12 Things to Consider When Exploring Offline Robot Programming Software Solutions

Robotics technology is continuously changing and evolving. With the development of simulation technology, the current industry is rapidly moving towards digital solutions together. With industries on the verge of shifting towards Industry 4.0, digital technologies, simulation technology, AI, AR, and VR will be the most critical pivot points. Robotic technology in industries and manufacturing processes provides vast benefits and advantages. Robot integration in production, manufacturing and other industries gives them cost savings, lower time, and efficient resource usage. Together, it all can help us to explore offline robot programming software solutions.

The traditional robotic training, testing, and operations method pales in comparison to the influx of modern demand and supply. Consequently, various industries are looking to make their supply chain from production to distribution more efficient and cost-effective. So naturally, robots are the ultimate answer for automation and efficient completion of a process with precision.

Along with the advancement of technology, industries across different fields are now looking to integrate their operations with robotic technology. However, robotic development is not an easy feat. Due to the sheer complexity of robot development and research, some industries are hesitant to adopt robotic technology. Nevertheless, the cost-benefit analysis of the development and use of robotics is simply too lucrative to ignore.

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However, with the traditional methods of robot development, testing, and training, various industries cannot move towards it. Furthermore, it brought several misconceptions in the industry that robotic programming is too complicated and too resource-heavy to use. With these misconceptions, the industry was hesitant to take on the challenge. Even though offline robot programming has come a long way from its inception, misconceptions still linger around the industry with false beliefs. Words go around that it cannot handle all the variables present in real-world development or complicate things compared to the traditional approach.

Robot Offline Programming is an “offline” approach to programming that takes the robot programming away from the traditional pendant/robot cell and physical robots in production. Instead, Offline Robot Programming allows users to generate robotic instructions or code from their computers and different software solutions instead of using a robot on or taking it out of production.

Offline Robot Programming

The idea is simple; remove the traditional method of generating robotic instructions and code, i.e., using teach pendants and replace them with computer software or simulation software. It was necessary because the conventional process of using teach pendants or robot cells for robotic programming code was too inefficient and time-consuming. Pair this with the fact that it constrains profitability and business growth. It then becomes a throne in the process of robotic research and development.

Teach Pendants are devices that robot developers/operators use to control an industrial robot remotely. Teach pendants to allow users to manage and work with robots without connecting the device with a terminal but instead works wirelessly, i.e., no tethering to a fixed terminal.  Technicians use these devices to test a robot either for programming, i.e., robotic coding or repair, or for performing some maintenance. Due to this, teaching pendants are a crucial part of industrial robotic operations.

However, using pendants is time-consuming. It's prolonged and even resource-consuming. Hence, the replacement of these traditional devices with offline robot programming software is necessary. It will allow users to operate robots either for testing or repair or maintenance or even robotic code generation with much efficiency and simplicity. Furthermore, it enables robot developers to perform all these actions through their computers without even taking out the robot from production or if it is not fully ready to be operational. Thus, it radically maximizes productivity and even reduces cycle time and downtime of the production.

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Offline Programming or OLP solutions are therefore sought after by industries looking to utilize robotic solutions. Due to the advancement of simulation technology and offline programming software, it's becoming faster, more reliable, and more efficient to use OLP solutions than the traditional approach. Simulations and offline programming may differ because simulations exist without offline programming, but offline programming cannot live without simulations. Although this might make simulation and OLP seem different, they go hand in hand and sometimes are used interchangeably.

Robotic OLP can exist because of robotic simulation technology, which is currently one of the most frequent use cases of simulation technology in industries. With simulations enabling 3D representation of a robot, i.e., its digital twin,  it can also represent and reproduce robotic functions, movements, behaviors, and operations in different conditions and environments. Thus, It essentially enables Robotic OLP to exist.

Although simulations make it easy to generate any environment for any use case, knowing these requirements beforehand is necessary to see the type of service one requires regarding OLP solutions. Along with this, there are some other things one needs to consider when exploring Robotic OLP.

Some of the things to consider when exploring Offline Robot Programming Software solutions are given below:

Offline Robot Programming is a technology that enables rapid programming with efficient processes and even automation in the mix. It is advantageous and beneficial to perform robotic coding for robots with complex structures, numerous moving parts, and axes or programming complex paths. These complex programming tasks generally take a massive amount of time, resources, and hard labor with teaching pendants, while it's straightforward, efficient, and swift with OLP.

  1. OLP and Simulation technology go hand in hand. Only through the utilization of robotic simulation software can Offline Robot Programming exist. A robotic OLP is a robotic simulation software with features and functions that tests and evaluates robots in different conditions and environments of different needs and requirements around a production environment.
  2. OLP can efficiently train, test, and evaluate robots. Hence training technicians or users for OLP is relatively straightforward. It is also very advantageous since after learning an OLP solution, it becomes easier to understand others.
  3. Robot Offline Programming Software solutions increase the user’s productivity and the profitability of the industry/business using it. It also has a greater return on investment (ROI) relative to traditional approaches.
  4. OLP is very useful for potential projects ideas in their quotation phase to prove their profitability and efficacy.
  5. OLP is very efficient in tracking down any errors or faults, and potential problems in a robot before uploading programs or the robots are in operation.
  6. Due to the nature of OLP, i.e., allowing users to program robots remotely without the need of the actual robot, it opens new possibilities for existing robot operations. Operations such as in high-mix and low-volume can explore more opportunities.
  7. Some industries like aviation, automotive, nuclear, and space need OLP as requirements due to the nature of these industries. OLP provides massive benefits to these industries where on-site robot programming is improbable and sometimes even impossible.
  8. OLP allows for testing in simulations through the use of various engineering tools and utilities available. Hence, it will enable testing a solution or modification thoroughly before making any actual physical modifications. 
  9. Robotic Offline Programming is now industry standard with an image of a superior software tool allowing for better returns and efficient solutions. In addition, it will enable industries to use OLP to attract high-quality staff and employees with a high chance of retaining them longer.
  10. Due to the nature of OLP being a software tool, configurations for machines can be saved and reused on different devices instead of starting from scratch. It is a huge plus for some manufacturers/companies who have to configure large amounts of robots. Instead of having to program each robot from the start, OLP is very useful since edits and re-configuration of programs for each robot are possible.
  11. The use of OLP also attracts other prospects like Robotic Simulation Softwares for the design, research, and development of robots. It is a very efficient and beneficial solution that allows for rapid growth, testing, and prototyping of robots at lower costs, less resource usage, and better efficiency.
  12. Offline robot programming is a huge win when put in comparison with traditional ways of robotic programming. Allowing for a far quicker robot deployment or installation, OLP allows for rapid testing, fine-tuning, and programming a robot in a virtual environment in just days when the traditional method may even take weeks.
Offline Robot Programming

Furthermore, with virtual environments to teach the robot, downtimes are no longer present when teaching the robot a new programming or operation path. OLP can even upload new programming in the robots when in a live production environment or when it is operating. Apart from these, safety, quicker cycle times between teaching the robots, or a straightforward approach to test a new configuration, all are easier to perform through OLP.

Various companies like FS Studio provide OLP solutions to make it easier for companies/industries/manufacturers to adopt OLP solutions in their existing production environment. FS Studio provides Robotic Simulation Solutions crucial for OLP solutions with a decade of collective knowledge, experience, and skills in store. It helps the production team to focus on the actual product rather than shift their resources in offline robot programming implementation and adaptation. Nevertheless, OLP is a technological innovation that will help productions reach new levels of innovation with more possibilities and opportunities to explore.

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