Industrial robots are autonomous systems consisting of sensors, controllers, and actuators that perform specific functions and operations on a manufacturing or processing line. They work continuously through repeated cycles of movement, as instructed by a set of commands called a program. These machines minimize or eliminate human factors to gain various advantages in processing speed, productivity and quality.
Traditional industrial robots are not to be confused with a new type of robotics called collaborative robots. Collaborative robots, or cobots, are designed to work closely and simultaneously with human operators. They are much smaller, but more versatile. They are equipped with sophisticated sensors that allow them to sense the movements of people nearby.
The main structure of an industrial robot is the arm. An arm is a structure composed of links and joints. Links are rigid components that move through space within the confines of the robot. A joint, on the other hand, is a mechanical component that connects two links while allowing translational (movement) or rotational (rotational) motion. The configuration of these two components classifies different types of industrial robots.
The most important part of the robot is the end-of-arm tool (eat) or end effector. EOATs are components that operate a product or process through movement or orientation. They are used for special operations such as welding, measuring, marking, drilling, cutting, painting, cleaning, etc.
When adopting an industrial robotics solution, process owners can choose to obtain the services of a manufacturer or an integrator. An industrial robot manufacturer supplies robots made by its own company. They are often referred to as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Since they are responsible for the design and manufacture of the robot, they can expertly provide insights into the installation, operation and maintenance of the machine.
An industrial robotics integrator offers OEM-manufactured robotic systems. They only perform installation and maintenance services, not actual production of machines. Because they can offer more products, they can offer more diverse solutions. For each robotics component category, they can represent more than one company.