While the use of industrial robots has increased exponentially in recent years, creating and implementing efficient manufacturing lines is an expensive and time consuming process. For this reason, Siemens PLM Software has developed RobotExpert; a new, easy to deploy robotic simulation and programming solution that allows users to create virtual mockups of manufacturing cells in order to create the most suitable and efficient combination of equipment in the shortest possible amount of time.
Targeted at small and medium sized manufacturers, RobotExpert is an 'out of the box' solution that offers the application of a number of iindustrial machines, including pick and place, arc welding, polishing and glueing. The platform is optimised to minimise downtime and increase throughput for shopfloor robots, as well as to enable the design, simulation, optimisation and offline programming of robotic applications to maximise speed, flexibility and operation.
Featuring an intuitive 3D environment, the software combines the ability to optimise robotic paths and improve cycle times with the option to simulate virtual mockups of complete manufacturing cells and systems. RobotExpert can be used to generate the most suitable combination of equipment to meet specific manufacturing needs, supporting faster product introduction as well as early evaluation of manufacturing times.
While industrial robots often have to be programmed manually, the software provides an offline programming and simulation tool to help minimise downtime by allowing the majority of the programming work to be done virtually. Simulation capabilities have also been implemented to help reduce hazards to shop floor personnel and equipment.
"Manufacturers are under a great deal of pressure to maximise return on capital investment, and production line automation provides an excellent opportunity to help increase efficiency," noted Zvi Feuer, senior vice president, manufacturing engineering software, Siemens PLM Software. "Small and mid-size manufacturers need an intuitive and easy to deploy solution that removes the complexities involved with implementing a robotic simulation and programming solution. That is why we have developed RobotExpert as an independent software solution.
"We have taken more than two decades of experience delivering robotic solutions for some of the most complex applications and created a simple intuitive solution which will help small and medium size manufacturing companies across industries build better products by making smarter manufacturing decisions."
Utilising the JT file format, RobotExpert includes a comprehensive library of robotic and automation equipment and is designed to provide smooth 3D data integration with a number of different systems. Users can create 3D models from scratch using RobotExpert, or import 3D models from other CAD tools or formats. The import is supported by a number of CAD translators, including NX software, Solid Edge software, SolidWorks, Catia and Pro/Engineer, as well as native formats such as IGES, STEP and Parasolid.
According to Siemens, the software helps detect collisions during robot simulation and motion, improving shopfloor workers' safety and preventing damages to equipment. It also has a collision detection mechanism so that any collisions or near misses can be analysed. A Gantt chart is used to represent operations and tasks, which are performed with production resources such as robots and automation equipment. This lets users visualise and easily optimise the entire workcell cycle.
Another benefit of the software is that it allows users to upload existing robotics programmes from the shopfloor, enabling re-use and optimisation. Users can customise their own offline programming commands in a parametric fashion and maintain commands and macro libraries, ensuring programme standardisation. If a special robotics application requires specific syntax through programmes, users can also easily build this syntax into libraries, which can be re-used whenever needed to avoid extra engineering effort.