MOBILE ROBOT SELECTION
Robot manufacturers can show how robots and machines can interact seamlessly to allow production
runs to be easily and quickly altered, accommodating fluctuating lot sizes, as well as freeing workers from
repetitive tasks and heavy lifting. Here, Omron identifies five questions to ask when selecting a mobile
robot for your operation
Interactive machines can
understand the movement of a
person and make their best
effort to move to avoid them.
Simple tasks such as transportation
can safely be left to these machines.
An example of such a system is a
robot designed to deliver packages
to a fixed location while
automatically avoiding people or
obstacles in its path. The robot can
identify its own position by
comparing the results from a laser
distance scanner with an onboard
map. There are, however, questions
to be answered.
1. Can it be installed and
Conveyors have been used for
transporting goods at factories and
warehouses for over 100 years.
They were useful when
manufacturers were producing a
large amount of the same thing
every day for a long period of
time. However, in faster paced
markets, they become expensive to
implement and very difficult, and
even impossible, to modify when
your products or processes change.
About a decade ago, automated
guided vehicles (AGVs) were
introduced as an alternative to
conveyors in material handling.
However, AGVs still require you to
set up a predefined path, either by
laying out magnets or lines on the
floor, or by placing beacons on the
The latest mobile robots, or
Autonomous Intelligent Vehicles
(AIVs) can move more freely as
well as be reprogrammed based on
2. Can it operate safely
Already in many factories humans
and machines are working
alongside each other, and even
collaborating on tasks. This means
that it is essential that your mobile
robot can work safely in the same
environment with people.
Traditionally, robots were fenced
in and kept away from people.
Your mobile robot has to have
the most advanced and
appropriate technology, so that it
can move safely around people.
Ask your mobile robot vendor
whether its products comply with
the domestic and international
3. Can it work collaboratively in
In most cases, there are several
mobile robots at work in a
production facility. They need to
be able to work together and must
therefore come with a fleet
management system that will
automatically allocate the work to
the robots in the most efficient
way. A good fleet management
system helps you maximise your
investment. It will enable you to
have the least number of robots to
accomplish tasks by coordinating
the robots to share the job.
The fleet management system
manages two things. The first one
is traffic. It controls the traffic so
that the mobile robots do not block
each other’s paths or wait too long
for the other to pass. Secondly, it
manages the tasks by allocating
them in the most productive way.
A good fleet management system
can even plan ahead and predict
which nearby robot will be
available to work on the next job.
Managing the time for each robot
to recharge its battery is also
important to maintain the flow
during peak times.
4. Is it easily customisable to
Just like people need different
skills to accomplish different tasks,
you will need different types of
mobile robots to do different jobs.
For example, a general transporter
robot would be able to move
things from a pickup location to a
drop off location. A mobile robot
can be designed to attach to a
movable cart and transfer that
from one place to another. A
mobile robot with a collaborative
arm can pick-up individual items.
Or you can top the mobile robot
with a conveyor so that it can
receive from and load onto a
Therefore, it is important that
the mobile robot is easily
customisable so that you can
modify it to fit your needs.
5. Can it run reliably
Once the mobile robot system is
successfully implemented at one of
your facilities, you may want to
duplicate that in other locations
around the world. If so, you might
want to purchase the robots
locally, and get professional help in
the implementation and technical
support after the installation.
Moreover, it is extremely
valuable if your vendor can help
you in combining the mobile
robots with other automation
equipment – such as arm robots,
controllers, and switches – to help
you create a total solution.
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ROBOTS WERE FENCED
IN AND KEPT AWAY