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協作機器人夯引領工業4.0風潮 (2016-06-22 IEK產業情報網 )

Industrial robot manufacturers are all very aware that even if factories are seriously under-staffed and have difficulties finding new recruits, the workforce will not be completely replaced by robotic arms. Hence the idea that robots could be used to assist the existing labor force, that is, robots for human-robot cooperation (Collaborative Robot) was born.
Around the year 2000, the application model for industrial robots was for the pipeline style of production, which featured coordinating steps with the extensive use of jigs and fixtures for synchronized processing. Around 2010, robot-robot cooperation came into being, where robotics applications are used in a continuous production mode, using robots to replace the jigs and fixtures. The application of human-robot collaboration emerged after 2013, where quick changeovers can take place on a production line, and teachable operations can be used to perform non-synchronized processing. The key issue for this type of collaboration is safety, i.e. human interaction safeguards.
The development of the industrial robot and its components that accommodate quick changeovers, utilize robotic arms with teachable operations and the human-robot safety technology, is already a global trend. When the robot is in motion, it stops immediately if it detects a sudden force.
According to an estimate published by the Boston Consulting Group in early 2015, on average only about 10% of the work done in a factory is performed by robots. It has been years since the development of industrial robots began, and the fact that only 10% of the work is performed by robots means that there is still 90% waiting to be automated. Collaborative Robots for human-robot cooperation must have safeguards and teachable features, both of which are the new benchmarks for the next generation robots, and the new Blue Ocean market for industrial robots. Industrial robot manufacturers worldwide are investing a large amount of resources in this development, attempting to seize the business opportunities.
To put a component on a table, the industrial robot with conventional technology depends on a pre-programmed position control. If the table height is 2 cm taller than the original, the robot will press the component down into the table based on its original setting, ruining the component or the table in the process. Humans would not press the component into the table while performing this operation. Such a sensory technique can be achieved by installing visual and force sensors into the robot. With the aid of visual and force sensing devices, robots are adaptable to environmental changes, which is the major difference between a collaborative robot and a conventional industrial robot.
Swiss robotics giant, ABB, designed a dual-arm robot that realizes the spirit of human-robot collaboration, where the robot turns over the task to a man for the next step of the work process, or the man can hand over the job directly to the robot. The dual-arm robot is a very human-friendly design that allows for a safe side-by-side working environment for humans and robots, so that they can complete assigned tasks together.
ABB developed the dual-arm robot to meet the demands for flexible and dexterous manufacturing technology in the consumer electronics manufacturing industry. It is a dual-arm assembly solution with visual and tactile coordination. Padded with soft materials, the dual arms are fitted with innovative force-sensing technology that is adept at protecting and safeguarding the workers. The robotic system, named YuMi by ABB, is task-oriented in that various tasks, such as picking up and putting down, can be standardized and safeguarded, so that the robot is still able to complete tasks even when an object's coordinates have changed.
The task of using or adjusting conventional industrial robots in a factory is usually performed by an engineer; while ideally, becoming an “expert” operator of a collaborative robot only requires simple operational training, without the need to understand a robotic programming language.
For an industrial robot to begin working, it often requires the additional purchase of sensory devices and software, a scenario that is not very user friendly. An ideal collaborative robot comes fully equipped, and is ready to work straight out of the box. It is expected, that in the future, collaborative robotics industry manufacturers will convert all of their products so that they have the same consolidated operating system, and will follow the operational model of iOS and Android systems, which have open platforms that allow third-party developers to design various Apps for a variety of applications. These Apps are open to users to download, and thus bring profitability to the developers.
The traditional assembly technology is increasingly unable to meet the requirements of modern production. Hence, the manufacturing industries of various nations are developing industrial automation. However, the digital messages generated by automated components require a communication protocol to send messages back to the cloud or databank, and that protocol is yet to be unified. Whoever obtains the domination of this unified protocol will be able to grab the lead in automation.
The protocol that provides communication between automated components is like a language to a robot. Having a common automation language would be like having Apple's iOS system, providing an opportunity to develop and lead the ecology for Industry 4.0. The collaborative robotics industry may very well be setting the trend in the technological development of this field. Currently, the core technology of the collaborative robot developed by ITRI (high-safety tactile robot) utilizes tactile sensing technology and its patented sensing-component structure and skin-padded sensing monitoring system. The advantage is that everything pertaining to the robot, from the materials of the sensing components, to the design, production, circuitry, controls, and the robotic systems are made locally. A robot with tactile sensors can detect abnormal conditions during its motion with precision, thereby avoiding the danger of collision, while improving safety.
Taiwanese manufacturers should promote the production of collaborative robots as their core strategy, and apply their technical know-how to system applications in order to compliment the R&D innovations of robot production. It should be an ideal technological development niche to figure out how to apply and integrate collaborative robots into general production lines. Taiwanese manufacturers should analyze the automation technology requirements of the production end, and work together with the robot developers to design robotic systems that are suitable for a variety of production lines, thereby leading the industry in a direction that gradually replaces imported robotic systems with domestic technology. In addition, the industry should integrate the precision machinery and equipment industry with the robotics industry, set development targets to improve the accuracy of robot production and to develop stand-alone automation, and accelerate the integration of mechanical products while establishing interface standards.

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