End of arm tooling for robotics benefits and applications

End of arm tooling (EOAT) is a crucial aspect of robotic technology and gives a robot a specific functionality and can be changed to fit different applications or even be built to accommodate several processes at once.
By Robotic Industries Association (RIA) September 26, 2017

End of arm tooling (EOAT) is a crucial aspect of robotic technology that refers to the equipment that interacts with parts and components, typically at the end of a robotic arm such as the welding torch on a robotic welding system. The EOAT gives a robot a specific functionality and can be changed to fit different applications or even be built to accommodate several processes at once. Either way, advancements in EOAT capabilities are parallel to advancements in robotic capabilities.

Random bin picking, where a robot picks and places a variety of part sizes and shapes from a bin, has emerged as a mainstream application. While vision systems have certainly played a large role in making this application possible, so has EOAT. For random bin picking, EOAT needs to be extremely flexible with the ability to effectively pick and place several different types of parts. This provides numerous advantages for manufacturers, as the only alternative is to have a robotic system for every type of part that needs handled.

Image courtesy: Bob Vavra, CFE MediaPopular types of EOAT in robot applications

Different types of EOAT for robots include grippers, welding torches, force-torque sensors, material removal tools, collision sensors, tool changers, and more. They’re powered electrically, hydraulically, mechanically or pneumatically. The application dictates which type of EOAT is needed.

Currently, pneumatic EOATs have proven to be the most popular since they’re easy to integrate and have a lot of power in a small package. Grippers are also a popular EOAT for robots as pick and place applications are prime targets for automation and the gripping capabilities of robots has advanced significantly in recent years. EOAT is an important part of a robotic system. It’s what gives a robot its functionality, and as EOAT advances, so does robotics.

This article originally appeared on the Robotics Online Blog. Robotic Industries Association (RIA) is a part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3). A3 is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media, cvavra@cfemedia.com.