Factory Automation

How to Choose an Industrial Robot for Small Part Assembly

Choosing an Industrial Robot Using a Decision Matrix

When you start investigating available industrial robots at trade shows or through industry news, you’ll run across a handful of names that come up repeatedly. All of the top robot manufacturers have a proven track record, an impressive offering, and continue to innovate. So how do you choose one from the other?

List the factors that are most important for your operation and rank those factors with relative importance. You can then use this ranking to compare different models from different manufacturers in a decision matrix.

A decision matrix helps narrow down the choices of industrial robots for small part assembly

Before even considering cost, use criteria that narrow down the contenders based on your needs. Use the answers to the questions below to rank the importance of familiarity, local service and support, specialization, collaboration, speed, and mobility on your decision matrix.

Is your team familiar with any industrial robots?

If you’re already using one type of robot in your facility, then some of your team has training using that robot, and you’re already carrying spare parts from that manufacturer. Sticking with the same manufacturer can speed your implementation and streamline your spare parts inventory as long as that manufacturer offers the type of robot you need.

How much training, service, and support do you require?

If your team will require extensive training and support, then a manufacturer that provides service and support locally should be an important factor in your selection process.

Does your automation require a specialized ability?

The best robot for you will largely be determined by what you need it to do. Common tasks done by robotic automation include welding, assembly, picking/placing, machine tending, and palletizing.

In addition to the task, you can also narrow your specifications by identifying the payload, reach, footprint, and any special tooling you require.

The available models for each task and specification list will vary according to the manufacturer. The more specialized your requirements are, the fewer choices you’ll have.

Can the robot be safely isolated or does it need to work in collaboration with people?

If you know that you need a robot that can be used safely in proximity to humans, then you need a collaborative robot. You may still need additional safety equipment in addition to the built-in features of the collaborative robot, but knowing that you should
look at collaborative robots will help focus your decision matrix.

Collaborative robots are not good options for high-speed operations due to their safe speed restrictions. If you need an operation done at high speed, you’ll likely not be considering collaborative options.

Will the robot be fixed in place, or does it need mobility?

Depending on your specifications, you may not have a choice for this question. Large, heavy robots need to be fixed to be safe. However, lighter collaborative robots are often mobile and can even do double-duty, moving from one station to another.

How do cost and availability rank?

Of course, cost and availability will play into your decision-making process. However, they aren’t the first questions to ask, and they shouldn’t be the determining factors. A cheap robot delivered tomorrow is not the right choice if it won’t do what you need, it’s
too slow, and you can’t get service or parts for it.

Need help deciding which industrial robot is best to automate your small part assembly process?

Contact us at Ehrhardt Engineered Systems at:

877-386-7856 or email us