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Four Reasons to Consider Plug-n-play Tool in Your Production

Updated: Jan 8, 2021

With the growing density of robots in developed and developing countries, there is a growing need for end-effectors or tools that can extend the functionality of these industrial and collaborative robots. End-effectors are key to the effective utilization of the growing robotic infrastructure. Below are four reasons why we believe the Plug-n-Play tools and end-effectors are the best choices for utilization of robotic infrastructures instead of complex end-effectors.

  • Plug-n-Play End-effectors: Lightweight 5-10 kg, robot agnostic controller, set up in hours

  • Complex End-effectors: Heavy 50-150 kg, specialised cell, setup in months

1. Price

An industrial or collaborative robot cell along with safety and other infrastructural elements can cost around 50k–100k euros.

  • A complex end-effector requiring special setup will occupy the entire cell and is capable of a single type of operation. Assuming mass manufacturing facility this really makes sense. However, one tool occupies one robot function and thus limit the possible change in operations.

  • Plug-n-play end-effectors along with open-source software ecosystems are becoming more popular because of their cost-effectiveness and rapid changeability. More than one tool can be utilized per robotic cell making them 4–5 times more cost-effective per robotic cell.

2. Flexibility

Robotic Ecosystem flexibility

  • Complex end-effectors with their integrated cells limits the choice of robotic arms on which the tool can function. For example, a tool built on KUKA robotic arm and the Siemens controller cell would not work on the Yaskawa robot and controller cell. Making the end-effector bound to the unique eco-system.

  • A truly Plug-n-play end-effector requires no change of robotic arm controller, it changes its own controller architecture to suit the existing robot controller, making it adaptable to all the existing robotic infrastructures. This eliminates the need to purchase a new robotic arm for each new functionality, greatly minimizing the infrastructural cost.

Movement and production flexibility

Simple plug-n-play tools are built with lightweight and dynamics of the robot in mind, making them much easier to move and install in quick successions. This enables the use of the same robotic cell many times over for different applications, reducing the required floorspace when compared to specialized cells. Whereas the complex tools that require not only manual physical tool detachment but also controller removal in order to move the system around with heavy logistics and downtimes.

3. Ease

Because plug-n-play tools are distinguished by being flexible, they are often also much more user-friendly than their more traditional complex counterparts. This normally makes it easy for production workers to manage and reconfigure the robot.

4. Usability

Being simple production tools, they are much more adaptable to collaborative robots and can perform tasks that are hard and laborious for human employees. This reduces the physical labor needed from the employees, enabling faster, safer, and more efficient production. Companies with collaborative robots are more likely to make products at a price that can compete with products produced in countries with cheaper labor. Businesses can also benefit from employees who have some spare capacity to contribute to the business, e.g. devise new and creative methods of production and process optimization.


Composite production end-effector

Composite production end-effectors are one of the complex mechanical marvels that have propelled NASA space missions and have helped Boeing and Airbus in aircraft production. However, technology has restricted itself to only few areas due to high cost and complexity. Examples of complex production tools are mentioned below. These tools come with their own proprietary eco-system and are very good for certain applications. However wide adoption has been limited due to the drawbacks of complex end-effectors mentioned above.

Examples of complex composites production tools:

Examples of Plug-n-Play Composites production tools

Along with the rising number in robotic arms, controllers, and planning software infrastructure, there is a new player, Addcomposites, opening new areas of application. The new approach mainly focus on utilizing the plug-n-play strengths and opens new market for composite manufacturers of all sizes.

Are you an Innovation-driven SME looking to start working with plug-n-play automation for composites production?

For early adopters of the AFP-XS system, we are running a special offer while supplies last. See if you are eligible here.


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