New developments in robotic welding, cobots, industrial robots

Advances in robots and robotic systems integrated with welding and safety technologies, collaborative robots and industrial robots were shown at Automate 2024 event by A3, the Association for Advancing Automation, in Chicago.

By Mark T. Hoske June 21, 2024
Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Automate 2024: Robotic welding, collaborative robot insights

  • Robotic welding workcells from Yaskawa Motoman are integrated with easier controls, decrease installation time, as new collaborative robots weld faster, as shown at Automate 2024, by A3, the Association for Advancing Automation, in Chicago.
  • Collaborative robot designs handle more payload and decrease programming.
  • Robot software, parcel induction robot and fast industrial robots add productivity, one extends its reach; award cites robot career development efforts.

Robots and robotic systems have been integrated with welding and safety technologies to make robotic welding easier to implement, according multiple Yaskawa Motoman announcements. Collaborative robots get a larger payload and are easier to program, and industrial robots are extending their usefulness with greater speed and longer reach, the company said, at Automate 2024 event by A3, the Association for Advancing Automation, in Chicago. Summaries, photos and video clips of the new industrial robotic capabilities follow.

Figure 1: Yaskawa’s Smart Pendant software version 3.0 extends capability for the highly intuitive and easy-to-use Yaskawa Smart Pendant. Building on prior software updates, the highly efficient Smart Pendant v3.0 adds basic arc welding support to the tablet-style pendant. It was shown at Automate 2024 event by A3, the Association for Advancing Automation, in Chicago. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Figure 1: Yaskawa’s Smart Pendant software version 3.0 extends capability for the highly intuitive and easy-to-use Yaskawa Smart Pendant. Building on prior software updates, the highly efficient Smart Pendant v3.0 adds basic arc welding support to the tablet-style pendant. It was shown at Automate 2024 event by A3, the Association for Advancing Automation, in Chicago. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Robotic welding workcells, integrated with easier controls

Yaskawa Motoman announced:

  • Easy to install ArcWorld LC Workcells optimize productivity for lighter volume fabrication

  • HC-Series robots facilitate collaborative welding for increased productivity

  • Universal Weldcom Interface is an easy-to-use pendant application for arc welding

  • ArcWorld HC is a flexible human-collaborative workcell for robotic welding

  • AR-Series Robots to offer high-speed welding to boost productivity

Figure 2: This ArcWorld Workcell, uses HC-Series robots facilitate collaborative welding, Yaskawa Motoman HC10 collaborative welding robot, YRC1000 robotic controller (bottom right), integrated arc welding package and third-party safety-rated workcell welding table. It was shown at at Automate 2024 event by A3, the Association for Advancing Automation, in Chicago. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Figure 2: This ArcWorld Workcell, uses HC-Series robots facilitate collaborative welding, Yaskawa Motoman HC10 collaborative welding robot, YRC1000 robotic controller (bottom right), integrated arc welding package and third-party safety-rated workcell welding table. It was shown at at Automate 2024 event by A3, the Association for Advancing Automation, in Chicago. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Light-duty robotic workcells

Featuring a space-saving design with single or dual workstation  configurations, the ArcWorld LC (Lite Cell) robotic welding system is ideal for fabricators with lighter volume requirements for small- to medium-part welding. Providing efficiency and consistent weld quality, the AW-LC is fast and simple to install or relocate. ArcWorld LC single workstation configuration product details include:

  • A fixed tooling table with a 250 kg payload or a servo-driven MH185 headstock with a 185 kg payload. Dual-workstation configuration can have fixed tooling tables or two MH185 headstocks.

  • Power disconnect, welding equipment and robot controller come prewired on a separate 1 m x 1 m base that can be located near the workcell.

  • Fencing is easy to assemble and matches up with the operator station access and workcell base, all of which can be lagged directly to the floor.

  • Each workcell has one high-speed, six-axis AR1440 robot with YRC1000 controller.

  • Weld package includes either a Miller Auto-Continuum 350 or Lincoln Electric Power Wave R450 power source.

  • Yaskawa’s digital Universal Weldcom Interface (UWI) allows control of welding parameters and settings from the robot programming pendant.

  • The workcells completed risk assessment in accordance with the ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012 robot safety standard, including a functional safety unit (FSU) to monitor the robot and positioner.

Collaborative robots weld faster

Six-axis HC10 and HC20 human-collaborative (HC) robots enable operation with, or in close proximity to human workers. Features include:

  • A 1,379 mm reach and the 10-kg payload for the HC10

  • A 1,900 mm reach and 20 kg payload for HC20

  • TUV-certified to ISO 13849-1; complies with ISO 10218-1 and ISO TS 15066

  • Power and Force Limiting (PFL), where dual channel torque sensors in all joints constantly monitor force to quickly react.

  • Through-arm utilities hide cabling, including a Category 6 ethernet cable that enables communications for tooling options to reduces risk of snagging or interference with other equipment.

  • Ability to shift between collaborative speed in PFL mode or full speed in industrial mode, optimizing cycle times based on risk assessment and process requirements.

  • Robot path teaching via hand guiding, lightweight teach pendant, or jogging with an external device using I/O control.

  • IP67 rating

  • Compatibility with Miller Auto-Continuum, Lincoln Power Wave with ArcLink, Fronius TPSi, and other brands or semi-automatic power sources with I/O control of the torch trigger switch.

  • An available Yaskawa Universal Weldcom Interface (UWI) enables control of a compatible power source brand with a common interface, third-party torches, tooling and accessories.

  • A YRC1000 controller does not require a transformer for input voltages from 380VAC to 480VAC.

  • Controller cabinet is 598 W x 490 H x 427 D mm.

Universal welding robot interface eases integration

Yaskawa Universal Weldcom Interface (UWI) is an easy-to-use pendant application that enables use of advanced capabilities on select Fronius, Miller, Lincoln Electric, SKS and OTC digital welding power supplies. UWI enables:

  • Easy control of any weld process or parameter, including voltage, amperage and wire feed speed through a common user interface for either brand.

  • Filter for weld modes based on process type, wire size, wire type and gas type.

  • Defining up to 16 unique processes from the power source library for easy access in the interface. Up to 1,000 custom arc files with specific processes and parameters are available for use in motion programming.

  • Setting of up to six weld process parameters in a weld sequence – such as Pre-Flow, Start, Main, Crater and Finish Condition.

  • A new Dual Pulse function for alternating between MIG weld parameters and settings for aesthetically pleasing TIG-like cosmetics.

  • Weld settings on the UWI use terms that match the user’s preferred power source.

  • Standard ARCON commands are used, eliminating the need for complicated macro jobs. Programming with arc file interface or inline instructions is supported. Easy access to graphical help screens explains terminology and functions.

  • Compatibility with the Miller Auto-Continuum 350 or 500, or the Lincoln Power Wave with ArcLink XT.

  • Simplified networking utility enables easy setup between the robots and the welders.

Figure 3: Yaskawa Motoman’s HC30PL Collaborative Robot is a six-axis human-collaborative robot that facilitates safe and efficient fenceless palletizing, and can be used in select handling, packaging and logistical applications of demanding production environments. It has 30 kg payload and 1,700 mm maximum reach, as seen at the Automate 2024 event by A3, the Association for Advancing Automation, in Chicago. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Figure 3: Yaskawa Motoman’s HC30PL Collaborative Robot is a six-axis human-collaborative robot that facilitates safe and efficient fenceless palletizing, and can be used in select handling, packaging and logistical applications of demanding production environments. It has 30 kg payload and 1,700 mm maximum reach, as seen at the Automate 2024 event by A3, the Association for Advancing Automation, in Chicago. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Collaborative workcell does robotic welding

For human-collaborative (HC) interaction, the ArcWorld HC (see photos, video) provides welding for the fabrication of small- to medium-size parts. Ideal for replacing or supplementing manual weld processes, such as pre-assembly before welding in larger robotic workcells, this pre-engineered mobile cart system is well-suited for high-mix, low-volume production. Product features include:

  • A 1,200 mm x 2,400 mm perforated fixture table with three-sided access

  • A single human-collaborative HC10DTP robot, a 1,379 mm maximum working range and a 10 kg payload capacity, for welding parts up to 500 H x 2,000 W x 800 D mm.

  • Retractable arc curtain and built-in exhaust hood

  • A compatible Miller, Lincoln Electric, SKS, OTC or Fronius power supply, a 14-gauge metal tool board, tool balancer and debris tray

  • A 120 VAC 20-Amp electrical extension outlet and 120 psi air connection are provided for common welding tools.

  • Overhead LED lighting for interior illumination

  • Solid wheels and leveling feet enable quick and easy installation or relocation.

  • Wire spool and shield gas bottle holders are optional.

  • Power and Force Limiting (PFL) technology and hand-guided teaching

  • IP67 rating

  • Air cut speeds (250 mm/s) are achieved with arc curtain closed

  • Collaborative speed is (200 mm/s) when the curtain is open.

  • Risk assessment is provided

  • YRC1000 controller uses a lightweight, standard teach pendant with intuitive programming.

  • Digital Universal Weldcom Interface (UWI) allows control of welding parameters and settings from the robot programming pendant.

Six-axis robots for high-speed welding

Designed for arc welding applications, seven models in the AR-series six-axis robots optimize acceleration/deceleration control for all robot axes and improve. Features include:

  • 8 to 25 kg payload capacity to support a wide variety of sensors and torches for welding application flexibility.

  • High-speed search maximizes weld quality and speed without complicated programming. Preprogrammed welding processes allow users to select materials and weldment properties to automatically control supply settings.

  • A digital interface on the robot programming pendant allows the user to remotely access and manipulate weld settings with all major brands of power supplies.

  • All models feature easy maintenance, including a data saving feature that permits the robot’s wire harness to be replaced without having to connect it to a battery.

  • Improved programming pendant design features enhanced ergonomics and is 27% lighter weight than the previous generation.

Collaborative robots: More payload, less programming

Yaskawa’s HC30PL Collaborative Robot is a six-axis human-collaborative robot that facilitates safe and efficient fenceless palletizing and can be used in select handling, packaging and logistical applications of demanding production environments. Features include:

  • 30 kg payload and 1,700 mm maximum reach.

  • Direct-teach, plug and play (DTP).

  • Power and Force Limiting (PFL) technology to monitors force, reacts to contact.

  • Hand-guided programming for direct-teach points without a pendant for quick implementation of the robot system

  • Plug and play tool flange based on EN ISO-9409-1-80-6-MB connects a wide variety of end-of-arm tooling for fast and simple deployment.

  • A thru-arm category 6 Ethernet cable, I/O cable and dual 5 mm ID air lines eliminate external eases setup.

  • Cabinet of 598 W x 499 H x 427 D mm avoids transformer use for input voltages ranging from 380VAC to 480VAC.

  • Yaskawa PalletSolver software for fast and easy offline creation of palletizing patterns for most SKUs mixes when using the standard teach pendant; Smart Pendant V2.2 or newer has a Smart Pattern extension.

Enhanced collaborative robotic applications, smarter configuration

The six-axis HC10DTP and HC20DTP collaborative robots enrich easy capability for Yaskawa’s HC-series line with hand-guided programming that allows users to direct teach points without a pendant, and an ISO standard tool flange and electrical connections facilitate a plug-and-play deployment.

Collaborative applications include assembly, dispensing, machine tending, material handling, packaging and welding. Features include:

  • Power and Force Limiting (PFL) technology constantly monitors force to quickly and safely react to contact, withadvanced pinchless geometry.

  • Thru-arm Category 6 Ethernet cable, I/O cable and dual air lines to eliminate external utilities while offering fast, safe and easy setup of a wide variety of communication options for tooling.

  • Made of cast aluminum for durability, robots are IP67-rated and equipped for use in damp or splash-prone environments.

  • Four modes of collaborative operation and can easily shift between collaborative speed in PFL mode or full speed in industrial mode, optimizing cycle times based on risk assessment and process requirements.

  • HC10DTP has a 10 kg payload capacity, 1,379 mm maximum reach, 1,200 mm effective reach and ±0.05 mm repeatability.

  • HC20DTP has a 20 kg payload capacity, 1,900 mm maximum reach, 1,700 mm effective reach and ±0.05 mm repeatability. With an appropriate-sized riser, the HC20DTP robot is capable of loading or unloading a 40 x 48-inch pallet (up to 80-inches tall) without an elevator.

  • Installation is quick and efficient.

  • One cable connects the manipulator to the controller.

Robot software, parcel induction robot

Yaskawa Smart Pendant Software Version 3.0 expands ease of use and application support. Pallet builder simplifies robotic palletizing systems with code-free capability. Flexible, high-speed robotic parcel induction helps with order fulfillment.

Yaskawa said using its Smart Pendant Software Version 3.0 expands ease of use and application support. Featuring multiple improvements and optimization, Yaskawa’s Smart Pendant software version 3.0 extends capability for the highly intuitive and easy-to-use Yaskawa Smart Pendant. Building on prior software updates, the highly efficient Smart Pendant v3.0 adds basic arc welding support to the tablet-style pendant (photo) that also allows quick robotic implementation of basic assembly, injection molding, inspection, machine tending, material handling, and pick and place tasks. Enabling previously unsupported functions, software v3.0:

  • Provides a built-in customizable Interface Panel. This option enables users to monitor their robot cell while also offering the ability to start/pause the cell and reset minor alarms.
  • Improves configuration and programming of third-party devices, including Yaskawa’s Smart Packager software development kit (SDK). This desktop tool enables third parties to combine multiple components into one file, a Yaskawa Installation Package (YIP) that automates processes typically outlined in a manual.
  • Adds YRC1000 controller software updates, step or incremental jogging, multi-touch jogging, dynamic charts and graphs, read and write second and work home positions and other INFORM usability improvements are also included.
  • Includes Soft Pendant software – a digital version of the YRC1000 pendant that can run on a Microsoft Windows operating system.

Expanding Smart Pendant capability, the easy-to-use Yaskawa Pallet Builder extension enables quick development and deployment of palletizing cells. Designed for single pick and place tasks, this intuitive user interface:

  • Uses a robust database and guided prompts to facilitate no-code programming for workcell configuration and pallet pattern setup.

  • Provides general functions for cell definition, gripper definition, and single pick and place jobs.

  • Supports up to eight combined stations.

  • Offers easy customization and job editing for specific system requirements.

  • Is available as a complimentary download for use with GP-series and HC-series robots.

  • Requires Smart Pendant V3.0 or newer.

Highly flexible, robust robotic automation provides fast, accurate parcel induction and singulation in dynamic order fulfillment settings. Easily integrated with a wide range of traditional sortation and packaging applications, customized robotic solutions can facilitate fluid piece picking and placing of items onto conveyors for rapid material handling of boxes, polybags and padded envelopes of varying sizes. An updated robotic parcel induction workcell (video) equipped with a high-speed GP12 robot was shown at Automate 2024, with a 1,440 mm horizontal reach, 2,511 mm vertical reach and a 12 kg payload capacity. It used Plus One Robotics PickOne Perception Kit that uses 2D, 3D and AI algorithms to identify each pickable item in view before assigning it a placement location. It included flexible conveyors from Dynamic Conveyor Corp. (DynaCon) and Dorner and safety guarding by Advanced Machine Guarding Solutions (AMGS).

Fast industrial robots add productivity, one extends its reach

Yaskawa Motoman GP7, GP8, GP12 robots provide high-speed handling to boost productivity; the Yaskawa GP8L extended reach robot is fast and space-efficient. Each of the GP7, GP8 and GP12 six-axis robots:

  • Offer the highest payload, fastest speed and highest wrist allowable moment in its class with improved acceleration/deceleration control for all robot positions adding productivity.

  • Has a small footprint and slim arm design for high-density layouts.

  • Enables quick, efficient installation using one cable to connect the manipulator to the controller.

  • Has a data-saving feature that permits the robot’s wire harness to be replaced without having to connect it to a battery.

  • Can be floor-, ceiling- or wall-mounted.

GP7 and GP8 robots are ideal for high-volume assembly, handling and packaging processes, with

  • Increased axis speeds up to 39%

  • Increased maximum reach allows operation in wider work areas and the slim arm design allows these robots to delve deeply into the workspace.

  • IP67 washdown rating with an easy-to-clean surface

  • An optional manipulator cable that can be connected on the bottom of the robot (as opposed to the side) to reduce interference with walls.

  • GP7 offers a 7 kg payload capacity, 927 mm horizontal reach and 1,693 mm vertical reach.

  • GP8 offers an 8 kg payload capacity, 727 mm horizontal reach and 1,312 mm vertical reach.

The GP12 robot:

  • Offers a higher 12-kg payload capacity and its axis speeds have been increased up to 15% for increased productivity.

  • Has a 1,440 mm horizontal reach and 2,511 vertical reach

  • Has an IP67-rated wrist and IP54 body (IP65 optional).

  • Routes cables and utilities through its hollow arm structure eliminating cable interference.

The extended reach GP8L six-axis robot offers extremely fast performance in a compact footprint, maximizing floorspace for high-speed bin picking, induction and packaging tasks. Applications for assembly, dispensing, material handling and machine tending (photo) are also expertly supported. The design:

Figure 4: High-speed bin picking and placing can be achieved with robotics, machine vision and easier to use software, as Yaskawa Motoman showed at Automate 2024 event by A3, the Association for Advancing Automation, in Chicago. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Figure 4: High-speed bin picking and placing can be achieved with robotics, machine vision and easier to use software, as Yaskawa Motoman showed at Automate 2024 event by A3, the Association for Advancing Automation, in Chicago. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

provides a broad working envelope and the ability to delve deeply into tight workspaces.

  • Has wide wrist motion range to eliminate interference.

  • Features an IP54 body

  • Offers an 8 kg payload capacity, 1,636 mm horizontal reach and 2,894 mm vertical reach.

  • Can be floor-, wall-, tilt- or ceiling-mounted.

  • Includes brakes on all axes.

  • Uses the YRC1000 controller that does not require a transformer for input voltages ranging from 380VAC to 480VAC.

  • Has a cabinet of 598 W x 490 H x 427 D mm.

  • Uses a lightweight standard teach pendant with intuitive programming; Smart Pendant is available as an option.

Awards acknowledge robot career development, customer recognition

A member and strong supporter of the ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) Institute since its formation in 2017, Yaskawa America Inc., Motoman Robotics Division (Yaskawa Motoman) announced two recipients of the ARM Champion Award (for those who enable and advocate for the ARM Institute’s work of making robotics, autonomy, and artificial intelligence more accessible to U.S. manufacturers for a more resilient future) over a two-year consecutive period. These are:

  • Clint Chapman, senior manager of strategic partner relations and member of Consortium’s Education & Workforce Advisory Committee (EWAC), was recognized for helping to develop https://RoboticsCareer.org, an ARM-powered website that supports the manufacturing workforce at each stage of the robotics career.

  • Roger Christian, division leader for new business development and member of ARM’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), which seeks to drive the creation and iteration of technical strategy that helps to ensure a strong national manufacturing ecosystem. Recognized for his persistent promotion of the ROS-Industrial (ROS-I) community and the ARM Institute consortium, he continues to build on 40 years of robotics industry experience, helping to bridge the gap between advanced research and product commercialization for a stronger national manufacturing sector.

Figure 5: Robotend Automated Machine Tending workcell by Vista Automation, at Automate 2024, is compatible with multiple computer numerical control (CNC) vendors, uses a Yaskawa Motoman robot, but doesn’t require robot programming. It was at the Yaskawa booth at Automate 2024 event by A3, the Association for Advancing Automation, in Chicago. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Figure 5: Robotend Automated Machine Tending workcell by Vista Automation, at Automate 2024, is compatible with multiple computer numerical control (CNC) vendors, uses a Yaskawa Motoman robot, but doesn’t require robot programming. It was at the Yaskawa booth at Automate 2024 event by A3, the Association for Advancing Automation, in Chicago. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Yaskawa America Inc., Motoman Robotics Division (Yaskawa Motoman), in its 2023 Customer Satisfaction survey, received an overall corporate rating of 4.7 on a possible scale of 5.0, the company said. Measurements showed year-over-year improvements in Applications, Customer Satisfaction, Marketing, Sales and Standard Products.

“This level of performance is a direct result of a dedicated, highly experienced team focused on executing sound strategies, producing quality solutions and delivering world-class support,” said Steve Barhorst, president and COO of Yaskawa Motoman, in a related statement. “This achievement validates that our corporate commitment to customer support, combined with extra efforts by all employees, results in satisfied customers.”

Mark T. Hoske, editor-in-chief, Control Engineering, WTWH Media, mhoske@wtwhmedia.com, edited this material from Yaskawa America Inc. after visiting the Automate 2024 booth and taking these photos and videos.


Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.