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What You Need to Know About Industrial Painting Robots

Many years ago, robots ceased being an element of science fiction and futuristic trends. In fact, robots have been in use for more than 50 years in industrial and production settings. Robots were once large and expensive, and performed tasks too big or heavy for human workers. Today, smaller, specialized robots work side-by-side with humans in the same workspace, and cost a fraction of what they once did.

One area where robotics technology has excelled is in the area of industrial painting. Through specialized operator programming, an industrial painting robot is able to flawlessly and consistently produce a high-quality paint finish. The technology is used not only in large scale operations such as car manufacturing plants, but also in smaller settings that require a higher level of intricate and flexible responses, such as multi-component production.

By adding robotic vision technologies, industrial painting robots are able to analyze and inspect an object, determine the location of edges, recognize patterns, evaluate size, and a variety of other tasks. Robot vision is a combination of software, sensors, algorithms, and cameras that connect with the robot system and the application to guide it through a specified process. With this rapidly growing technology, robots can now recognize components, determine what parts to pick up or put down, and what areas to paint on an object. We can also program painting robots for pinpoint accuracy and unique specifications—no more drips or overspray issues.

Robotic technologies are providing new options for businesses, small and large, to compete in the global marketplace. Here are some of the ways that painting robots are changing the industrial and manufacturing landscape:

More Work, Less Space

  • With the development of slimmer, dual-armed models which have the capability of reaching farther, robots can be installed in smaller locations, such as a wall, a shelf, or even on a rail. This allows painting robots to perform a multitude of tasks using less space.
  • Additionally, through the development of anti-collision software, several robots are able to work in close proximity to one another without incident, performing joint or specialized tasks, which increases productivity.

Increased Workplace Safety

  • Workplace safety is a constant concern for all types of businesses, but especially in an industrial or manufacturing environment. In the past, robots were caged and secured in order to protect the human workers as well as the other robotic devices around them. Today, humans are able to work in close proximity to robots, and while safety procedures are still required, there is no longer the need for the complicated safety protocols of the past. Programming determines specific space proximities and limitations to enhance safety.
  • Exposure to hazardous materials has long been an issue in industrial settings. The chemical compounds found in paint are known to cause adverse health effects in human workers. Through robotic alternatives, such as using industrial painting robots, that risk is minimized.
  • Less hazardous waste is created due to the improved consistency of paint application by painting robots.

The business atmosphere of today demands high-quality product output, increased profitability, and the ability to adjust technology to meet not only the needs of the company, but also market demand. For 17 years, Concept Systems has provided the latest technological and innovative solutions for our customers’ operations. For information on a customized solution for your manufacturing and production needs, contact us.

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Get actionable data as fresh as today’s news

I was gathering some recyclables up at home this weekend and I picked up a newspaper from May 14, 2016 – exactly one month old. Something compelled me to open it up and page through it: national election updates, stock market prices, sports updates, international events.

Everything in that paper was now outdated and surpassed by more recent events. It was completely useless for me today.

How many businesses run their operations using month old data? Compile a month’s worth of data (after waiting for two weeks to get it entered), review, reconcile, publish. By then you are looking at data which is up to 6 weeks old! It’s too late to fix any problems. How much money and productivity are lost and resources wasted because we are using outdated information to manage our companies? I call this “Management by Old Newspaper”.

We developed Wave7 to eliminate the old newspaper style of management. Wave7 monitors the health and performance of assets in real-time. You can monitor equipment performance up to the minute, evaluate and assess it, and adjust tomorrow’s plans as needed. And with our predictive analytics engine, you can take preventative action regarding an impending problem, as Wave7 will alert your team immediately so they can respond before the downtime event.

One of our customers has assets all over the world. Once in a while they would have a ‘situation’; a bad situation that would result in lost production. “What happened? Why did it happen? And why am I finding out 3 weeks later?”

Now, with Wave7 installed on each asset, the customer can monitor the assets in real time from his smartphone, wherever he is and wherever the assets are. Now, when a ‘situation’ happens he is notified immediately; Wave7 sends him a text message. Using our event-driven DVR feature, he can replay the event to see exactly what happened in the minutes leading up to, and right after, the event. Working with his team, they can quickly assess the situation and develop a recovery plan.

Wave7 Easy Actionable Data Wave7 makes condition monitoring easy. In a world of complicated historians, transaction managers and enterprise-wide solutions, we are the Easy Button. Start with one asset and grow from there, adding assets as it makes sense. There is zero infrastructure required, so the starting costs are low.

Contact Wave7 today to cover your assets, and ride the Wave!

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What you should know about Robotic Vision Technology

“Robotic vision” is among the latest innovations in robotic and automation technology. Essentially, robot vision is a sophisticated technology that helps a robot, usually an automated robot, better identify things, navigate, find objects, inspect, and handle parts or bits before an application is performed.
Robot vision usually uses a series of carefully-calibrated algorithms, calibration, and even temperature detection sensors that all have a varying range of complexity and application. Just as technology rapidly accelerates in sophistication, robotic vision is constantly improving and moving in smoother directions.
This innovative, yet simple technology can cut operation costs and create a straightforward solution for all types of automation or robotic needs. Robots working side by side, when fitted with robotic vision technology, won’t collide with each other. There is also enhanced safety for human workers, as the robots will be able to “see” any workers who are in the way.
Robots fitted with robotic vision can perform a series of different tasks:

  • Measuring
  • Reading barcodes and scanners
  • Engine part inspection
  • Packaging inspection
  • Wood quality inspection
  • Surface inspection
  • Guidance and checking orientation of components and pieces
  • Inspecting for defects

The process of robotic vison works in two simple steps:

  1. Imaging: The robot uses its vision technology to do its scanning or “seeing.” It can scan two-dimensional things like line scanning and barcode scanning, as well as 3D imaging and X-ray imaging for inspection purposes.
  2. Image Processing: After detecting the object or image, the robot processes it, or “thinks about it.” For instance, it finds and detects edges, the presence of an obstruction, counts pixels, discovers and manipulates objects according to its programming, recognizes patterns, and processes the imagery according to its programming.

Depending on this process and the algorithm used to govern the actions of the robot, a certain part will be assembled, a default in a product may be detected, a product may be scanned and recognized, etc. Robotic vision technology can be applied practically as far as you can imagine, and is already being used in a series of industries, including automotive, industrial, manufacturing, food and product packaging, and parts assembly.
Concept Systems has the capabilities to integrate robotic vision technology, retrofit old robots with newer control systems, provide innovative solutions to your automation and robotic technology, and manage all aspects of the conception and integration.
Contact us to learn more about our planning and integration services! We’re ready to talk about your next project!

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Robotics Vision Technologies in the Real World

Robotic vision technology is a refined, safe, and industrious way for businesses to identify parts, and navigate through inventory with a robust efficiency that human workers could never achieve. Vision-guided robots will typically locate a part and adjust it for robotic usage. These robots often replace multiple mechanical tools, which frees up space and reduces operating costs.
More and more companies like Amazon and Best Buy are opting for robotic vision technology because of the device’s ability to increase productivity and cut costs. Robots can quickly move through these ecommerce companies’ massive warehouses, monitor critical sales data over time, and speak multiple languages.
The International Federation of Robotics estimates that over 400 robots will serve in supermarkets, stores, and museums by 2017. As technology continues to advance, these robots are more advanced and sophisticated than ever. They’re faster, and more affordable, making vision robots the predicted future of the service industry.
At Concept Systems, we’ve provided our robotics vision technology for various large scale projects, including:
Reducing labor costs for Vestcom, a company that serves more than 70% of retail food, drug, and mass merchants in The United States.

  • Our vision robots helped Vestcom hang shelf tags for weekly price change activities in a quick, cost-effective manner. This task would have taken days for a group of people, or even smaller machines, to do. A single robot was used to pick up printed labels and stack them on discharge conveyors. The best part about Concept’s robot was the fact that it seamlessly integrated with Vestcom’s existing laminator control system.

Giving the cake decorators at Dawn Foods, a food retailer that sells cakes to large supermarket chains, an intricate “edge.”

  • Retailers requested more intricate decorations on the cakes, and this usually requires time-consuming handwork. There were also complaints about the quality of decorations. Concept Systems’ vision robots helped Dawn Foods create high-quality, symmetrical, and intricate designs with 3-D scanners that use laser triangulation to create an image of each cake. This allowed the robots to know the exact dimensions of the cake so every design could be perfect.

Creating profitability by reducing damage costs for a coffee roasting company that was continuously experiencing ripped bags.

  • The coffee roaster’s robot technology was older and kept ripping the bags. As a result, pounds upon pounds of beans were spilled on the floor, which wasted a significant amount of money for the roasting company. The inefficient robot estimated to cost the company 100,000 pounds of wasted beans each year. Concept Systems’ robots were brought to upgrade the system, making it efficient, safe, and profitable. A control system with advanced 3D vision and PC software was used to precisely locate the position of each tier of bags and allow the robot to move directly to each bag and pick it up.
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The Basics of Programmable Logic Controllers

What do amusement park rides, factory assembly lines, and light fixtures have in common? They are all controlled by a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), a digital computer used to control machinery by constantly monitoring input and output devices.
PLCs are designed for multiple input and output arrangements, and can withstand various temperature ranges, electrical noises, vibrations, and impacts. Integrating a PLC into any production line or mechanical process is highly beneficial. PLCs enable operation processes to be changed or replicated, while simultaneously collecting and communicating important information.

How do PLCs work?

There are four basic operational steps for every PLC:

  1. Input Scan: Identifies the status of all input devices that are connected to the PLC.
  2. Program Scan: Implements the user-created program logic.
  3. Output Scan: Either energizes or de-energizes all connected output devices.
  4. Housekeeping: This includes communications with programming terminals and internal diagnostics.

What are input/output devices?

Input Device: An input device is a piece of computer hardware equipment used to provide data, and control signals to an information processing system (IPS).
Some examples of input devices include:

  • Switches and push buttons
  • Sensing devices
  • Limit switches
  • Proximity sensors
  • Photoelectric Sensors
  • Condition sensors
  • Vacuum switches
  • Temperature switches
  • Level switches
  • Pressure switches

Output Devices: An output device is any piece of hardware used to communicate the results of data processing carried out by an IPS, and translate the information into an understandable form.

  • Valves
  • Motor starters
  • Horns and alarms
  • Stack lights
  • Control relays
  • Pumps
  • Printers
  • Fans

What are the fundamentals of a PLC system?

CPU or processor: The Central Processing Unit, or main processor, is a microprocessor-based system. It executes the control program after reading field input status, then sends out commands to field outputs.
I/O section: I/O modules act as the Real Data Interface between field and CPU. A PLC knows the real status of field devices and controls them with relevant I/O cards.
Programming device: CPU cards can be connected with programming devices through a communication link via a programming port on the CPU.
Operating station: An operating station is used to provide an “operating window” to the PLC process. It is generally a separate device, like a PC, that is loaded with Human Machine Interface Software.

Why should I use a PLC?

  • PLCs eliminate the need for rewiring and adding additional hardware for each new logical configuration.
  • These devices increase the functionality of controls and do not take up much physical space.
  • Since PLCs are sectional, they can be mixed and matched, so you can choose the best combination of input and output devices for your specific operation.
  • PLCs can perform relay-switching tasks, as well as count, calculate, and compare analog process values.
  • A PLC’s flexibility makes it easy to modify control logic at any time.
  • PLCs are cost-effective for controlling complex systems.
  • PLCs provide easy trouble-shooting capabilities.
  • PLCs can work seamlessly with Human-Machine Interface computers.
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Collaborating on New Robotic Projects

No matter where robotics might take you next, a collaborative R&D approach can help realize what needs to be accomplished.

control systems engineersHave you noticed how ubiquitous robots are becoming? We’re used to seeing them in manufacturing environments welding car frames, assembling circuit boards or palletizing boxes, yet these days you can even find them pouring drinks on a cruise ship, moving LED screens at a concert or solving a Rubik’s cube.

We recently worked with two different startup companies with a vision for new product niches. Both lacked the manufacturing process knowledge to bring their ideas to life, and were stymied because there were no established norms to follow or OEMs with standard solutions. Their search led them to us because of our broad industry experience in constructing automation solutions, but more specifically because of our reputation for taking on challenging robotic automation projects. And trust me, neither of these are industries an automation solution provider would traditionally target.

The purpose of this blog is not how we appealed to a non-traditional industry, but rather how we approached these projects and applied our technology and industrial manufacturing knowledge to develop a solution that met their unique needs. Continue Reading →

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