Up Close and Personal with FANUC's Collaborative Robot
James Anderton posted on October 06, 2015 | | 7209 views

Collaboration isn't just for virtual meetings anymore. In industrial robotics, eliminating cumbersome safety gating and getting robots that can safely work literally shoulder to shoulder with people is a manufacturing game changer, and ENGINEERING.com recently had a chance to see a good example up close...really close. The venue was in Toronto at the  Canadian Manufacturing and Technology Show (CMTS) and the robot was the FANUC CR-35iA.

FANUC Robotic’s newest piece of automation is an excellent example of collaborative robotics: robots that can work in close proximity with humans safely and without protective barriers.

“The CR-35iA is based on our standard M20 robot,” Chris Reed, senior project manager at FANUC, told ENGINEERING.com at CMTS. “You can touch it anywhere or stomp on the ground nearby, any shockwave will cause the robot to stop. It will automatically restart when there is no longer any type of pressure against the robot.”

The CR-35iA is covered in a soft foam green cover to protect workers who happen to bump into it and stops gently when it senses contact.

The robot was developed to help manufacturers solve not only safety issues, but ergonomic ones. In the automotive industry, for example, workers often have to lift heavy objects like tires into vehicles on the assembly line. The CR-35iA could help in these scenarios with its 35kg payload.

Reed believes that the CR-35iA could also break out into other industries. “I’m sure there will be other industries aside from automotive that will be interested in this product, but it is new to the market so right now a lot of the interest is from automotive.”

Other applications may include lifting custom equipment, palletizing or packing and tote or carton handling.

Is there a draw back to utilizing a robot like the CR-35iA? Preprogrammed paths of motion will need to be accurately mapped to ensure the robot doesn’t repeatedly stop working if it were to accidentally bump into another machine.

To learn more about the CR-35iA, visit fanuc.eu.

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