Whether a particular robot-cell has been initially put in service using traditional manual robot programming methods (with the teach pendant), or through Off-Line Programming Simulation-based techniques, that robot-cell might need to be duplicated. This is often the case when the level of production output requires multiple ‘identical’ robot-cells to perform the same task. Instead of painstakingly reprogramming each duplicated robot-cell ‘from scratch’, one would of course like to simply copy the robot programs generated in the first robot-cell to the subsequent robot-cells built mechanically to be ‘identical’ to that first robot-cell.
However, here also manufacturing tolerances make each robot unit different from one another; the same goes for the end-effector; and the fixture’s location relative to the robot coordinate frame will vary (if only slightly) from one robot-cell to the other. As a result, robot programs copied ‘straight’ from the first robot-cell to the other ones will more than likely not be accurate enough. To address this issue, calibration should be performed on all robot-cells, so that the differences in between those can be compensated for accordingly – therefore allowing true ‘robot-cell cloning’ and eliminating any manual touch-up of the robot programs in the duplicated robot-cells (see “Absolute Accuracy Robot-Cell Calibration”).
Similarly to ‘robot-cell cloning’, ‘robot-cell mirroring’ offers the ability to copy robot programs from one initial robot-cell to another one – mirrored this time. A typical application is for automotive manufacturing, where the manufacturing of the right side of the car is ‘mirrored’ relative to the left side. Here also robot-cell calibration should be performed to eliminate any built differences between the initial robot-cell and its mirrored counterpart.
In some cases, robots along a production line might need to be replaced with other robot models. This could be due to the wear and tear of the original robots, or because newer technology within the plant requires newer robot controllers (and therefore newer robot models), or because the robot’s production tasks are to be expanded (requiring a larger robot envelope). In some cases, the robot user might even want to switch to a different robot brand altogether (for various reasons). The robot user needs of course to verify that the new robot model will be able to handle the existing task, in terms of reachability and collision avoidance.
In this case, the issue is not just to address the built differences between the initial robot and the replacement one as described so far, but it is also most likely to replace the actual language syntax used within both sets of robot programs (sometimes from one robot brand to another), to possibly handle a diametrically opposite end-effector mounting, to deal with a probably totally different robot base location (not by just a few millimeters), etc.
The DynaCal™ system (see “Absolute Accuracy Robot-Cell Calibration”) should be used in all of the above cases to calibrate both (1) the initial robot-cell, as well as (2) the robot-cell to clone to, to mirror, to swap to, etc. The DynaCal system doesn’t just offer ‘basic’ calibration functions indeed (measurement, identification, compensation), but it also allows such functions to be conveniently executed within the context of the specific operation you are interested in, as previously described – whether it is Off-Line Programming (see “Off-Line Programming with No Touchup”), robot-cell Cloning, robot-cell Mirroring, robot Swapping, etc. as described above.