Improving Material Handling at the Workplace through the Use of Industrial Robots
One of the most interesting devices that can be used advantageously in material handling at the workplace is the industrial robot or the universal transfer device. It can be employed to reduce costs, improve working conditions and increase production quantity and quality output. Also, it can help to solve production and inventory problems. A clear understanding of the industrial robot capabilities and limitations is necessary to select tasks for possible robot applications. Each industrial robot has a distinctive reach, moving and carrying capacity. Through the provision of a wide variety of end-of-arm tools, an industrial robot is able to transfer parts, handle a variety of tools and perform many manufacturing tasks, including machine loading and assembly. Often it imposes some physical restrictions in the plant. For possible industrial robot applications, factual data must be collected to resolve technical, economic and human factors problems. Proper evaluation of the complexity of the application must be made for the selection of equipment that can perform the required task. Productivity increases and material savings must be considered in the economic justification for the application. The socio-psychological impact of robots on workers and supervisors should be evaluated. The implementation process is often hampered due to insufficient knowledge, lack of communication and fear of the unknown. The issues or problems involved in the justification, selection and implementation of industrial robots for the application in workplace material handling must be identified or highlighted and possible solutions should be presented.