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Golden rules of BUYING HAPPY ROBOTIC SYSTEMS

“When you buy robotic system you are not buying a product as a robot but buying a system or function which consists of machine, robots, software, networking and basic facility or infrastructure around. You must consider total cost and life cycle cost”
In modern edge of digital factory; lot of robotic systems are deployed in day to day production. There are several advantages of these systems over conventional production systems. Precise, repetitive manual tasks are done by robots better way as they do not think; get tired or injured. Due to this you get better productivity and quality due to consistency. When we choose a human being we do a lot to find match for job. It means we defined the job and look for human profile that it can do better. We create workplace environment and team around him. Same is needed when you buy a robot. Just like their human counterparts, robots must be well-matched to their job requirements.
When you buy robotic system you are not buying a product as a robot but you are buying a system or function which consist of machine, robots, software, networking and basic facility or infrastructure around. You must consider total cost and life cycle cost. It means do not only look at acquisition cost but also look at operation cost, improvement cost; modification cost (like increase rate of production or change in model) and maintenance cost.  Following are some golden rules which might help in buying decision:
Production ratesWhen looking at production rates, it is important to differentiate between average rates and instantaneous (peak) rates as the robot needs to be designed for both. Where there are large surges in production followed by a lull, it is possible to average out the rate with a buffer.
System controlThe cost of an automated solution can vary greatly with the level of control. The robot teach pendant is typically able to keep costs down but this requires well trained operators. Pushbuttons to start and stop the system from a workstation simplify control but a better solution may include interfacing to a SCADA system with remote monitoring at the production office.
Find the right supplierWhen looking to invest in a robotic system, consider the supplier’s area of expertise and whether he has completed similar projects in the past. Also consider a supplier’s location and its preferred brand.
Essential functionsA manual process often includes steps that are not required for an automated process, but don’t overlook the simple yet important human elements. Some parts in your process are not a core function but do need to be managed. For example, do your operators check for label as you pack them you may need camera system when you use robotic system.
Specific requirements for componentsSpecifying brands and models can minimise spare part inventories and maintenance training costs. Typically companies specify their preferred CNC; PLC, electrical components and pneumatic components.
Modularity & adaptabilityWhen buying automation system, it is important to check for system modularity in design.  This will help you to scale the production rate in future when you want to add some machine/operations.  At the same time in case of change in product/process, this system should be adaptable to these changes. This will call for provision in design by using standardisation.
Ease of installationManufacturers should also consider the installation process when purchasing a robot, as this will impact on design and cost. Will its installation interrupt production and how long will it take? Insist on a Factory Acceptance Tests. This is your chance to look at the robotic system, make sure the key functions work correctly.
Post-project supportBe sure the supplier has adequate personnel to support the robot on an ongoing basis. When you start a system you do not get desired production rate. Ramp up time is required and during this ramp up time you may need assistance of the expert. This time is also good for training your staff on job. Please buy run off assistance.
Keep it simpleComplicated solutions inevitably lead to more project risk and greater maintenance headaches in the long run. While looking for robotic solution; make it simple. You can also break down the tasks sequence for ease and do several parallel instead one complicated.
Team up for drafting SpecificationsHave a concise well-written specification before going out for quotation. Specifications must look for all limitations including building size; floor; Raw material discipline etc.  Many times it is not possible to one odd job and 90 per cent is done through Lower capacity model. Look at all possibilities and then optimise the solution. Many times Layout and innovative process mapping also can change dramatically investment pattern. Involve your system integrator as well as machine and robot manufacturer along with production manager to draft specification. It is always good to team up while deriving specifications. 
Look at target & not sign-off protocolThe supplier should have a clear understanding of buyer’s expectations and how success is measured. It is always important to get process optimised and you should have allowance for efficiency measures such as within time, budget and specifications. It is observed that many successful robotic projects has been exceeded these parameters but are very effective solutions for production. It is important to know what expectation is and work around it with several reviews. It might take longer or cost little more but will pay in long run.

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