working activities and makes it possible to use the machine’s capacity to its utmost around the clock.
Q-2: What is a humanoid robot?
A humanoid robot can perform jobs that are done by human beings, and which cannot be performed by conventional robots. Humanoid robots have generally started to appear within the service sectors. A humanoid robot could typically be able feed elder or disabled persons, or it could be able to wash dishes. Another type of humanoid robot in the service sector could be able to vacuum clean or be able to collect something in the fridge. These humanoid robots are then also mobile robots. Humanoid robots exist as prototypes many places, but very few are in use in real environments.
Q-3: What is a humanoid industrial robot?
Humanoid industrial robots are a new segment within industrial robots. They are capable of performing humanoid-like activities in an industrial environment. In our case it is airing and separating sheets in the printing industry, which only can be done properly by a normal human being. Thus the robot requires a minimum of two arms. Yaskawa Electric Corporation is at present (2014) the world’s leading manufacturer of 2-arm humanoid industrial robots with their series Motoman SDA 5, 10 and 20.
Humanoid robots require a very sophisticated computer to be able to handle at least two separate robot arms. Humanoid industrial robots have on top of this the requirement to be stable, robust and able to work in tough industrial environments. Industrial humanoid robots are thus very different from the experimental humanoid robots in the service sector.
Q-4: Why are Motoman’s dual-arm, humanoid industrial robots so advantageous for the printing industry?
Substrates like paper, board and plastics are “flexible substrates” which are difficult, if not impossible for conventional robots to handle. This makes dual-arm industrial humanoid robots the only robot types that can handle such products.
Q-5: What is a robot?
We all think, we know what a robot is, but it is difficult to explain. The official ISO description of a robot is:
“An automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose, manipulator programmable in three or more axis, which may be either fixed in a place or mobile for use in industrial automation applications”
A robot is a helper or agent, which contains of:
a) A manipulator, which can perform a range of mechanical activities and movements
b) A “brain” (a computer), which makes it possible to program and store various tasks, which the manipulator then can be asked to perform. A robot is excellent for repeatable, dirty, heavy and boring jobs.
Q-6: What is a co-worker robot?
The basic assumption is that humans and robots under no circumstances must be in the same working area, while to robots move. This makes it impossible for a robot and a human being to work closely together on the same job.
A co-worker robot has a limited lifting capacity and a highly sophisticated safety system, which allows it work in the same area as a human being. So while the human being holds the bolt, the robot handles the nut.
Q-7: What is a co-worker robot-cell?
A co-worker robot-cell is a production unit, which cannot function without an operator or supervisor. But the robot and the operator works in separated areas. This allows the use of much stronger robots in the co-worker cell.
Q-8: What is a mobile robot?
The definition is not totally clear yet. An AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle) is per definition a mobile robot, as it can move its transported goods in at least three directions, while it, at the same time is programmable. Mobile robots are basically small service robots, which can move from one place to another and perform specific tasks. Bigger industrial robots are still not able to move from one place to another and perform different jobs.
Bigger industrial robots can, however, be used in connection with different docking stations. This makes it possible to move the robot from one place to another, but it cannot move by own force, and it must be positioned absolutely accurately, so the robot always knows it homing position.
Q-9: What does the name robot mean?
In the Czech language “robota” means “work”. The story goes, that the Czech author Karel Capek in 1920 decided to write a science fiction play about a factory, which would manufacture a kind of “artificial workers”. As a word for artificial workers did not exist, the author’s brother suggested labeling them “roboti”. The play (R.U.R – Rossums Universal Robots) was an instant success and appeared later as a Hollywood movie (it will reappear as the movie R.U.R in 2011), and the name “robot” soon became a household word. In today’s vocabulary Capek’s artificial workers are probably closer to “androids” or “clones” but this cannot change the fact that “robots” were born.
Q-10: How many axes does a robot have?
The definition states that a real robot must have at least 3 axes. Many robots have today 5, 6 or 7 axis, and Motoman’s 2-arm robots have two integrated 7-axis robot arms on a central robot head, giving this robot a total of 15 axes.
More axes increase the robot’s flexibility an ability to perform complex activities, but it also makes the programming more demanding.
Q-11: Is a robot intelligent?
A modern robot contains of a mechanical manipulator and a computer. The explosion in computer technology has made robots capable of performing numerous activities they could not perform a few years ago, and the continuous development in computer technology will make robots capable of performing many more activities in the future. Whether a robot is intelligent depends on the definition of “artificial intelligence”. There is no official definition of artificial intelligence, but a robot cannot do anything that it is not programmed to do, Thus our opinion is that a robot is not intelligent, but rather capable of performing various jobs it has been instructed to do. A robot is therefore very clever, but not creative.
Q-12: Does the military use robots?
As any other big organization the military uses robots for a wide range of tasks. In recent years a new breed of mobile robots for military tasks, such as bomb dismantling, mine-sweeping and transportation of heavy goods, are starting to appear.
Q-13: When was the first robot developed?
The famous Leonardo da Vinci made some of the first drawings for a real robot. Nobody knows if his robot was ever produced, and there is no trace of a da Vinci robot today. Ultimate was the first modern robot for manufacturing purposes. It was installed at General Motor’s factory in Trenton in New Jersey in 1960. The first palletizing robot was installed in Japan in 1963, and the first computer controlled 6-axis robot was introduced in 1973. With the introduction of the IBM PC in 1981 the world of robots leapfrogged forward.
Q-14: How many industrial robots are installed worldwide?
In 2014 the total number of industrial robots is in the area of 1.5 million.
Q-15: How many industrial robots are sold per year worldwide?
The figure is constantly increasing with 5-10% per year. In 2013 around 170,000 industrial robots were sold around the world.