Selecting a screw feeder system for your robotic screwdriving application can be a daunting task. There are various factors to consider, such the specifications of your screws and the required speed of delivery.
It is important to choose the correct screw feeder system as your choice can significantly affect the productivity of your entire application.
There are a few questions you can ask yourself to make your life easier up front.
By answering these key questions, you can narrow down your search and find the perfect screw feeder system for your specific needs.
Here are 10 good questions to ask yourself:
1. What are the benefits of using a screw feeder system in a robotic application?
Before you even think about which screw feeder to use, you might wonder why you would need one at all.
There are several benefits of using a screw feeder with robotic screwdriving. The most obvious benefit is that it improves the productivity and efficiency of your entire application by delivering screws at a constant rate.
Screw feeders are simple and cost-effective, and you can apply them to a wide range of tasks.
2. What components do I need in a robotic screw feeder?
A screw feeder works by delivering screws to your robot at a constant rate. You simply pour the screws into the hopper and the screw feeder does the rest of the work.
Usually, screw feeders come as stand-alone units that include everything you will need. Components include a screw hopper to hold the screws, a system to align and queue screws ready for presentation, and a space for the robot to grab the screw.
For robotic screwdriving, the most important property is that the screw feeder is easily to integrate with your robotic system. Using a screwdriving application kit is a great way to ensure compatibility.
3. What size of screws will I use?
The size of screws you need for your application will dictate what type of screw feeder you can use. Larger screws will naturally require a larger screw feeder.
Look at both the width and length of the screws you will be using. It’s better to be cautious up front than end up with a screw feeder that doesn’t support your screws!
For instance, the Robotiq Screw Feeder supports screws between M2.5 and M5.
4. What type(s) of screws will I use?
As well as the size, you will also need to consider what types of screws you will need. There are many types of screws including ones made from different materials, with various head patterns, and designed for specific purposes.
For example, if your screws aren’t ferromagnetic, they won’t be compatible with screw feeders or robotic systems that rely on magnets to handle the screws.
5. What object am I screwing into and is it relevant?
It may be important to consider the properties of your workpiece. For instance, certain materials may require specialized screws or fasteners that don’t match the more common screw types.
In such cases, it may be necessary to use a more specialized screw feeder system or adapt your chosen system to accommodate your requirements.
In other situations, the properties of the workpiece won’t be relevant. But you won’t know either way until you check.
6. How fast does the robot need to deliver the screws?
The speed you need to deliver screws will also play a role in determining which screw feeder you need. Your robot can only deliver screws at the correct rate if the screw feeder delivers them to the robot at that rate.
This property will depend on the overall productivity requirement of your screwdriving application. For example, if you are looking for a super high-speed application, a collaborative robotic solution might provide insufficient speed.
7. How will the screw feeder integrate with my robotic system?
When selecting any component for a robotic application, it’s important to consider how easy it is to integrate with the robotic system.
Most screw feeders will be usable for a robotic application. The question is how much integration and programming work you want to do. Some screw feeders — like the one in our Screwdriving Solution — work out-of-the-box. Others will require more advanced robotic integration skills.
8. Does my process require any non-standard fasteners?
If your application requires any non-standard fasteners, you will need to consider this early in your robotic deployment. You might need to use a specialized screw feeder that can handle these types of fasteners, or find other ways to incorporate those fasteners into your application.
Robots are very flexible so they can handle a wide range of non-standard screws and fasteners. But you may have to adapt your robotic setup to support them.
9. Are there additional costs associated with the system?
When selecting any robotic solution, it’s important to ask if there will be any additional costs associated with the system.
The most obvious cost is the purchasing price. Additional costs associated with some systems might include maintenance and operating costs, licensing for software, integration costs, and other third-party costs that are not immediately obvious. Try to get as clear a costing as possible before you commit to a particular system.
10. Does the supplier have excellent customer service?
Customer service and support can make or break a robotic solution deployment. When you find a company that offers excellent customer support, they will make your life a lot easier.
At Robotiq, we offer a dedicated customer support service for anyone using our solutions and components, even if you purchase them from one of our distributors or partner integrators. This gives you double support for any issues you might encounter.
Selecting the right screw feeder system can be a daunting task. But, by asking yourself the questions we’ve listed above, you can make a more informed decision about which system will best suit your needs.
By narrowing down your search and getting clarity up front, it’s much easier to find the perfect screw feeder system for your specific screwdriving application.
What question did we miss from this list? Tell us in the comments below or join the discussion on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or the DoF professional robotics community.