Automation technology has evolved to a stage where numerousother technologies have emerged from it and have achieved a status of theirown. Robotic automation is one such technology which has been recognized as aspecialized field of automation where the automated machines have some humanlike properties. The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) defines an industrialrobotic manipulator as follows: “An industrial robot is a reprogrammable, multifunctionalmanipulator designed to move materials, parts, tools, or specialized devicesthrough variable programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks.”Industrial robots are employed to automate a wide range ofindustrial processes which are generally too dull, dangerous or dirty for humanoperators. Moreover, advance robotic manipulators have enabled us to achievenew levels of precision, accuracy, repeatability and productivity which are ofprime importance in many modern engineering applications.
Robotic automation ismostly used in the following industrial applications: · Assembly· Machine Tending· Welding· Material Removal· Material Handling· Palletization and De-Palletizing· Vision InspectionIt can be inferred, from the above definition, that arobotic manipulator enables precise motion along a pre-defined trajectory. Buta complete robotic automation solution involves much more than just achievingdesired movements. Each application has its own special need, leading to acomplicated design, simulation and configuration process, which makes roboticintegration very cumbersome and time consuming. Selecting the right robotic arm, peripheral equipment and end-effectorhas critical importance. Material handling in a press line, for example,requires highly customized end-of-arm tooling with suitable end-effectors, withor without special functions, to perform the desired task.
Additional functionslike automatic tool changing, required for higher flexibility, make the integrationprocess more complex. With new applications emerging every year, it becomesvery important to develop standardized methodologies for designing, configuringand integrating robots in order to keep project cost and time under control. The following section describes the motivation and objectivesof this thesis project.