At RBX Programming we care about one of the most important qualities of evolving manual to automated production, and that is, without a doubt, cycle time. As a concept, refers to the time that will take for an installation to work on a product. The shorter cycle time, higher production and, in the long run, higher profitability or Return On Investment (ROI).
Why is cycle time important?
From the beginning of a process’ design, the cycle time needs to be considered. Based on the customer’s needs, the particularities of the robots, the distances between stations and others, drives, initial parts, and the final product are studied very thoroughly to create a production line that can accomplish the target.
Once the ideal elements for the execution of the work have been found, and the distances and positions in the installation of each of them are found, the simulation and virtual commissioning team, create the future production line on their computers and prepare both the necessary programs for the PLC, as well as the robot paths, so that the team can already see, analyze, and know how long it is supposed to take to complete the cycle as they do test the result.
At this stage, the process is being optimized until the cycle time required by our customers is reached in the virtual environment. Hence, simulation and virtual commissioning are so important in the process.
However, it is not always possible to do the study in a virtual environment, as it could also be installations where the automated production process is already implemented, and simply want to make improvements.
In such cases, videos are taken from the process and studied in a very methodical manner. Both in the PLC, for the reading speed and signals process, as well as in robots, optimizing paths and processes, as well as sending and receiving signals, are indispensable parts when it comes to improving cycle time.
How could cycle time be improved?
There are different methods to decrease PLC response time if cycle times needs to be reduced.
One change to be considered is to upgrade the PLC’s CPU. A faster CPU will run the code in less time and reduce overall cycle time. This method is particularly efficient in projects that have many motion controls loops as it is a CPU-intensive function.
The communication between devices can sometimes be optimized too. The more devices and signals to communicate to, the higher the cycle time will be. Reducing the number of devices can help reducing cycle time, but this optimization is probably one of the most difficult ones to implement.
We also consider important to highlight these optimizations:
Sometimes a robot takes longer than its next-door partner, doing the same kind of work. Study the feasibility and carry out the necessary modifications without compromising the result, is a very delicate work! RBX’s space awareness is key to get a successful job if it’s not possible to prepare all these modifications off-line.
The robot paths are very important. The maximum speed reachable by a robot varies greatly depending on the positions programmed. Speeds, inertia… programming a path correctly will make the robot reach its top potential and the highest speed it has been built for.
Using Virtual Commissioning, we can anticipate what modifications can be made to your existing installation to improve cycle time. This saves time and money and they are only invested in a concept that we know for sure will work.