Outfitting Industrial Robots for Extreme Warehouse Environments
Joe Brandt | 20 April 2022
Hot, cold, corrosive – these environments, and more, inherently require a little extra care when it comes to planning labor and tasks.
The same goes for introducing any automated technologies. After all, you need them to operate correctly and avoid any unnecessary damage.
Often pulled in to support tasks that need to be reliably repeatable, industrial robotics are an excellent option to support safer work in unique environments. When looking at any robotics application, it’s crucial to consider the conditions under which the task is happening. Whether it’s palletizing, welding, paint, or part handling, the working environment – temperature, exposure, application, and materials – plays a key role in the way automation equipment is selected, outfitted, and designed.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common challenging environments and what can be done if the environment is too harsh for most standard industrial robots.
Unique Environments Aren’t Off Limits
Much like properly outfitting a human operator in a warehouse work environment with a hard hat, hi-visibility vest, appropriate eyewear and footwear, and more, industrial robots can be easily protected for hazardous conditions.
Some of those environments may include:
- Work areas that are too hot or too cold (generally, above 100°F, or below 32°F)
- Corrosive work environments
- Robotic paint spray or dispensing applications
- Robotic welding applications
- Exposure to blast media or other forms of contamination
With a few additional steps, you can still leverage the many benefits of robotic technology for more efficient and accurate operations. If a robot is required in any of these extreme working conditions, a robot suit can provide the protection needed for the robot arm, controller and/or pendant.
Degrees of Industrial Robotic Suit Protection
In any application where the surface of the robot must be isolated from the outside environment, robot suits are a great option. There are varying degrees of protection that a robotic suit can provide. A simple cover can protect from weld spatter, paint, or blast media, but additional protections may be required in more extreme environments.
Highly Corrosive Environments – Robot suits can be pressurized with filtered air to ensure that outside media does not infiltrate inside of the suit.
Extreme Hot or Cold Temperatures – A pressurized suit can be paired with heating or cooling units to ensure the air being blown into the suits is at a suitable temperature for robotic operation.
Painting or Welding Applications – Robot suits can add a layer of protection between the robot and the weld spatter or paint in the air.
Robotic Suits in Action
Bastian Solutions has implemented robotic suits in various challenging environments. One such example was a robotic bag palletizing application that transferred bags from the end of a conveyor line to a pallet. A seemingly standard objective of eliminating heavy, manual lifting, an industrial robotic solution was an ideal fit with its flexible end of arm tool design to handle multiple bag sizes. However, the objective was further challenged with a goal to successfully operate in a highly corrosive environment where temperatures reached as high as 115°F.
To accomplish this, the robot and controller were suited in a vinyl cover with was pressurized cooled & filtered air to provide a suitable environment for the robot to operate, and successfully incorporating an automation solution for improved operations.
Ready to Find your Solution?
Have a robotic application you’d like to incorporate in a challenging environment or looking to automate a hazardous process? Let us know and we’ll work with you to find the optimal solution to fit your needs. We understand that unique tasks require equally unique solutions. Talk to an expert today.
Joe Brandt is a robotics field application engineer with Bastian Solutions, based in St. Louis, Missouri. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Systems Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His primary focus for the last few years has been designing and developing robotic automation systems for customers.
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