What is RobotStudio? I bet you’re guessing it has something to do with robots.
Flexible, easy, and fast—just three words, but they sum up what is the most powerful, PC-based, 3D, virtual robot programming tool available.
At the recent Automation and Power World in Orlando, Florida—ABB’s gigantic annual trade show devoted to our customers—I had a conversation with somebody who knows ABB’s robotics products reasonably well. I walked him around our robotics booth, which had three impressively large palletizing robots, one of our well-known FlexPickers, and an innovative hybrid welding cell with one robot bolted to another robot—something we’ve called the IRB 800, because it consists of an IRB 660 plus an IRB 140 (yeah, we can do math here in the robotics writing lab too!).
When we started talking about programming we inevitably reached the part of the discussion where the trend towards making robots easier to program came up. It was at this point I mentioned RobotStudio—ABB’s PC-based (AKA “offline”) robot programming software—but rather than him nodding along in recognition (as I expected) I was surprised to hear him ask, “What is RobotStudio?”
Indeed. What is RobotStudio?
As it turns out, he knew we had an offline programming solution, he just hadn’t connected the dots to the name yet. But it got me thinking about how we are sometimes so deep into our own products and proud of how well they do what they are meant to do, that we forget the rest of the world needs reminding they exist sometimes. So here, for not the last time I’m sure, I wanted to introduce the broader world to the concept of PC-Based robot programming with RobotStudio.
The ability to program a robot in the virtual world before it operates in the real world has dramatically changed the way companies and individuals think about programming robots. Over the last decade it has become an increasingly popular way to test robot operation before a mistake on the factory floor results in damage, stoppage and/or loss of money. The traditional method of programming robots, using a FlexPendant attached to the robot controller, works well for some tasks, but robots have been placed into ever more intricate and complicated operations—things that even the most skilled human programmer staring at a screen full of countless lines of code would be hard pressed to accomplish.
RobotStudio takes the guesswork out of programming. In the PC-based, 3D, virtual world, every part of an operation or process can be run and visualized without ever even ordering a real physical part or robot. Once the program is completed in the virtual world it can simply be downloaded straight to the robot controller in the real world, and as long as everything in the real world is set up exactly as it was in the virtual world, the program will run exactly like it did on the PC. For companies that use robots, this sort of flexible and easy power is a complete game-changer, and results in these compelling benefits:
- Programming can be done in the office without shutting down production on the factory floor.
- Programs can be prepared in advance.
- Training and optimization can be done without disturbing production.
- Risk of damage or costly delays is reduced.
- Installation and commissioning of new systems is faster.
- Changeover between production runs is faster.
- Productivity is greatly increased.
In addition to the incredible amounts of documentation that comes with the software, there is also a vast network of online resources to help both seasoned veterans and brand new users in figuring out their RobotStudio challenges. These include a YouTube channel with tutorials, a RobotStudio blog, and a RobotStudio forum. The customers that have started using RobotStudio love it and now find it to be an indispensable tool—in fact, so much so that dozens of them have gone on camera to say exactly that.
If you aren’t neck deep in the world of robotics, this should give you a sense of the importance of virtual programming. If you use industrial robots and you aren’t using RobotStudio, then what are you waiting for? Unlike much of today’s endless hype, offline programming really is the panacea it promises to be. Just ask Brat and Wally: