Industrial Manupulators

Tuesday 2nd May 2023

In this article we briefly describe the Types, Roles, Descriptions, uses and Alternative Names for these Industrial Robot Arms, as well as links to our current product inventory of these items and other links which we feel may be of interest to you.

What are Industrial Manipulators ?

Industrial manipulators, also known as robotic arms or articulated arms, are mechanical devices designed to move and manipulate heavy or bulky objects with precision and accuracy. They are commonly used in manufacturing, assembly, and packaging operations, as well as in other industrial settings where repetitive or dangerous tasks are performed.

Manipulators are used to assist in the material handling and manipulation of loads in various industrial applications, including lifting. Also know as Articulated Robots , there are several types which are commonly used in the lifting industry. Here are some examples:

Types of Industrial Electric Manipulators:

Articulating Arm Manipulators: These Robotic Arms use a series of hinged arms and joints to provide a wide range of motion and flexibility. They can be used to reach around obstacles or access hard-to-reach areas and are well-suited for applications where precision and reach are important. These manipulators typically consist of a series of hinged arms and joints that are attached to a base or pedestal. The number of arms and joints can vary depending on the specific application, but most manipulators have at least three or four arms. The arms are typically made of lightweight materials, such as aluminum or composite materials, to minimize the weight of the manipulator and increase its manoeuvrability.

They are operated using a control system that allows the user to control the movement and positioning of the arms. The control system can vary depending on the specific application, but most manipulators use a combination of manual and automated controls. Manual controls, such as joysticks or buttons, allow the user to move the arms and adjust their position, while automated controls, such as sensors or cameras, can be used to assist with positioning or to automate certain tasks. They are used in a variety of industrial applications, including:

  • Assembly:  can be used to assist with the assembly of complex or large components, such as engines or aircraft parts.
  • Welding:  can be used to position and move components during the welding process, reducing the risk of errors or defects.
  • Painting: can be used to position and move components during the painting process, improving the quality and consistency of the finish.
  • Material Handling: can be used to lift and move heavy loads, such as steel plates or pipes, without putting workers at risk of injury.

Balancer Manipulators: These use a counterbalance system to support the weight of the load, making it easier to move and position. They are often used for lighter loads that need to be moved quickly and frequently.

Vacuum Manipulators: These use suction cups or other vacuum-based attachments to lift and move loads. They are often used in applications where the load is fragile or irregularly shaped.

Mechanical Gripper Manipulators: Mechanical gripper manipulators use a mechanical grip or clamp to secure and lift the load. They are often used for heavier loads or in applications where the load needs to be firmly held in place.

Hydraulic Manipulators: These use hydraulic cylinders and pumps to lift and move heavy loads. They are often used in applications where high lifting capacity is required.

Advantages of using Manipulators:

  • Increased precision and accuracy: Industrial manipulators can be programmed to carry out specific tasks with high levels of precision and accuracy, which is particularly useful in manufacturing and assembly operations.
  • Increased efficiency and productivity: Industrial manipulators can work continuously, without the need for rest breaks, which can increase overall efficiency and productivity.
  • Improved safety: Industrial Robotic Arms can perform tasks that may be dangerous for humans, such as working in hazardous environments or handling heavy loads.
  • Increased flexibility: Industrial manipulators can be easily reprogrammed to perform a variety of tasks, making them suitable for use in a wide range of industries.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Industrial manipulators can be a cost-effective solution for businesses as they can reduce labour costs and improve overall productivity.

Another advantage of industrial manipulators is their ability to lift and move heavy loads with ease. For example, a robotic arm can be programmed to lift and move a heavy engine block from one location to another, or to manipulate a large piece of machinery with precision. This not only reduces the risk of injury to human workers, but also increases the efficiency and productivity of the manufacturing process.Another benefit of industrial manipulators is their ability to perform repetitive tasks with high accuracy and precision. For example, a robotic arm can be programmed to perform the same task over and over again, without the need for human intervention. This not only reduces the risk of human error, but also increases the consistency and quality of the finished product.

What are the Advantages of a Manipulator over a Robot? 

An automatically guided robot requires a very precise working area or many sensors to define its working envelope. In the majority of cases when considering the use of a robot within an existing workstation, the entire workstation needs to be re-designed, compared to the use of an Industrial Manipulator. For example; components that need to be gripped and pallet to release, both have to be in predefines position. Any dimensional changes of the part to be handles or any layout changes of the work area, can lead to a considerable amount of investment. Always remember that the big advantage of our Manipulators from SICMA is that our supplier can “tailor” make the units to adapt in an existing working area.

A robot is suggested when the application offers product similarity and in combination requires a very high intensive cycle time; example 5-8 seconds per cycle. The structure of the Manipulator and operator performance could never resist against such a low cycle time figure unless you consider the use of multiple Manipulators. Therefore the main application of a robot is when we are in presence of high volume
production lines.

Our Manipulators Range From SICMA SRL

Column Models:

Column models which are stationary, are a type of Robotic Arm Manipulator which are mounted to the floor or a fixed structure. They are ideal for lifting and moving heavy objects in a vertical direction. Column models have a vertical column that supports a horizontal arm that can be adjusted to different heights and angles. They are typically used in manufacturing plants for lifting and positioning heavy machinery or components.

The MC model is the column manipulator from SICMA, These manipulators can be positioned on a self-stable base that can be trailered with forks that allows the manipulator to be moved to the various positions concerned simply by connecting to the compressed air supply points.
Column manipulators are often used in applications where precision in vertical movements is required. They are also used in assembly lines, manufacturing, and inspection processes where precision and stability are critical factors. They can be equipped with various types of end-effectors such as grippers, suction cups, or specialized tools to handle different types of loads.
These are the preferred type of manipulator when a task requires a high degree of precision in vertical movements, as they are designed to move up and down along a vertical column.

Main Components of a Column Manipulator

  1. Column: The column is the vertical structure that supports the entire manipulator. It is typically made of steel and can range in height from a few feet to several stories tall, depending on the specific application.
  2. Base: The base is the foundation on which the column is mounted. It is typically a heavy-duty steel plate or a set of rails that allow the manipulator to move horizontally along a fixed path.
  3. Boom: The boom is the horizontal arm that extends out from the top of the column. It is typically made of steel and can vary in length from a few feet to several meters, depending on the specific application.
  4. End effector: The end effector is the tool or device that is attached to the end of the boom and is used to manipulate the load. Examples of end effectors include grippers, hooks, magnets, and vacuum cups.
  5. Actuators: Actuators are devices that provide the force and movement needed to manipulate the load. They can include hydraulic cylinders, electric motors, or pneumatic systems.
  6. Control system: The control system is the electronic or mechanical system that allows the operator to control the movement of the column manipulator. It can include a variety of components, such as joysticks, buttons, and sensors.

Sliding Hanging Model Manipulators 

Sliding hanging models are the ones that are suspended from an overhead track system. They can move along the track, allowing for a wider range of movement than column models. Sliding hanging models are ideal for lifting and moving heavy objects in a horizontal direction. They are often used in assembly lines for moving parts from one workstation to another.
The advantage of being suspended and being able to slide in a runway allows the coverage of a particularly high surface and to serve more workstations. All with a clutter-free layout and thus make the most of the
work area.

Our MPS model is an example of Sliding Hanging Model from SICMA.  The main componets of this model includes:

  1. Track System: The track system is a series of overhead tracks that are securely installed on the ceiling or supporting structure. These tracks serve as the primary pathway for the manipulator to move along. The tracks are designed to withstand the weight of the manipulator and the loads it carries.
  2. Trolley: The trolley is the mobile component of the manipulator that travels along the track system. It is equipped with wheels or rollers that allow it to move smoothly along the tracks. The trolley is usually motorized, enabling it to move forwards, backwards, and change directions as needed.
  3. Lifting Mechanism: The lifting mechanism is responsible for raising and lowering the load. It typically consists of a hoist or a lifting device, such as a chain hoist or an electric hoist, that is mounted on the trolley. The lifting mechanism is designed to support and lift heavy loads safely.
  4. Manipulator Arm: The manipulator arm is attached to the trolley and extends downward to reach the load. It is usually a telescopic or articulated arm that can be adjusted in length or angle. The arm allows the manipulator to reach different positions and orientations, making it versatile in handling various objects.
  5. Gripper or End Effector: The gripper or end effector is the component that directly interacts with the load. It is attached to the end of the manipulator arm and is responsible for securely gripping or holding the object. Grippers can come in various forms, such as mechanical claws, magnetic plates, suction cups, or custom-designed attachments based on the specific requirements of the load.
  6. Control System: The control system is the brain of the sliding hanging manipulator. It consists of electrical and electronic components that manage the movement, lifting, and operation of the manipulator. The control system includes features such as motor controls, safety sensors, limit switches, and control panels for the operator to control the manipulator's actions.

Manipulators with Rope Lifting Principle 
They are a type of lifting and handling equipment that utilize ropes and pulleys to lift and move heavy objects. This principle is based on the concept of mechanical advantage, where the force applied to the rope is multiplied to lift heavier loads with less effort. They are particularly appreciated for their flexibility and manageability. MCF is an example of our Rope Lifting Model.

Components of Rope Lifting Principle Models:

  1. Frame or Structure: The frame or structure forms the main framework of the manipulator. It provides support and stability to the lifting system and is designed to handle the loads it is intended to lift. The frame is typically made of sturdy materials such as steel or aluminium to ensure strength and durability.
  2. Ropes or Cables: The ropes or cables form the primary lifting medium in these manipulators. They are made of strong and durable materials, such as steel wire ropes or synthetic fibres like nylon or polyester. The ropes are securely attached to the frame and connected to the lifting mechanism.
  3. Pulleys: Pulleys play a crucial role in the rope lifting principle. They are mounted on the frame and provide a means to redirect the ropes or cables, changing their direction and creating mechanical advantage. Pulleys help distribute the load evenly and reduce friction during lifting operations.
  4. Lifting Mechanism: The lifting mechanism is responsible for hoisting the load using the ropes. It can be manual, operated by a crank or lever, or motorized, powered by an electric or hydraulic system. The lifting mechanism is connected to the ropes or cables, enabling controlled vertical movement of the load.
  5. Load Attachment: The load attachment component is the part of the manipulator that directly interacts with the load being lifted. It can take various forms depending on the specific application and load requirements. Common load attachments include hooks, clamps, or specialized gripping mechanisms designed to securely hold the load during lifting and movement.
  6. Safety Features: Manipulators with rope lifting principle often incorporate safety features to ensure safe operation. These can include overload protection systems, limit switches that prevent excessive loads, emergency stop buttons, and safety interlocks. Safety precautions are essential to prevent accidents and protect both personnel and the equipment.

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