The advent of next-generation technologies like Simulations, AR, VR, and AI continues to grow rapidly. With continuous evolution in their advancement and increasing accessibility, they can exponentially add value to manufacturers. Hence, influencing industries across the globe to adopt these technologies at an increasing rate. For example, artificial intelligence with immersive technologies like AR and VR swiftly transforms manufacturing processes and product development. But, on the other hand, robotic technology redefines the possibilities and opportunities in various fields and industries.
The increasing sophistication of robotic technology is visible due to giant leaps in the capabilities of current robotic systems. With technology evolving swiftly, the industry is also adopting newer technologies in its manufacturing and product development processes. One of these newer technologies the industry is moving towards is simulation technology.
With the dawn of Industry 4.0 upon us, industries undoubtedly need to advance towards digital transformation. In this advancement, simulation technology is a boon for manufacturers. Although simulation technology is not new due to its rapid evolution in recent years, it is expanding its horizon of possibilities and opportunities. Robotic technology is one of the unknown frontiers of simulation tech.
Simulation software has the power to enable rapid prototyping, testing, and development of product development processes and R&D technology. Computer simulation is one of the vital tools for industries like robotic development and manufacturing. With the crucial role of robots in the manufacturing industry, the development and advancement of robotic technology are significant for the whole manufacturing industry.
Why Simulation Softwares in Robot Development?
Robot research and development, along with its design and production, is very complex. It is not just because of the sophistication of the technologies in a robot. But also because of economic reasons and risks in robotic development. They also have to add value to the manufacturers as well.
Robots are usually expensive pieces of machinery. Industrial and manufacturing robots are costly due to the niche application following the niche research and development requirement. Moreover, even general robot design and development require massive resources, cost, time, and multidisciplinary skills. Furthermore, prototyping robots for testing, evaluation, and assessment need equally, if not more, resources, time, cost, and abilities. Add this with risks present in the real world, and robotic development truly becomes a huge undertaking.
Computer simulations for robotic development can solve all these problems. Computer simulations offer efficient and elegant solutions that are more cost-effective and less time-consuming. Any computer simulation software usually provides a 3D digital space to test and develop a product. Similarly, robot simulation software offers different environments and tools in a digital 3D area to test, run, research, evaluate and develop a robot.
Real robots in the real world consist of parts like motors, batteries, joints, arms, sensors, actuators, controllers, and other mechanical parts. Furthermore, robots also consist of networking, processing, and data handling components to analyze data and communicate. Apart from this, some robots also need to be smart and capable of making various decisions in real-time to add value to manufacturers. Consequently, due to these causes, robots in the real world are very complex and expensive.
However, robotic simulation software provides all these tools, components, and parts in its digital space. Due to the high advancement of simulation software, today, simulation software can simulate all these parts and subsequently a fully functional robot that can run/operate in different conditions and environments. One just has to bring these parts and models together digitally. The simulation software also supports the design and development of these parts and models digitally. Hence, developing or putting together a robot in a simulation environment is very quickly relative to the real world.
Moreover, just like in the real world, robotic simulation software also allows for the testing and evaluation robots in different environments and conditions. Simulation software can simulate fluid and air dynamics, collisions, and many more physical, real-world phenomena with very accurate and modern physics that reflect real-world physics. All this happens similarly to the real world, except the simulations are fast and easy to develop and do not have to suffer huge risks and significant economic setbacks.
With computer simulations on hand, the risks and costs in association with robot development become redundant. It also ensures that the developers do not exhaust their time worrying about resources and cost but instead focus on the actual robot development. It also provides the developers with flexibility and space to develop the best robot for their requirements without compromising developmental risks and costs.
How they Add Value to Manufacturers
With the vast advantages of using simulation software in robotic research and development, manufacturers are beginning to realize the potential it carries. Furthermore, minimizing risk in robot development in manufacturing and factories also means developing robots with better design that suits the requirements to a far greater degree. As a result, companies or factories using robots in various product manufacturing processes can undoubtedly reap the benefits of better and cost-effective robotic solutions, which is possible due to robotic simulation software.
Proper simulation software can ensure the best systems for different applications and use cases. With rapid design and development in the card, even if a system is not up to the mark, companies can simply re-design it in the digital form with much lower costs and resources. In addition, with computing systems becoming cheaper and efficient, simulations can now help manufacturers build their robotic solutions to stay competitive in the market with new and better solutions.
There are numerous ways the robotic simulation software can add value to manufacturers, for example, cohesion with better designs, processes, and efficient investment.
With manufacturers expanding their product spectra to a wide range, robotic systems in use are not always general robots but tailored with specific needs and requirements in play. For instance, a car manufacturing company cannot automate the assembly line process without the same robots. Development of robots enters completion with niche use cases in mind. One robot installs engines while another robot paints the car; another robot detects flaws in the painting. Another installs wheels, another lifts machines before installation, and so on. Each different use case requires another robot.
Hence in this scenario, designing different robots for different use cases in the real world is very expensive as well as being time and resources consuming. However, creating robots for other use cases is much simpler, more accessible, faster, and cost-effective through simulation software. Consequently, robotic simulation software can also help manufacturers to customize and fine-tune robots according to their needs. Moreover, such systems can undergo design and development to seamlessly fit into their existing facilities and systems quickly relative to traditional methods.
Automation also becomes much simpler with the capability of simulation software to test automation and smart technologies in a full-blown manner even before the final design is ready. Furthermore, simulation consisting of accurate and minute details add value to manufacturers, helping them configure their automation system so that the resultant robotic systems can meet their goals. However, manufacturers usually have to take significant risks for proof of design and automation process verification without simulation systems.
Due to all these advantages, simulation systems can return great results on the manufacturer’s investment. Furthermore, simulation software capable of self-diagnosis and automatic error reporting ensures that the finished designs and products are free of errors and potential flaws. It also ensures that the robotic simulation systems function with precision with known efficiencies in different environments and conditions. Thus, it helps manufacturers get maximum returns on their investment.
Moreover, the investment also becomes largely more safe and secure relative to the investment in traditional approaches. Furthermore, with the successful design and development of robots or systems meeting all requirements and needs beforehand, manufacturers can ensure further lucrative benefits and returns. Eventually, the end goal of manufacturers is to get returns from the end product. It largely depends upon the manufacturing process, which depends on the systems and procedures, including robotic systems used for manufacturing.
Hence, ultimately a successful result is a massive win for manufacturers. Robotic simulation software ensures that this result is successful and that the manufacturers get there with much lower costs, resources, time, and skills.
Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR) is all about the digital transformation of enterprises. With Industry 4.0 approaching more closely than ever before, industries and manufacturers must keep up with advancements in technologies like simulation and artificial intelligence, AR, and VR. While it may seem that the transition to digital technology and simulations for product innovation, R&D, and robotic development is complex, the result in-store has enormous benefits with lucrative returns.
Hence, companies like FS Studio are working hard in these innovative technologies to ensure that manufacturers can experience a smooth transition to Industry 4.0. For example, ZeroSim, a technology in development and service by FS Studio, is a robotic simulation software technology built on Unity3D, a game engine, and ROS (Robotics Operating System). It provides a multitude of tools for building robots and simulation environments in Unity to interface with ROS.
Technologies like these add value to manufacturers, making robotic simulations faster, easier, and hassle-free to use for manufacturers. It also ensures that manufacturers can easily leverage the lofty benefits of robotic simulation software to transition themselves towards the next industrial revolution.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.