Sensitive Environment Robots Open New Doors for Automation

For years, robots have been taking over harsh, dangerous or repetitive tasks to improve efficiency and safety in industrial settings. Now, new technological advancements are helping introduce robots to environments never before thought possible.

A number of challenging production scenarios can benefit from automation – including electronics, medicine, biotechnology, food, semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, cleanrooms, laboratories and more – but because of their sensitive or specialized environments, standard robotics weren’t always able to provide the automated solutions these industrial settings required.

Food production, for example, adheres to stringent safety requirements, and machines need to be washed down regularly to avoid contamination. Industrial robots are used for operations such as cutting, deboning, portioning, labeling, sorting, packaging and pallet loading. These operations must all comply with food safety standards to prevent the spread of bacteria and enzymes. Most standard robots aren’t equipped for that type of regular exposure to water, so their impact on food manufacturing was limited.

Stäubli Robotics recently introduced two new Humid Environment (HE) robots at the PACK EXPO trade show in Chicago, offering new options for food manufacturers to introduce automation into their production process. The FAST PICKER TP80 HE and the TX90XLHE are designed to hold up to any food manufacturing scenario and can easily be cleaned with detergents as part of the daily cleaning routine to ensure the highest standards of food safety.

HE robots were developed with two things in mind. First, the arm’s exterior is designed to minimize water retention to prevent bacteria such as salmonella and listeria from developing. Second, the robots feature a proprietary patented drive technology, which allows for an enclosed structure with all the cables routed internally. All the electrical connectors are integrated into the body of the robot, and the surface of the equipment is smooth, with rounded edges, and water-tight so that it can be easily cleaned.

To make sure the robots can withstand frequent washing, Stäubli worked with a manufacturer of detergents and sterilization products to ensure the outside surface of the arm is chemically compatible with common cleaning products used in the industry. They also feature a proprietary food-grade oil that allows for superior performance over other robots.

These robots are equipped to handle even the most extreme conditions, which makes them ideal to take over harsh, dangerous or repetitive jobs not fit for humans like cutting frozen chicken in a meat processing plant. They also work in a variety of other manufacturing scenarios where water or liquid coolants are widely used, like washing metal shavings of deburred engine parts.

Stäubli offers a complete range of dynamic robots designed for specialized environments. Because of their unique design features, our standard robots require only minor modifications to convert them for use in sensitive environments, and we offers the world’s widest range of robots in special versions.

The development of the world’s first Stericlean robot, for example, is a breakthrough for robot-based automation in germ-free environments. Because of their enclosed design and a unique surface coating, these highly advanced machines are able to work uninterrupted in aseptic production areas.

Robots are also opening new doors for automating sensitive electronics manufacturing. Our Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) robots are designed to provide protection against the sudden discharge of static electricity, a problem which can disrupt the production of electronics, and new cleanroom variants meet the most stringent requirements of cleanroom manufacturing.

In April, we are unveiling our new line of collaborative robots to the North American market. These robots are designed to work safely and efficiently alongside humans in virtually any setting. This increased versatility will continue to open doors for manufacturers to use automated solutions in new and unexpected ways. As innovative technological advancements are introduced, we are sure to see a steady increase in the safety and efficiency of modern industrial factories, improving the quality of manufactured goods and the profitability of American manufacturers.

About Stäubli North America

Staubli North American headquarters is located in Duncan, S.C., and has over 200 employees supporting Textiles, Connectors and Robotics customers. The sales force is strategically placed on the West Coast, Canada, Mexico and elsewhere thoughtout the continent.

Visit www.staubli.us for more information on the company and products.

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