Innovation in robotics will be driven by changing technology in process and materials, not the other way around. It will be up to robot makers to nimbly adjust to customer needs for future advances in automation, Automated Assemblies Corp. (Booth S1576) officials say.
For the Clinton, Mass.-based firm, the future is now.
The manufacturer of linear-axis robots is continuing to invest in its Raptor-brand automation package - a work cell that includes robots, software, controls and part handling and integrated vision-inspection systems, designed for injection molders.
It's a product-bundling concept the company is pushing to current and potential customers, said Norton Kaplan, Automated Assemblies director of product marketing, in a June 18 interview at NPE.
``It's not that we developed the technology,'' Kaplan said. ``It's just that we packaged it.''
The new Raptor 3000 HP top-entry robot has single- and double-arm configurations for presses from 200 tons to 800 tons, which enables molders to operate three-plate and stack molds in large presses without automation equipment.
The Raptor 3000 HP features dry-cycle takeout times of less than a half-second and overall cycle times of less than five seconds, with a payload capacity of 22 pounds per vertical arm. Automated Assemblies says the robot has the highest payload-to-performance ratio in the industry.
At the end of the day, the concept of automation is to be more efficient and save money, thus bringing value to customers. Vision-inspection is part of that process, in some cases, completely removing the risk of shipping defective parts.
But it's important to remember, Kaplan said, that sending out 100 percent quality parts doesn't necessarily mean a company is making 100 percent quality parts. It doesn't necessarily reduce scrap rates unless companies are willing to work toward doing so.
``It's not a substitute for developing a good process and good parts,'' he said.
Automated Assemblies manufactures all its robots and equipment in Clinton, though it has a sales, service and engineering presence in Europe and Asia. About 30-40 percent of Automated Assemblies' sales comes from outside North America, Kaplan said.
The company has capacity to make about 300 robots per year.
The lion's share of advancements to the Raptor line has been on the control system, and the company will continue to develop more ``features and functionality,'' Kaplan said.
As for the future after the Raptor line, Kaplan declined to offer specifics, partly, he said, because plans have not been finalized.