24 Jul 2024

AUTOMATION FOR MANUFACTURING

‘Breakthrough’ restarts cobots automatically after shutdowns

Flexxbotics’ Intelligent Recovery software recovers cobots automatically from work-stop conditions

A US company that specialises in workcell software for robot-driven manufacturing, has announced a “breakthrough” technology that will allow cobots (collaborative robots) to restart autonomously from stopped conditions, without needing human intervention. Flexxbotics says that its patent-pending Intelligent Recovery technology will eliminate inadvertent, non-safety-related cobot stops, thus cutting unplanned downtime and boosting unattended production.

Cobots periodically encounter circumstances that cause them to stop and usually need a person to reset and restart them. These occurrences – such as part-workholding contacts and other non-safety-related conditions – lead to unplanned stoppages and can cause substantial reductions in utilisation and output, especially when personnel are not around.

The new development allows a robot to recognise its context and recover automatically so that manufacturing continues without downtime or human intervention.

“We believe that in order to achieve true ‘lights-out’ autonomy, the robots need to understand what’s happening and be able to adapt and adjust without forcing an operator to come over and fix things,” explains Flexxbotics’ co-founder and chief technology officer, Tyler Modelski. “What we are doing with Intelligent Recovery is enabling continuous operation in situations that would have previously stopped production.”

The function has been included in the latest version of Flexxbotics’ software, which works with most makes of robot and enables continuous operation of unattended robot+machine+inspection workcells with high throughput, quality and safety. It delivers robot-driven manufacturing with autonomous process control, connecting, coordinating and orchestrating robots with existing automation equipment, IT systems and people “to revolutionise the use of robotics in complex production operations”. It runs either online and offline, so that production continues regardless of Internet access.

“Intelligent Recovery is the first of many capabilities we’re delivering to make the robots smarter and more self-aware to enable continuous operations,” says Flexxbotics’ co-founder and CEO, Tyler Bouchard. “We believe the robots must communicate, interact and understand the machines they control in order to optimise production and truly run autonomous manufacturing.”

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