Page 42 - Packaging News Magazine Mar-Apr 2021
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ROBOTICS & AUTOMATION | | March-April 2021
 Flexible solutions for the modern
With the popularity of collaborative robots on the rise, global leader in automation SMC Corporation is supporting the trend by producing end-effector components to complement cobot applications.
of the cobot to handle and manipu- late parts with a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and materials.
“The flexibility of adapting a cobot to many different applications is of major benefit. For instance, a cobot used to do screwdriving on an assem- bly line can be easily refitted with a different end effector to be used in a pick-and-place application instead,” Sandell explains.
He advises that machine builders or integrators communicate closely with their customers to ensure the success of the union.
“Choosing the correct end tool is critical to the success of the applica- tion and one needs to consider size and weight optimisation too, as the weight of the end effector affects the overall payload,” he says.
“Based on this, SMC works closely with our customers to provide maxi- mum gripping force and flow, while maintaining minimum dimensions and weight.”
When it comes to choosing the cor- rect end effector, Sandell says it’s advisable to start by defining the task, including the piece, or pieces to handle – shape, weight, material.
The following questions should then be considered – are all of them the same or is there a mix? What is the required cycle time? Is precision needed? What about force? Does it need to be customised?
SMC offers various gripping technol- ogies (see breakout) and develops plug- and-play grippers and gripper systems for all cobot and robot suppliers.
“They are based on energy efficiency and performance, with special focus on size and weight optimisation. The con- sideration of weight, overall dimen- sions and ergonomics assist machine wrist movements and avoid limiting its performance,” he says.
However, as Sandell explains, where SMC can really make a differ- ence is in its capacity to combine a 360-degrees approach to automation necessities, such as electric solutions that assist cobot mobility with the technical support to customise
 SHARING expertise and insights between both cobot manufactur- ers and end effectors is essen- tial, as suppliers look to improve flexibility, versatility and pro- ductivity in today’s modern manufacturing environment.
This is the view of Mikael Sandell, OEM & key account manager for SMC Corporation Australia & New Zealand, who firmly believes in the power of collaboration.
“Today, it is all about efficient, quality manufacturing with no room for error. At the same time, manufac- turers are thinking of new ways to ensure social distancing and to deal with challenges around shortened supply-chains, lights out manufac- turing and reshoring,” says Sandell.
The market for cobots is expected to experience robust and exponen- tial growth in the coming years. A report from Interact Analysis pre- dicts the cobots sector will be worth $7.5 billion by 2027, equating to roughly 29 per cent of the global industrial robot market.
The economic benefits are particu- larly appealing – by some estimates, ROI for a typical cobot is between one to two years, and can even be as short as six months, according to the expe- rience of some of SMC’s customers.
End effectors, primarily in the form of grippers, enable the business end

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