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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2001, MCB UP Limited
Keywords: ABB flexible automation, Robots, Paint application
During the course of the last decade, robots of one description or another have become a standard feature of almost every manufacturing shop floor. Having proved their worth in the automotive industry during the 1980s and with applications as diverse as food packaging to golf ball painting, it's no wonder the appeal of the robot is so wide-ranging.
Stable price levels coupled with increasing levels of sophistication have conspired to make the use of robots within paint finishing systems as cost effective as ever. Consistent performance together with high throughput and low costs are the fundamental benefits at the heart of the painting robot's popularity. ABB Flexible Automation consider that they have answered the growing demand for robots within automated painting systems, by developing a range of state-of-the-art machines which offer significant benefits over their manual predecessors.
Specific advantages claimed include the robot's ability to repeat ergonomically difficult tasks, to perform multiple tasks after programming and reprogramming and to work continuously at high speed. Painting robots are also thought to be ideally suited for use in environments unsafe for humans, perhaps owing to unacceptable noise levels or the prevalence of carcinogenic fumes. The specialised safety clothing required by humans working in such areas can often prove such an encumbrance as to inhibit movement and thus hinder the worker's performance. Training, safety equipment and administrative costs associated with manual painters can all be minimised through an increased emphasis on the use of robots.
Although robot painters require initial programming, ABB's range of models are said to operate on user friendly systems which prove increasingly accessible to today's operators who have higher standards of computer literacy than ever before. Familiar systems such as Microsoft Windows are now used for path programming and trouble shooting and require a relatively short training period resulting in a quicker start-up. Paths can be taught off-line on a PC in conjunction with CAD-generated part models, further reducing the robot's installation downtime. This reportedly proves particularly useful with large products that may be physically difficult to program and during product changeovers as a way of avoiding interruption.
The superior strength claimed of ABB's robots allows the carrying of colour changing valves in close proximity to the applicator. This in turn is said to reduces the crucial distance between valves and spray gun, accelerating the switching process between paints at the gun and applicator, leading to a reduction in cycle times and increased productivity.
Robot painters are proving increasingly invaluable in a wide range of applications requiring a high turnover of well finished products. Production consistency and reduced training needs, coupled with minimal wastage and a healthier working environment, contribute to the user's profitability and help to explain the increasing popularity of robots in the competitive arena of the paint finishing system.
Details available from: ABB Flexible Automation Ltd. Tel: +44 (0) 1908 350300; Fax: +44 (0) 1908 350301; e-mail: email@example.com