Automation and robotics use specialized equipment to perform defined physical tasks, like packing products in boxes or spot welding metal frames. Sometimes we hear “automation” and think “robot.” With a range of payload and reach capacities, easy programming, articulated joints, and high speed, robots are a clear choice for applications requiring precise movements and repeatability. It’s no wonder they’re becoming more and more popular among manufacturers of all sizes, especially smaller, user-friendly collaborative robots.
Robots are not new technology. However, they are showing up in new places all the time such as smaller manufacturing and machine shops, medical settings, warehouses for packaging and order picking, and maybe even your local coffee shop!
If you’ve ever had the fleeting thought that robots in factories, homes, and even amusement parks will suddenly go berserk and attack or take over the world, you’re not alone. Movies, television, and literature are full of humanoid and mobile robotic machines that eventually turn on the people they’re supposed to be helping. From science fiction writer Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics to the very real implications of AI and machine learning technology, there has always been an undercurrent of mistrust when it comes to robotics.
It seems obvious that a robotic arm can’t perform a specific task until an end-of-arm tool (EOAT), sometimes called an end effector, is added. It might seem as simple as buying a tool for the task, but it’s actually a complex decision with several interconnected factors to consider. These are the top five: