System Integrators Special Interest Group

The System Integrator SIG focus is to assist users or potential users in the successful application of technology.

The role of the Systems Integrator is becoming more important as the number of robot installations increases, particularly in industry sectors which are late adopters of the technology.

We are seeing migration of robot installations from large car plants with hundreds of robots  down towards some SME’s, with a degree of foresight, who may only have a single robot. The large installations have been typically undertaken by the robot manufacturers themselves whose expertise developed to handle these complex systems. As new introductions progress towards the smaller and even single robot systems the large robot manufacturers are not necessarily competitive ,because of their relatively high overheads, and they do not necessarily have the specific industry sector application knowledge for these emerging new customers.

Enter the smaller independent Systems Integrators who are ideally positioned to fill the void in the marketplace and satisfy the requirements of the new adopters who may themselves not have the expertise to bring about a successful robot installation.

Some former employees of the larger robot suppliers have developed businesses as integrators  and will generally have very high levels of technical competence and programming skills. Some integrators are automation specialists operating within specific industry sectors who have developed their skills to integrate robots into their automation solutions. Each can offer significant benefits to end users and have been extremely important in increasing the penetration of robotics into many industry sectors.

An integrator will typically analyse the requirements of the end user’s project and possibly improve/increase the benefits to be realised by adding his experience into the equation. Following a full analysis of the requirements the integrator will typically specify the optimum robot and ancillary equipment, prepare a proposal layout and often a 3D simulation of the system using software widely available from most robot manufacturers. This will prove the feasibility of the proposal and enable the integrator to check that the robot is capable of reaching all required points in the cell and that it can perform the sequence of movements within the allowable cycle time.

The integrator will usually be responsible for all aspects of the system including the choice of robot, robot programming, end of arm tooling, vision system if required, in-feed and out-feed conveying with associated controls, special jigging / fixturing, safety system and cell access control with perimeter guarding and light curtains where appropriate. Invariably he will also be responsible for site installation, both mechanical and electrical and for commissioning the full system. Operator and engineer training and a full operating manual will complete the process.

Ongoing support for operations and maintenance will usually be provided together with back-up from the robot supplier’s engineers, this will ensure that the system gives a long and trouble free  return on investment.

It can be seen from the above that the Systems Integrator is crucial for the full benefit of the automation system to be realised. BARA may be able assist new robot end users in finding suitable Systems Integrators to meet their requirements.