“If we compare an industrial robot to a person’s body, then the Electronic components and modules that build the entire robot system can be regarded as the “working cells” in the body. They perform their own duties, work tirelessly, and ultimately Ensure that the entire robot operates efficiently, reliably and safely.
In people’s imagination of the future intelligent world, robots will definitely not be absent. Therefore, as our world becomes more intelligent, so does the development of robotics. According to a research report by Boston Consulting Group, the global robotics market is about $25 billion in 2020, and will reach $160 billion to $260 billion in 2030, a decade later.
According to the purpose, robots are usually divided into three categories: industrial robots, service robots and special robots. Among them, industrial robots started the earliest and have the highest penetration rate in related manufacturing industries, occupying half of the robot market. Under the blessing of the concept of Industry 4.0, the development momentum of industrial robots in recent years has been quite eye-catching.
According to research and forecasts by Robo Global, by the end of 2021, the installed volume of industrial robots worldwide will double compared to 2015, exceeding 3.2 million units; the global industrial robot market is expected to rise from $45 billion in 2020 to 2025 of $73 billion.
The evolution of industrial robots
The ability to achieve greater production capacity, obtain higher cost-effectiveness, and achieve better quality requirements is the key reason why people are willing to continue investing in industrial robots, and it is also the “requirement” people have for industrial robots. There are two main types of industrial robots built according to such “requirements”: one is Articulated Robot, and the other is Automatic Guided Vehicle (AGV).
Multi-joint robots, as the name implies, are robots with multiple rotating joints or “axes”, which are mostly in the form of multi-axis robotic arms, which can act in a wide range of work and multiple degrees of freedom to complete specific manufacturing tasks. , such as welding, painting, assembly, etc.
AGVs are automatic robots responsible for material transportation. They usually drive along tracks or navigation routes around warehouses, production or distribution centers, which can greatly improve the efficiency of logistics, warehousing and other links.
Figure 1: Two main industrial robots and their application scenarios (Image source: Murata)
With the development of demand, industrial robots also show new development trends, and some new species have evolved. for example:
collaborative robot: This is also a jointed robot, but unlike the industrial robots that are bulky and “closed” in cages (in a specific safety isolation area to avoid accidental injury to human employees) on traditional production lines, collaborative robots are relatively small, and they are high While completing operations efficiently and with high quality, it can also work safely with human employees or robots in the same area, which greatly increases its flexibility and application range, and has become an important “window” in the industrial robot market in recent years. “.
hybrid robot: The working position of this type of robot is no longer fixed. It integrates the advantages of articulated robots and AGVs, and has both efficient production and accurate “walking” capabilities, which allows it to be flexibly deployed as needed, which is very important for factories. Automation upgrades and increased flexibility in production are clearly beneficial.
Enabling technology for industrial robots
Of course, whether it is the upgrade of the original products of industrial robots or the development of new concept products, the promotion and empowerment of new technologies are required.
In essence, whether robots are used for welding, painting, assembly or transportation, they belong to a kind of automation equipment, and a typical automation system mainly includes three parts: input, processing and output. Starting from this infrastructure, we will sort out the new technologies that will affect the development of robots in the future.
The input to the robot is mainly information and instructions from sensors, computational data, and human-machine interface (HMI). To ensure real-time and accurate input, three technologies are indispensable: widely deployed sensors (whether integrated inside the robotic system or in its external working environment), the Industrial Internet that ensures reliable and efficient transmission of various data (including wired and wireless networks), as well as human-computer interaction technologies (such as visual graphical interfaces, and even next-generation HMI technologies such as voice and gesture control).
Once the robot receives input data from the outside, it needs to process the data and form a decision. With the rise of edge computing, people have higher requirements for the localized data processing capabilities of robots, edge devices in industrial production; in other words, robots need to become more and more intelligent and “smarter”, while More than just a simple actuator. In the process, the application of AI and machine learning technology will also become more and more common.
The processed data “drives” the robot’s actuators (such as motors) to perform specific actions quickly and accurately, such as picking up items, avoiding obstacles, and more. More advanced motor drive technology is obviously the core technology, and in multi-axis robots and production lines composed of multiple robots, it has become more important to ensure the coordination between each execution action through real-time communication.
The above-mentioned technical upgrading challenges at the system architecture level of industrial robots are bound to be transferred to the components that are the cornerstone of the underlying technology.
Figure 2: System architecture and key components of a typical robotic arm (Source: Murata)
Figure 3: System architecture and key components of a typical AGV (Source: Murata)
“Working Cells” on Industrial Robots
If we compare an industrial robot to a person’s body, then the electronic components and modules that build the entire robot system can be regarded as the “working cells” in the body. They perform their own duties, work tirelessly, and ultimately Ensure that the entire robot operates efficiently, reliably and safely.
However, due to the particularity of the working environment of industrial robots and the new needs of product iterative development, this requires components that can be used on industrial robots to have some special qualities, that is to say, before they take up their jobs, they must Carry out careful “training”.
Murata has a lot of experience in building the “working cells” needed for industrial robots. The rich component portfolio developed by Murata can provide complete solutions for industrial robotic systems such as robotic arms (Figure 2) and AVGs (Figure 3). Below we will select a few representative products and discover their “highlights” together.
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