Robots in Automated Paint System

 Bret Albers – Owner/Operator Albers Finishing & Solutions – disucsses having two FANUC paint robots in his IntelliFinishing automated finishing system. 

 "A couple of criteria we go through determining when to use robots in our system:

  • Volume – obviously you need to have high volume
  • Type of Paint – what kind of paint and do we have that paint available for the robot

Generally, we look at volume part complexity and if we have the equipment to add another color or are we going to need equipment to make that color available.  Those blend together to make a decision on whether we move forward with robotics or we hand shoot.

In the past year we were probably half and half as far as robotic and manual painting. The programming on the robotics is not too bad. I always ask how would you paint this? What would you do to get this covered? That's the basis for where I start – it’s the same thing as if a person would do it. We're just doing it without the person.

From there then we usually just roll in a bar full of product and I’ll start programming that product in. Once we get that pathway honed in, then we actually flip it over to full auto and let the system take it from there.

What I've learned is sometimes there's a lot of copying and pasting that can go on because you have other pathways with different products that will work well on other products. It can shorten your programming time.

The information is passed to the equipment within our system is first done when we hit the load button. When we load a carrier and we release it to the system, the PLC puts all the information on that carrier – what wash pressures to use, does it get a dry off oven, does it go to the prime booth, does it go to the topcoat booth, how long is the cure – all those parameters. Within that paint booth set of data is what robot job am I running and what color I am using within that robot.

There are a couple of proximity switches that the carriers pass over. When they hit that, information is fed to our robot controller. Once that information is fed to that controller, as soon as that carrier comes in and is in position in the paint booth, that controller takes over and basically the PLC releases it to some degree from the line and the robot controller is driving that process.

Once it's done then it'll kick the carrier back out to the main system and send it on to the topcoat and then eventually the cure. All that information rides around with the carriers as it goes through the system and then as that carrier encounters each piece of equipment that data is utilized so the system knows what to do with it.

The robots have been a pretty nice addition to our system and have allowed us to run some pretty high volumes on products."

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