End effectors are all devices that can be installed on a robotic arm or wrist. The most common end effectors include grippers, assembly tools, and sensors. These devices are most commonly used during the automation of a manufacturing processes to improve the efficiency of a production process and make it easier or more convenient.
What Is an End Effector?
In the robotics industry, an end effort is a tool, device or process sub-system attached to the end of a robot arm. End of arm devices are specially designed to interact with the working environment in which the robot operates. The tool and its programming depend on the project the robot is accomplishing. The tasks performed by end effectors in robotics can be complex and intricate. Schneider & Company is a distributor for EPSON robotics and they work with Robotic end-effector design and integration on a daily basis. Recently they have begun offering what they call a “Part Grip Solution” for people who want to purchase a robot with everything designed and tested to pick up a range of parts. End effectors using gripper products are typical for simple applications. They also offer other assembly process tooling such as screwdriving and riveting which can be adapted to robots for more complex applications.
A typical end effector attached to a robot used in manufacturing usually only accomplishes one repetitive task with a single end effector however by adding tool changers, robots can change to different end effectors and do other tasks. Robots can be programmed to perform simple tasks such as picking up objects, moving around inspection cameras or snap-together assembly. They can also be fitted with more sophisticated end effector tooling to carry more complex processes such as welding tooling, blow-feed screw driving processes or spray painting guns. If the robot needs to move or react based on feedback from the process, the end effectors will incorporate sensors to make the system more intuitive. Types of end effectors most commonly used in manufacturing processes include:
- Vacuum Heads
- Drills or Cutting Tools
- Force Sensors
- Weld Tooling
- Adhesive Dispensing
- Paint Spray Guns
A gripper is one of the most popular types of end effectors used in manufacturing. This attachment functions similarly to a human hand and allows a robot to manipulate a component at an advanced level. Grippers can be attached to the end of a robotic arm to enable the robot to hold the component tight during high-speed transferring and then locate and release it accurately at a desired destination. Many styles and sizes of grippers can be used to accommodate a variety of applications. Schneider & Company is the distributor in the USA for grippers and automation components manufactured by JRT.
There are several kinds of assembly tools used in manufacturing processes around the globe. Many of these tools have electric, hydraulic or air actuation to perform automated functions. Some of the most common tools used in robotics end effector automated processes are spindles for metal removal and metal finishing applications and assembly process applications such as welding, adhesive dispensing, riveting and screwdriving.
At Schneider & Company, we offer good options to manufacturers for assembly tools used in manufacturing both integrated into robot end effectors and as assembly tools as standalone processes. We specialize in advanced technologies for fastening processes; functions like threaded fastening, assembly pressing, riveting, roller forming and metal forming processes.
In general terms, a sensor is a device used to detect specific events within a working environment and send a notification to a processor for analysis or corrective action. It is very common for sensor technology to be found in end effector tooling and integrated with robotic processes. Sensors can be used to detect changes in pressure, temperature, or other working conditions or can be used as inspection devices to verify processes have been done correctly.
In robotics specifically, there is an increasing use of force-torque sensors mounted in the end effectors. These sensors are commonly placed between the robotic arm flange and the device that touches a part. Force-torque sensors are used to measure the amount of force the robot is applying on the tool. This information can be used to verify quality or even used in a closed-loop feedback communication link to offset the robot program path. Typical applications for sensor end effectors include part insertion, sanding, and assembly.
Schneider Company has been a leader in the creative industrial automation industry for over 95 years and since the very beginning of robotics. We distribute numerous types of end effectors, including grippers, assembly tools and measurement technology. We serve customers in a variety of industries from all types of manufacturing requiring advanced assembly and automation technology.