Robot tools, or in more general terms, end‐of‐arm tools, or robot end‐effectors are general purpose, programmable or task‐oriented devices connected between the robot wrist and the object or load to be manipulated and/or processed by the robot. They can offer and/or limit the versatility of grasping and/or processing of different components, sensing their characteristics and working together with the robot control system to provide a reliable “service” throughout the component manipulation cycle. Reconfigurable robot tooling enables the robot to rapidly change its end‐effectors or fingers of its end‐effectors, typically under programmable software control. The importance of providing lean‐flexibility by means of reconfigurable, automated robot hand changers (ARHC), particularly in small‐batch robotic welding, assembly, machine loading and in other flexible robot cells, is discussed with examples. Some known systems are demonstrated and the “Ranky‐type” ARHC design is illustrated in more detail.
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