Robotic offline programming increases manufacturing production

Robotic offline programming (OLP) reduces initial setup time, programming time, and changeover and alteration time for manufacturers.

By Robotic Industries Association (RIA) January 1, 2020

Automation speeds up manufacturing and production schedules; however, operators can see those gains dwindle when factoring in robotic programming time. Fortunately, engineers have found a solution with offline programming (OLP), which reduces initial setup time, programming time, and changeover and alteration time.

Offline programming tools provide operators with simulation software to create a digital representation of their production environment. This allows them to know how the robots will perform within the simulated environment. Thanks to offline programming, integrators of robotic systems have been able to implement automation in markets that don’t have room for the downtime associated with traditional programming methods.

OLP can reduce the time it would take to train a robot point-by-point. Operators can more efficiently create programs and updates to their simulated production line as their real-world robots keep humming along. OLP not only saves money by keeping the physical robots running, but changes to their programming can be implemented faster, doubling down on the benefits.

Benefits of robotic offline programming

Offline programming software isn’t just a robot simulator. It helps programmers and operators test updates and predict how their production line will be affected by changes to their automation system. A significant benefit is that robot operators don’t have to be highly-skilled in programming to use it.

The costs to implement an offline programming solution can be gained back through production and programming efficiency, making it a cost-effective solution for manufacturers. Since OLP software can be leveraged for nearly any application, the software helps production managers plan updates and make changes that can be implemented without extensive, if any, real-world testing.

Five ways robotic offline programming can help manufacturers

All the benefits of robotic offline programming make OLP applicable for nearly any robotic integration. Some facilities, however, will reap the benefits quicker than others. OLP can help manufacturers accomplish the following:

  1. Shorten startup times
  2. Tweak programs quickly
  3. Program heavy tasks faster
  4. Reduce downtime
  5. Reduce robotic changeover time.

Highly complex applications that require large amounts of time to program can make the best use of offline programming. Production facilities that produce large components or facilities that have a high part mix with low volume can also quickly see a return on the investment.

This article originally appeared on the Robotics Online Blog. Robotic Industries Association (RIA) is a part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), a CFE Media content partner.

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