Teaching robots is a time-consuming and laborious task, especially when you’re manually teaching robots. Particularly with robots of niche applications, use cases, and robots with complex movements or robots within specific environments like industries and production. Robotic technology is continuously evolving, and so is its complexity. However, robotic tech is also becoming easier to use, more accessible, and more adaptable with increasing complexity. Conversely, teaching robots through traditional approaches like Teach Pendants is getting more and more challenging and complex.
The Robotics industry is complex because of the sheer complexity of the technology and the cost of developing, building, and deploying a robot. Robot research and development and deploying robots are challenging tasks because of the sensitive nature of testing in robotics. Testing a robot is an expensive task. Consuming massive resources and time, testing robots along with training them is a very resource-intensive task.
However, due to the advancement of technology and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR) inching closer and closer, industries are rushing towards digital technology and automation, which, in some scenarios like industries and production only possible with robots. Consequently, the importance of robotics in the production industry is increasing day by day. As a result, manufacturers and production sites are getting more eager to adopt their production line with robots with digital technology at its core. And manually teaching robots would only slow the production down and eventually leave you behind in the competition.
The Complexity in Robotics
With robotics comes its complexity. A robot is not a single entity but an integration of several different parts, components, and systems working together. These parts, components, and systems are usually various mechanical parts, motors, actuators, hydraulics, sensors, processing systems, networking interfaces, and many more. These components are very hard to build and even complex to perfect. Furthermore, integrating these parts to work together simultaneously with efficient cohesion to achieve a system that can perform specific tasks is complex on another level.
The integration may well be complete and the robot ready. But another major hurdle comes in the form of programming/coding the robot. Programming a simple robot with a particular function may be easy, but the robots that have to perform complex tasks while performing complex movements with precision are strenuous. This difficulty only scales up for industrial robots that have to accomplish tasks with accuracy and repeatability and perform various activities and functions within the production environment.
Why Manually Teaching Robots Will Hold You Back?
Programming a complex robot also requires a complex teaching process. The traditional approach to programming and coding robots is to use teaching pendants. Teaching pendants are a device that helps robot operators to control and program an industrial robot remotely. For example, these devices can code or teach a robot to follow a specific path or perform certain actions in a particular manner. With teaching pendants, robot operators or developers have to teach these robots manually.
Manual robot teaching may be easier on robots with low movement paths, simple actions, or singular axes. But industrial robots are a whole another story. They need to be constantly working in a usually adaptive and harsh environment of production. Such robots are complex and also very sensitive. Hence training the robots with teaching pendants is a difficult task. It is a very time-consuming task with the requirement of the teaching personnel to be present at all times. Furthermore, the robots have to be in teaching mode during all this time which means they cannot perform other tasks. Add this to the fact operators have to take them out of production during this long teaching process. All this makes manual teaching very cumbersome.
The downtime while teaching the robots is a massive issue to production. Moreover, this downtime is not only a one-time thing. Since industries have to be at the top of their game to thrive, they need to evolve and adapt over time. New changes and upgrades are necessary. Maintenance and repair works are inevitable. And even the failure of robots is not a common thing. All this requires teaching pendants, which is again very slow and a tedious approach to programming robots. It will add more delays, difficulties, costs and consume more resources. And this is a massive bottleneck for production.
Instead of wasting time in this slow and cumbersome manual approach, using new and better solutions with automation at its core is the way to go.
Learn About Offline Robot Programming
Offline Robot Programming is an “offline” approach to robot programming. Offline Programming (OLP) is a software solution to manually robot teaching by replacing the teaching pendants with simulation software. This “offline” solution teaches the robots virtually through software remotely. Thus, OLP takes leading away from the manual approach and takes out the requirement to remove the robots from production.
Although Offline Robot Programming is not a new technology, its evolution in recent years puts it in the spotlight in robot programming and the whole paradigm of robotics. It’s because of the advantages and benefits of using offline robot programming. Offline robot programming replaces the teach pendants with a more elegant solution. Furthermore, OLP allows for industries to train robots and their programming/coding through software updates. Robotic Programming Platforms also offer different software solutions to generate these instructions.
It means there is no need for the actual physical robot to be present in any generation phase or testing the training program/code. Instead, all this happens within the simulation technology inside the robotic programming platform itself. The evolution of simulation technology is so far ahead that it can now accurately simulate almost any object or environment with all the characteristics and behaviors of the original real-world object or environment.
Simulation technologies today can simulate every robot’s functionalities, features, and operations. Various behavior, states, and phenomena of robots and their components can simulate without manually teaching robots. Simulations can accurately simulate the mechanical elements of different parts with different materials and their operation in different environments and conditions. Along with this, fluid dynamics for air and water is also possible to simulate. Collisions, movements, etc., are also potential. It is due to the ability of simulations to accurately simulate and imitate the real-life physics of materials and the environment.
In addition to this, simulations can also imitate electronic components and processes. For example, it can accurately simulate the processing of CPUs and progressing units or even network interfaces and data exchange. Along with this, simulations can even test technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Machine Learning (ML) and deep learning. All these possibilities allow simulations to simulate all behavior, state, and properties of a robot along with its features and functionalities effectively.
Robotic simulation software solutions are already available, and different industries and companies are already leveraging their benefits. These simulations make innovative technologies like OLP possible to exist and thrive, creating manually teaching robots irrelevant. With offline robot programming, companies need not go back to the old approach of using teaching pendants. Such an old approach is very time-consuming while also requiring enormous resources, workforce, and investment. In contrast, OLP provides companies with elegant future-proof solutions that are effective and efficient.
OLP successfully reduces downtimes from production due to its ability to upload programming instructions in robots that they are working on without taking them out of the output. They can also enable new roads to generation and testing robot programs far from the manual testing method and age of robot codes or instructions. Simulations make it very easy to try these codes, while AI automation enables self-diagnosis and real-time optimization of production lines.
OLP is often seen as a technology that is very complex and requires high skills to utilize. There is a huge misconception that only the sides with deep pockets can afford to use OLP solutions, and there won’t be any demand for manually teaching robots anymore. But that is not the case. OLP solutions are pleasing on paper and easy to integrate and adapt even in existing production. Companies like FS Studio are working hard to bring out innovative solutions and state-of-the-art R&D technologies, including robotic OLPs, to make this transition of using OLP solutions smoother. With decades of experience and collective knowledge of various skillful people, FS Studio brings out solutions like Robotic Simulation Services for multiple companies and industries.
With the increasing pace of the industry’s move towards Industry 4.0, every industry is eagerly shifting towards digital technology while replacing old technologies like Teach Pendants with newer, more elegant, and efficient solutions like Offline Robot Programming platforms. Offline robot programming opens the road to newer possibilities and opportunities, enabling rapid prototyping, testing, training, and superior research and development, saving you from manually teaching your robots. In addition, it will help companies bring out efficient production and help them maximize their efficiency with a proven feat of achieving higher Return of Investment (ROI) in production lines and product innovation. Furthermore, this will help industries and companies innovate and remain at the top of their game to surpass and outperform their competitors.