Here’s everything about grippers for collaborative robots
Collaborative robots are preferred over regular industrial robots as these are easier to integrate and require less programming. These robots are safe to use in environments with humans and can be simply moved around anywhere in the plant. Collaborative robots or cobots are robotic arms that can be used within a collaborative application. It can be force limited to perform even non-collaborative applications. When there is no operator in the workspace or collaboration with the robot, then it is a non-collaborative application.
The actual difference between these is based on how it is integrated, programmed and assessed. A collaborative robot cell has various operation modes based on whether works are present around it or not. In a robot cell, the arm is often the first component that has to be selected. Once the robot arm is chosen, grippers are used to pick up as well as handle objects. These grippers for cobots are a robotic device placed on the robot arm. These should be treated as a part of the collaborative cell and play an essential role in terms of safety.
Grippers used by collaborative robot manufacturers should ensure safety
Grippers for collaborative robots should enhance the safety, ease of use and flexibility and not create disadvantages. If it is implemented in the wrong way, then it will become a limiting factor preventing the robot cell from being collaborative. While choosing a gripper for collaborative applications, you should keep a lot of factors in mind. The gripper should be assessed both as a standalone component and as a part of the entire application. Make sure that you are specific with the collaborative robot manufacturers about not to include grippers with pinch points and sharp edges. Always, smooth edges are safer than sharp ones as these reduce the chances of injury.
Assess the object that has to be picked up using the gripper to know if it has any sharp edges or pinch points as well. If it has, then you should consider it while designing the robot cell. Even the temperature of the part should be considered while ensuring there are no risks. If the object that should be picked has a high temperature, then the gripper for collaborative robots should be capable of withstanding the heat without creating a risk for the operators.
The other safety aspect is the potential loss of power supplied to the gripper. Usually, grippers are of various types such as electrical, mechanical, pneumatic and hydraulic. Irrespective of the type, the power supply loss or drop should be manageable. It should not result in a sudden stop in the functioning of the part. Notably, a sudden failure will result in the risk of the park being ejected at the wrong time.
How to choose a gripper from collaborative robot manufacturers
When choosing a gripper for collaborative robots, many specifications and factors have to be considered. These are,
- Gripping strategy
- Task performed
- Grip types
- Fingers and fingertips
- Robot cell flexibility
- Power supply
Besides these factors, you should also focus on the ease of integration of the gripper to the collaborative robots. You should know if the gripper can be connected as well as connected easily, will it need analog or digital inputs and outputs, etc. Notably, communication is a significant factor that determines its ease of integration. Check when the potential grippers have any software development kits or packages for select robot controllers as it can save a lot of your time.
Multiple grippers for collaborative robots are also used
In some cases, you might have to reduce the cycle time to a great extent. In that case, some people use robot arms with support for two or more grippers. These are common in machine tending applications that have a short cycle time. With multiple grippers, one gripper can be used to pick up a blank part that has to be machined while the other gripper picks the machined part. Collaborative robot manufacturers ensure that there are benefits such as increased productivity and reduced cycle times with multiple grippers. But when you choose to implement multiple grippers for collaborative robots, then you have more factors to consider.