Dual-end effectors on collaborative robots can reduce cycle time

Dual-end effectors for collaborative robots can improve a company's cycle time and improve overall efficiency by removing some of the variability that comes from a human operator.
By Josh Westmoreland, Cross Company January 25, 2018

Courtesy: Cross CompanyIncorporating a robot into production can provide many benefits for a company including reduced costs, improved quality, fewer safety concerns, and increased throughput. Throughput can be increased in two different ways. With a robot, the company doesn’t rely on the operator to drive the work rate of the cell. A robot runs at the same pace day in and day out. This eliminates the variability that sometimes exists with human operators. Also, the cycle time can be shortened, but this could bring up some potential challenges.

The two-hand advantage

The advantage a human operator has in a machine tending environment is they have two arms to maneuver into tight locations. A human can remove a part from the machine with one hand and place the next part into the machine with the other without leaving the work area.

With a typical robot solution, the robot would have to go into the machine to unload the finished part, exit the machine to drop the part on either a staging location or the outgoing drop location, pick up a new part, enter the machine, and drop the unfinished part into the machine. Carrying out the process in this way could potentially lead to an increase in cycle time. The most effective way to remedy this is with a dual-end effector.

Courtesy: Bob Vavra, CFE MediaDual-end effectors and collaborative robots

A dual end effector allows the robot to carry out the process as a human would. Using "Gripper A," the robot could remove the finished part from the machine, rotate, and use "Gripper B" to place an unfinished part into the machine. When the robot exits the machine, the machine could begin operation. While the machine is working, the robot would drop off the finished part, pick up another unfinished part, and be waiting at the door for the machine cycle to complete and the process could repeat again and again. In this configuration, gripper fingers could be designed specifically for both finished and unfinished parts, which helps ensure proper handling of the parts.

Josh Westmoreland is a robotics specialist at Cross Company. This article originally appeared on Cross Company’s blog. Cross Company is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media, cvavra@cfemedia.com